Trying to narrow down the examples of Jesus’ love in His ministry is not an easy task. The closer we look at His person, we have to acknowledge that love is not an expression but instead an attribute of His deity. He was always ready to offer His love.
The basis of Jesus’ love was found in Old Testament scripture in the commandments given by God to Moses.
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NIV
Jesus’ love encompasses everyone but it began with love for God first. If we love God then its only natural that it begins to extend to others. This is not restricted to a love recognized only by the mind, but is expressed in our soul and heart. A geniune love is the only type Jesus expresses and accepts.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Matthew 5:43-44
In the first part of this verse, we see a human viewpoint being pointed out by Jesus. We can all respond to this when there are people in our lives that irritate us to extremes. Jesus says that even when we are persecuted, not only can we not hate, but we need to pray for them as well.
Jesus’ Love for Sinners
“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!‘ But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” Luke 23:43 NIV
The love of Jesus is not prejudiced toward sinners, if so we would all miss out on His love. There is no difference in the man who died beside Jesus than you and I. It doesn’t mean He overlooks the man’s sin, just loves him in spite of it. His death has the purpose of redeeming us because HE paid the price of our sin.
In the verses above we see an example of the choices we can make. One man ridicules Jesus while the other accepts His gift.
Jesus’ Love for Children
“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there”. Matthew 19:13-15 NIV
As children we can remember being pulled aside with Mother placing her finger over her lips to quiet us as adults talked. Children were to be seen and not heard. Apparently this is the disciples attitude and Jesus is quick to correct that.
Jesus’s Love for the Sick
“When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.” Matthew 8:1-3 NIV
Leprosy is something we are not as familiar with today but is a diease of the nervous system and affects the skin and joints. It can be disfiguring and most people with leprosy in Jesus’s day were not allowed to be with others because it could be transmitted from person to person. We know more about it medically than in that day, but it still is a serious condition. It is now curable of which we can thank God for.
The point is Jesus loves this man so much that He reaches forward and touches him despite the condition of his skin and body. What joy and comfort he must have felt from that touch on his dieased skin, knowing how much Jesus loves him.
Jesus’ Love for the Hungry
Jesus is always looking at the welfare of others. When a large crowd had gathered to hear and hopefully be healed, the sun began to fade. Realizing the remoteness of their location, the disciples wanted the people to go back into town to find something to eat. Jesus refused.
“’Bring them here to me,’ he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.” Matthew 14:16-21 NIV
Jesus’ Love for His Mother
Even with all the people Jesus was surrounded by, He still was attentive to His mother.
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,‘ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” John 19:25-26 NIV
As Jesus was dying, He looked down at His mother. It doesn’t say but He must have seen the pain she is enduring. Imagine the agony He is going through, to stop and think of someone else. In that moment He made a place for His mother.
Jesus’ Love for His Disciples
“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” John 13:1-5 NIV
As Jesus is approaching the time of His death, He still has lessons for His followers. The idea of a leader or teacher is usually one of special privilege. He is turning that concept around and instead of the disciples washing Jesus feet, He will be doing the washing.
The Lord wants them to realize that in God’s Kingdom, the servant is not greater than the master nor the master greater than the servant. We are each to serve one another in Jesus’ love. He promises a blessing to those who follow His lead.
We have looked at six examples of Jesus’ love during His ministry on earth. There are many others in God’s Word.
The greatest example of His love is for everyone.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV
Jesus paid the price of our sin on a cross, died and was resurrected because He is the Son of God. To go through such pain and separation from God the Father is an unfathomable gift. Jesus’ love has no limits, it is unconditional.
How do you describe Jesus’ great love? If you would like to contribute positively to this conversation, feel free to comment.