A famous theologian was once asked:
“What is the most amazing – the deepest and greatest – spiritual truth you have ever learned?”
His answer was shocking in its brevity and simplicity. He responded with the words to a children’s Sunday School song:
“Jesus loves me; this I know
For the Bible tells me so.”
But what does this mean? My Muslim friends, what does it mean that Jesus truly loves me. . . and you?
For sure, I am no expert in the Qur’an, but may I share some insights about Jesus’ love for you from the Bible? Then, I would greatly appreciate hearing from you about what the Qur’an says about Jesus’ love for people. Let’s continue to learn what each of us believes.
(I will also be quoting a gentleman by the name of Eric M. Pazdziora below – http://www.wadeburleson.org/2010/05/best-theology-is-summed-up-in-words.html).
Here we go. . .
“Jesus loves me.”
Is the statement too simple? It might seem that way. . .
What does the Bible mean when it says Jesus loves me?
It may be an obvious question to ask, but it’s not a trivial one to answer. The answer you give to it will do more to shape your life than anything else will.
JESUS’ LOVE IS REAL & KNOWABLE
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge. . .” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
JESUS’ LOVE IS JUST LIKE GOD’S LOVE
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you. . .” (John 15:9)
Some people give the impression that God the Father was itching to smite us with His wrath until Jesus stepped in and showed us some love instead. Those people are wrong. The Father’s love for His Son is eternal and unchangeable, a greater constant than the universe itself. It’s a part of His essential nature: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Jesus loves you exactly the same way.
JESUS’ LOVE MEANS FRIENDSHIP
“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends. . .” (John 15:15)
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)
Jesus doesn’t just love you because He’s somehow obligated to. Jesus doesn’t just love you because He loves everybody as a collective group. Jesus loves you as an individual.
Jesus isn’t interested in having mindless servants who blindly obey. Jesus wants friends who will hang out with Him. Jesus wants friends He can talk with (His favorite topic, again, is His Father). Jesus thinks you’re the kind of person He’d like to get together with over coffee. Or, if you’re in England, tea.
JESUS’ LOVE IS SACRIFICIAL
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
Loving someone means wanting what’s best for them. Truly loving someone means giving up something voluntarily so they can get what’s best for them. It can’t be forced or manipulated by anyone else — real love makes sacrifice come naturally. The more someone truly loves, the more they freely sacrifice.
Jesus’ love won’t demand, compel, or manipulate. Jesus never says, “Well, now that I’ve given so much, it’s time for you to do something for me.” He follows His own commandment to “give, expecting nothing in return” (Luke 6:35).
He just gives. He gives everything.
He gives Himself.
JESUS LOVES PEOPLE WHEN THEY DON’T DESERVE IT
“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7-8)
The greatest kind of love we can imagine (as Jesus said) is someone giving up their life for someone they love. We could probably picture ourselves trading our lives for somebody we love who loves us back—our child, our spouse, our best friend. But how about taking a bullet to save an enemy?
God didn’t wait for us to turn our lives around, to become “good enough” to earn His love and approval.
JESUS DIED FOR US WHILE WE WERE HIS ENEMIES
“. . .our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies.” (Romans 5:6)
If you have ever thought that you had to be good enough for Jesus to love you, or that Jesus would stop loving you if you did something bad, or that the better you were the more Jesus would love you, now would be an appropriate time for you to crumple that thought up and toss it in a wastebasket to hell.
JESUS’ LOVE LIFTS THE LOWLY
“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.” (Psalm 113:7)
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)
God’s love for us is not from the top down but from the bottom up. Jesus didn’t wait for us to get our acts together; He got His hands dirty. The story of the Incarnation is the story of a king who laid aside His crown for the love of a beggar.
Jesus loves the neglected, the poor, the lowly, the outcasts, the overlooked, the untouchable. Jesus loves the disenfranchised, the misfits, the minorities, the friendless, the victims. He loves them so much that He came to earth and became one of them Himself.
Jesus was not ashamed of your lowliness; He made it His own. Jesus does not wait for you or anyone else to lift yourself up; He lifts you up. Jesus’ love doesn’t put us down in our places. It lifts us up to His place.
JESUS’ LOVE IS COMPASSIONATE
“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice…” (Isaiah 42:3)
If you’re bruised, or wounded, or hurting, it may seem like people want to cast you aside, throw you away, or (worst) make you think it was all your fault. What good is a bruised reed except to break and throw away? What good is a smoldering candle except to blow out? What good is a broken person?
Jesus isn’t in the business of discarding things other people have broken. Jesus treats the bruised and broken things of the world with the tenderness they need to recover and return to life.
Jesus is all about resurrections.
JESUS’ LOVE IDENTIFIES WITH OUR SUFFERING
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus does something infinitely better than keeping us from ever going through suffering and hardship. He experiences our suffering and hardship right along with us. He’s not just with us in our suffering, or even just “carrying us” like in the old “Footprints” poem, but actually experiencing our suffering as much as we are.
In His life on earth, Jesus experienced what it was to be hurt, abandoned, beaten up, misunderstood, mocked, laughed at, scorned, slapped, betrayed, tempted, and even seemingly forsaken by God. When someone insults you, hurts you, or abuses you, Jesus feels it too. He’s been there before, and He’s there with you now.
JESUS’ LOVE IS UNILATERAL
“We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
Look very closely at what the Bible doesn’t say. For instance, this verse doesn’t say, “We have to strive to love Him if we want Him to love us back.” It doesn’t say, “He loves us when we love Him and do our best to be well-behaved and attractive.” It definitely doesn’t say, “He won’t love us until we’re good enough.” You get the idea.
Lots of people like to use the phrase “unconditional love,” which is accurate as far as it goes — Jesus’ love comes with no strings attached. But the Bible goes even further than that phrase does. As far as Jesus is concerned, His love for us is entirely His idea and exclusively His initiative.
Jesus’ love for us is the cause, and our love for Him is the effect. If you want to love Jesus more, don’t waste your time trying to strive or to do good things or to work up your passion and emotions. Just think about Jesus’ love for you, and how much He had to do with it, and how little (nothing) you had to do with it.
A little girl in London once asked her Sunday School teacher how she could learn to love Jesus, since she didn’t. He thought for a moment and replied, “Little girl, as you go away from here today, keep saying to yourself, ‘Jesus loves me,’ ‘Jesus loves me,’ and I believe you will come back next Sunday saying, ‘I love Jesus.’”
JESUS’ LOVE IS INVINCIBLE
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)
If you were expecting a list of things to do here, I’m going to have to disappoint you. The first thing Jesus tells us to do about His love is to stop doing things about it. His word of choice is “Abide”: “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love” (John 15:9). “Abide” means “Make yourself at home.” Stay, relax, hang out, take a load off, pull up a seat, put down roots; you can stay forever. Jesus wants us to live in His love.
What does it mean to live in Jesus’ love? It means you can know you will always have someone who loves you. As the psalmist sang, “Though my father and my mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up” (Psalm 27:10).
It means that you never have to worry about being good enough for Him to love you. Jesus loved you first. Your behavior had nothing to do with it either way. You don’t have anything to live up to.
It means you don’t have to worry whether you will be loved or not. You just have to know that you are loved, and that therefore you are worth loving. You can lose the worries of legalism, perfectionism, and authoritarianism. You can feel the freedom to love yourself. You can feel the security of being unconditionally loved.
One other thing. Don’t accept substitutes. . . Once you see what Jesus’ love is like, stay there. Don’t put any other person or place or idea in that place. . . Nothing can separate you from Jesus’ love for you. Nothing can stop you from being loved forever.
Anything that says otherwise isn’t Jesus.
Postcript: I am so inspired by this man’s comments about the love of Jesus. How about you? Through my years of bridge-building between Muslims and Christians, I commonly hear Muslims say, “We love Jesus. We have to love Jesus or we couldn’t be Muslim.” A few have even said to me, “We love Jesus more than you (Christians) do.” Well, I won’t argue over that. I just ask these simple questions, “Why do you love Jesus? What. . .specifically. . . do you love about Jesus?” As for me, I love Jesus because of who He is and what He has done (as seen above). Most of all, I love Him because of the most amazing truth:
“Jesus. . .loves. . .me.”