THE PEOPLE JESUS LOVED
There were those people in Jesus’ life whom he loved. Jesus never denied it, he made no secret of it and his disciples knew he loved them. These people, in turn, made no secret of their love for him.
There is no hiding love even when it makes other people feel less loved. It happens in families where everyone is treated equally but not with the same affection. It happens in churches where a pastor cares for all God’s children but loves some more than others. It happens in schools where a teacher loves one student more than most, hence the often heard unkind remark, ‘teacher’s pet’.
The reason for this love is not impure or sinful. It is simply endearment, an affectionate tenderness which the human soul feels when touched by the beauty or sweetness of another nature. It may be aroused by that sense of wonder in a child, a child’s loving trust, or a nature that is kind and gentle, sensitive and pure.
Jesus had a special tenderness and love for some women. He loved Martha and her sister Mary.[i] He loved Lazarus and one of his disciples believed by tradition to be John.[ii] The very first person Jesus appeared to after he rose from the dead was Mary Magdalene out of whom he had cast seven devils.[iii] She was the woman who followed Jesus everywhere he went, along with other women. She was with Mary the mother of James and Salome who brought spices to anoint the body of Jesus and whilst there is no reference in the New Testament that Jesus loved Mary Magdalene, tradition has it that he did. What tender feelings Jesus must have had for Mary to appear first to her after his resurrection.
There is no evidence that Jesus went about looking for people he could love. He loved all and died on the cross for all. He never doted on any single person or made them out to be more important than the rest. Yet, it is true that he loved some more than others not be treating them with special favours or making them out to be more important than the rest but by the way they touched and moved his spirit to love them, being loving themselves.
HIS LOVE FOR MANKIND
The love of Jesus for mankind was very great. There were times when Jesus wept. He was sorrowful. He wept for Mary and Martha when Lazarus had died.[iv] He was sorrowful for Jerusalem.[v] He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.[vi] He had good reason to be sorrowful. As St. John said, ‘He came unto his own and his own received him not.’[vii]
It is written by the prophet Isaiah, ‘He has poured out his soul unto death. He was counted as a sinner, and he bore the sins of many, and he pled with God for sinners.’[viii]
His greatest sorrow was the sinfulness of mankind, that despite all his miracles, he was distrusted and rejected.
[i] John 11:5
[ii] John 13:23, John 20:2
[iii] Mark 16:9
[iv] John 11:35
[v] Matthew 23:37
[vi] Isaiah 53:3
[vii] John 1:11
[viii] Isaiah 53:12