A flood of sweet joy flooded into my heart as I listened. I could feel warm tears welling up in my eyes and I loved it. It was a beautiful thing to here this man talk about Jesus. He wasn’t diving into the depths of theology or soaring to the heights of worship. No, he was overcome by such an intimate and gentle love that nothing but Jesus could give.
I love listening to people like this, to those who have such a personal and sweet relationship with Him. I love listening to them because they emulate so well who I think Jesus actually is: personal, vulnerable, and intimate. They remind me of people like Mary and John.
Mary had such a unique relationship with Jesus. In John 11 it says that “Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus”. When Lazarus (her brother) had died “[Jesus] was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled” and he actually wept. Now I cannot think of many other places in scripture where it says that Jesus loved a specific person or was “deeply moved in his spirit”; his love for her is highlighted here. It was also Mary who anointed Jesus’ feet with incredibly valuable perfume. Finally, she was one a few family and friends who watched Jesus be crucified. But what I love most is when Jesus appears to her after he is resurrected. She is the first person that he sees and all that he says to her is, “Mary”. Now for us reading the Bible on our iPad’s, millenniums after these events actually occurred, it can be hard to feel the weight of this. But I try to imagine the overwhelming joy that must have rushed into Mary’s heart when she heard Jesus speak her name. I try to imagine the thoughts that must have cascaded over her mind. I try to imagine what it must have been like to go from the deepest caverns of despair to such stratospherical joy. All of this because she knew and loved Jesus intimately.
Likewise, John was equally, if not more so, close with Jesus. He was his disciple for years, sat right by Him at the Last Supper, was the only one who went with Him into the high courts to be beaten, and was there when He was crucified. He was also known as “the disciple whom he (Jesus) loved”. He loved Jesus and Jesus loved him.
So what is it about these people that allows them to have such a sweet relationship with Jesus? Here are a couple things that I believe to be true about these people:
1.They’re eyes are fixated on Jesus. Mary was so entirely enthralled with Jesus. As she wiped His feet with her perfume soaked hair, the sneering and scolding of those around her faded away. Her heart stared headlong into Jesus wonderful face. “Leave her alone,” Jesus said, his eyes fixed on hers, “Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mark14:6). She has done a beautiful thing to me… She has fixed her eyes and seen beauty itself.
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”
Peter learned this the hard way. He had his eyes on Jesus but then the cool salty water splashed his face, the piercing winds slid his gaze off of Jesus and onto the chaos around him. Oswald Chambers puts it this way,
“Immediately a man gets out of touch with God,
he finds the basis of things is not beauty and love,
but chaos and wrath.”
2.They experience life with Jesus. I had a caged relationship with Jesus; that cage was my brain. I thought about him a lot. I read about him a lot. I theorized what it would look like to go “all-in” for him a lot. But all of that was trapped in the cage on my neck. I hadn’t actually experienced life with Jesus. This last year has changed that quite a bit. I met a beautiful girl who’s been teaching me that each and every day holds the potential to explore a new and glorious trail in the forest of Jesus’ love. I spent a summer experiencing Jesus’ active working in the hearts of children; slowly, patiently, and gently untangling them from the thorns. John was experiencing life with Jesus on earth for three years. He saw the miracles. He eavesdropped on the personal conversations. He heard Him say, “It is finished”. He followed Jesus through the light and the darkness. If we don’t experience the widespread spectrum of life with Jesus then our hearts will be numb to the endless continuum of his grace and love.
3.They spend time alone with Jesus. Mary was with Him at the tomb. John was with Him in the courts. Jesus was with his Father in the garden. In the chaos and in the calm, it is so good to simply be with Him.
Love God and Love people, that is why we are here. But both of these aren’t meant to be a burden, they’re actually a divine invitation to pure and sweet joy, an invitation to live with Jesus.
So what do I do? Well, I think we need to start where our relationship with Jesus started, surrendering:
“Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it?” – Galatians 3:2-4 (MSG)
Everyday. We ask Jesus to bring us closer everyday and trust that he will perfect what he started.
Ps The whale picture has nothing to do with this…It’s just awesome