Today’s post is from my new book Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus). Last Saturday we posted Chapter 14: Love Like Jesus–Give Like Jesus. Love Like Jesus is due to be published later this year.
Love Like Jesus–Don’t Love Everyone The Same
And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James.
How Jesus Loved People
Jesus loved everybody, but he didn’t love everybody the same. Have you ever thought about 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 corrupt court system. Only the three were allowed to accompany Jesus on those occasions. (Matthew 17:1-11, Mark 5:35-43, Mark 14:32-52)
How To Love Like Jesus
Before Jesus chose the twelve, he spent the night on a mountainside praying about who he should choose. (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-two might be more neighbors and co-workers. And the thousands might be people you reach on social media. 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 as Jesus did, or even a dozen, like Jesus did. (John 1:20)
It’s not how many that’s important, prayer is what’s important. Prayer is the key. Jesus prayerfully chose the twelve. And not one of those twelve belonged to the Levitical priesthood. In fact, none were remarkable in any way. Their only common traits were their desire to follow Jesus and learn. Prayerfully finding people with those two simple traits is important. Asking your Father to lead you to choose people who desire to follow Jesus and learn, as those to let in closest, and asking your Father to lead you in choosing who to let in less, can result in the abundant life He wants for you. (John 15:11) But moving forward without your Father’s direction will result in a depleted life. There were times in my life when I made friends without praying or thinking. I made friends mostly based on who I seemed to click with. During those times my life was random and unfruitful at best, dark and sinful at worst. Other people I observe who make friends this way have similar outcomes.
How Jesus Loved Those He Let In Close, And How You Can Too
Billy Graham once said:
“Christ, I think, set the pattern. He spent most of his time with twelve men. He didn’t spend it with a great crowd. In fact, every time he had a great crowd it seems to me that there weren’t too many results. The great results, it seems to me, came in this personal interview and in the time he spent with his twelve.”
When we look at how Jesus loved people differently, and how he loved those he let in close, we see a pattern emerge. It’s a pattern you and I can adopt ourselves. You can love those you let in close the way Jesus loved those he let in close. When Jesus called John and Andrew, he invited them to “come and see.” (John 1:39)
- So let the ones you let in close come and see how you live. Let them see your intimate walk with Jesus. Model the life of a true Christ follower as Jesus was a model to his disciples. Let them hear you pray, as Jesus let those he let in close hear him pray. Let them hear scripture in your conversation, even as Jesus’ disciples heard scripture in Jesus’ conversation. Let them see how you live out what you learn from this book, and more importantly, how you live out what you learn from the scriptures.
- Then, after a time, ask those you let in close to assist you in doing the work of God’s kingdom. Ask them to assist you in ministry as Jesus asked his disciples to assist him in ministry.
- Then you help them do ministry for a time. Give them an outlet. If there’s no outlet for them, like a pond without its water flowing, stagnation is the certain result.
- Then let them work alone. And then they can reproduce the pattern.
Remember, Jesus’ intention all along was for those closest to him to produce his likeness in others. Bearing fruit was and is essential to following Christ. The branch must bear fruit. (John 15:1-2) This was the pattern we saw from Jesus in his relationships with those closest to him, the twelve, and even the seventy-two. And the disciples learned this pattern because Jesus let them in.
Robert E. Coleman puts it this way,
“Having called his men, Jesus made a practice of being with them. This was the essence of his training program — just letting his disciples follow him.
“When one stops to think of it, this was an incredibly simple way of doing it. Jesus had no formal school, no seminaries, no outlined courses of study, no periodic membership classes in which he enrolled his followers. None of these highly organized procedures considered so necessary today entered into his ministry. Amazing as it may seem, all Jesus did to teach these men his way was to draw them close to himself.”
This is how Jesus loved people, he loved different people differently. He loved all people, but he didn’t love all people the same. For Jesus, there was a steep increase in priority from the masses to those he was most intimate with.
And the greatest fruit came from the few he let in close.
So to love like Jesus, don’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. Prayerfully choose to let a small number in close, even as Jesus did.
Then love those you let in close, the way Jesus loved those he let in close.
When Jesus called John and Andrew, he invited them to “come and see.”
- Robert E. Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism, Revell, 1993
Further study will be rewarded. I recommend Robert E. Coleman’s classic: The Master Plan of Evangelism, and David and Paul Watson’s excellent book, Contagious Disciple Making. Much of what you’ve read in this chapter came from or was inspired by those two sources.
David Watson and Paul Watson, Contagious Disciple Making: Leading Others on a Journey of Discovery, Thomas Nelson, 2014