He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. –Mark 5:37
How Jesus Loved People
Jesus loved everybody, but he didn’t love everybody the same. Do you realize that? He loved (and loves) every person on the planet. He loves every one of us so much, he laid down his life, for each of us. But when he was here, walking the earth, he loved different people differently. He fed 5,000, and then 4,000, for a total of 9,000, but he didn’t feed everybody. The people he fed were those who followed him and listened to him. He didn’t heal everybody. The people he healed were the ones who believed in him and cried out to him. He didn’t train everybody. He trained seventy-two of his closest followers as his ambassadors. (Luke 10) And then there’s the twelve. There were twelve who were especially close to him. He let them in, close, so they could see up close how he lived. He gave the twelve private insights into parables left unexplained to others. (Mark 4:10) And then there’s the three: Peter, James, and John. Jesus let these three in even closer. He loved Peter, James, and John by bringing them with him for the transfiguration, and when he raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead, and when he sweat great drops of blood in the garden of Gethsemane just before they took him away to be tried and sentenced to crucifixion in their kangaroo court system. Only the three were allowed to accompany Jesus during these occasions. (Matthew 17:1-11, Mark 5:35-43, Mark 14:32-52)
Love Like Jesus
You know before Jesus chose the twelve he spent the night on a mountainside praying. (Luke 6:12-16) To love like Jesus, you do the same. Prayerfully seek out who your Father will have you love, like Jesus loved the three, and the twelve, and the seventy-two, and the 9,000. For many of us, those closest three will be family members. The twelve might be other family, neighbors, and co-workers. The seventy might be more neighbors and co-workers. And the thousands might be people you reach on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter account. For some of us, instead of three there may only be one, and instead of the twelve, there may only be–another one. And that’s it. Most of us will fall somewhere in between. Take comfort in knowing that you, like John the Baptist, are not the Christ. So don’t feel like you have to minister to thousands like Jesus did, or even a dozen, like Jesus did. (John 1:20)
Prayer is the key. Letting your Father choose who to let in closest and who to let in less, can lead to the abundant life He wants for you. (John 15:11) But moving forward without your Father’s direction will almost certainly result in disaster. I think of Billy Graham, and how, at times, he was with his ministry team more than he was with his wife Ruth. But Ruth was a rare bird. She may have been the only woman on the planet capable of dealing with the kind of life Billy Graham led. I’m very confident God doesn’t have it in mind for me to do it the way Billy Graham did, because if I did it that way, I’m pretty sure I’d be divorced.
The whole point is, to love like Jesus, you won’t love everyone the same.
To love like Jesus, be prayerfully intentional about who you let in close, and who you have contact with more occasionally.
That’s what Jesus did.
You can too.
Jon Courson’s Application Commentary New Testament, Nelson 2005
[Image via nick see – Creative Commons]