“How deep is your Love”?
There are defining moments in a relationship that can make or break them. Something happens that, at once, exposes the motivations of the persons involved. It strips away any pretension or illusion, and lays bare the real purpose or root of that union. Sometimes it is not pretty. Sometimes the relationship does not survive.
Such was the experience of Jesus and His followers at the end of His sermon in Capernaum. Jesus knew, and the twelve saw, that the reason many were following him was self-seeking not sacrificial. Knowing their hearts, Jesus asks the twelve “are you leaving too?” Even though He already knew the answer, He asked the question.
It is interesting to note that Jesus tells the people that unless God draws them, they cannot follow. On the surface, it might seem to some that Jesus is saying Christianity is an elitist club for God’s handpicked favorites. However, that is not what He is saying at all. God is impartial, and even though He knows who will choose Him, He desires people to love Him willingly. That necessitates choice on the part of the follower. A person who would follow God truly, would not be shallow and self-serving, because those attributes inhibit, if not prohibit, a loving relationship. One cannot truly love people when their own interests are at the fore. Just as Jesus modeled for us, in order to love another, one must die to self; love and self-focus are antithetical. So, in His sermon Jesus is asking rhetorically, “How deep is your love?”
As one can see, most of them left because there was nothing in it for them, and they did not intend to sacrifice for Him. How sad that must have been for Jesus! How often do we do that to Him? Even though Jesus knew that would happen, before the beginning began, He died for us anyway! The twelve may have been dismayed too, but for different reasons. Some of them thought like Zealots who believed Jesus was there to conquer their physical enemies. They thought their Messiah had come to lead them into battle against the Romans. Losing an army of followers would certainly put a damper on that! Later, they would be devastated again as their fearless leader, who was able to do wondrous miracles, fell prey to the infamous Roman Cross.
Little did they know, Jesus would give them life by dying! Even though they were close to Him, they were about to find out not only how deep their love for Him was, but also conversely how deep His love was for them. They were about to experience true communion, the reason for the feast.
Jesus often spoke in cryptic ways. On the surface, and from an earthly perspective, what he said often sounded crass and crude. Ironically, in order to “feel the love” that Jesus has for His people, one has to move through what seems “harsh” on the fleshly surface to the profound spiritual meaning underneath. This can only happen with true intimacy. People around me, who think I am an extrovert, often amuse me. While my outward behavior might indicate an extrovert, I am not one; those who know me are acutely aware of my real nature. For me, it has been a test to see who is paying attention, and who my real friends are. However, I am a frail and sinful human. Jesus is not; He is God incarnate and while He tests us, He has no need to discern who His real friends are. Jesus can read minds and hearts. Why then, would He be so blunt and try to expose people’s hearts? It is for them of course! Jesus said and did the things He did to show the people where they were spiritually, and where they needed to go in order to get the better relationship. Instead of settling for the temporary “feel good” manna, they could have the eternal bread that feeds forever.
They always had that choice! C.S. Lewis once said that God never sends anyone to hell; people choose it. As hard as that is to believe, it is quite plausible. In our shallow and self-serving ways, we reject every good gift God gives us. We do not want Him to be the judge of what is good for us; “how dare He do that,” we would think.
We want to rule over our own lives and if loving God means not looking out for our own interests, we do not want it. We do not want to ‘go deep’ into relationships. We just want to have fun! Of course, we want his love to go deep for us! We just do not want it to cost us anything, even if it means a Christless eternity. Why think about that now? Our version of “how deep is your love” is “what have you done for me lately?” How deep is YOUR love?