Tough and Timely Love

  • Friday, January 15, 2010
  • Is there hope for a "hot-head"?

    I would have certainly given up on him long before. He would definitely have been on my "too rough to finish" list. And you need to is not easy making my "too rough to finish" list! In fact, if there has been a consistent theme in both formal and informal evaluations of my ministry over the years, it is that I don't seem to know when to "give up" on a brother. "You continue too long in trying to bring people along who are obviously not ready to grow!" So...putting him on my "too rough to finish" list is no small thing!

    When announcing the names of the twelve who would be His apostles, Jesus attached nicknames to a few. He gave Simon the name "Peter" and to the two sons of Zebedee He gave the name "Sons of Thunder." Regarding Simon, He saw what He would ultimately make of him and called him "Rocky." Of John and his brother, James, He simply indicated what it was He had to work with and then began the process of changing them. (See Mark 3:16-17)

    The "Sons of Thunder" are not always seen in the most favorable light. Not only do they maneuver for favorable positions but they also appeal to maternal intervention for recognition. Along the way, they are embroiled in the frequent heated debates regarding who was the greatest. Thinking themselves to be something "special," they report to Jesus, "...we saw someone casting out demons in your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us!" (See Luke 9:4)

    But the clearest affirmation of the Lord's insightful nicknaming came when these two brothers rose to defend Jesus' dignity. A community of Samaritans refused to make lodging and meals available to Him. So James and John asked, "Do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" (See Luke 9:54) Sons of Thunder in all their glory! If Peter was a work in process, how much more the Apostle John! Is there hope for a "hot-head"?

    But Jesus always finishes what He starts. And when the rest of the narrative is written, our "Son of Thunder" is honored throughout Church history by the nickname, "The Apostle of Love." In fact, if any one solitary word stands out in the five New Testament books penned by John, it is the word "love." At least 110 times!

    So what kept John's name off the "too rough to finish" list? He hints at it in John 13:1 when he writes, "...having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end." Watching closely as the Lord systematically moved around the circle of disciples rinsing and wiping one foot after the other, John saw Him serve even those the normal individual would more naturally hate than love. He washed the feet of the one who, for pocket change, would kiss Him off. And, after resistance, cleansed the feet of one who strongly verbalized his loyalty, yet would, in just hours, three times deny even knowing Him. He heard Jesus say, and he took it to heart... "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another." (See John 13:34)

    Is there hope for a "hot-head"? Yes! When they repeatedly see the gracious, forgiving love of Jesus. Tough and timely love!


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