Living and Loving on the Right Side of the Cross – Part Two

Matthew 22: 36 – 40

Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord wholeheartedly. It is also perhaps the hardest commandment.

The Greek word used by Jesus that is translated love was “agapao”. It is self-less love, the kind God the Father has for us.

It is not simply an immediate feeling or natural impulse. That is why the disciples were clueless before the cross. They were trying to work up a warm fuzzy feeling toward some very hard and harsh people. In the energy of the flesh there are some people that simply aren’t loveable.

However, the love Jesus commands and on this side of the cross enables us to love isn’t a natural impulse, it requires the will to obey Him.

When the pressure was on those disciples who heard Jesus teach this command, men who had known the text from infancy, they did such things as draw swords and cut off ears. It wasn’t an ear Peter intended to sever in the garden when the Roman soldiers came with Judas for Jesus, it was a head.

My humorous imagination can just hear Jesus say, “Peter, put up that sword. I am supposed to die on a cross. If you keep that up you will get us all killed right here in this garden.”

Now after the resurrection Peter and the others got the clue. After the influence of the resurrection Peter clued into what Jesus meant by loving, he went forth with such love for Jesus as to die on a cross for Jesus’ cause, all the while loving those who killed him as his Master had.

Peter later wrote revealing the change in his life.

“…love one another fervently with a pure heart” (I Peter 1:22).

“…having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous…” (I Peter 3: 8).

“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins”  (I Peter 4:8).

That doesn’t sound like a man who at the trial of Jesus swore, cursed, and declared he never knew Jesus? That Peter was the Simon before the cross, he didn’t have a clue. This is the Peter after the resurrection.

People hadn’t suddenly changed and become lovable, but Peter had changed and become loving.

        Agape love is a conscious and deliberate act of the will.

                It means to seek God for His own sake,

                        to have pleasure in Him, and

                                to strive impulsively after Him.       

Does it ever seem to you that you just can’t work up an emotional thrill over loving your brothers and sisters? The occasional absence of this emotion causes some to conclude they aren’t Christians. It helps to find your way out of this dark shadow into the cheerful sunlight when you realize there are two kinds of love.

One is “feeling” and the other “will.”

God never intended you to be a plaything of your emotions. We all struggle with our emotions. Living in the “Thy will be done” zone is the only possible way to love. Now go out today (and every day) and find somebody to love.