What Love Looks Like

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

Turn with me to Matthew 27.

The world struggles to see what “love” is. You hear it’s cry in secular songs. The Rock Group Foreigner sang, “I Want To Know What Love Is”. Tina Turner sang “What’s Love Got To Do With It? What’s Love But A Second Hand Emotion?”. Elvis Presley “Can’t Help Falling In Love”. Dolly Parton sang “I Will Always Love You”. For Willie Nelson, “You Are Always on My Mind”. Heavy D is happy, “Now That We Found Love”.

If you want to see what true love is, then you need to look at Jesus Christ. Look at Him as He willingly laid His life down for us. Jesus said in:

John 10:17-18 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.

God laid His life down willingly for us, that we might be saved. This is love. We see what love is when we look at Jesus, and how He responded to the Cross.

1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

As Jesus laid His life down, He calls us to lay our lives down. He laid His life down for us on Calvary. He expects us to lay our lives down for Him. If we are to be friends of God, we must have this type of love. A sacrificial love. A willing love. Jesus said:

John 15:13-14 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Love is not about me, and getting my way. Love is to sacrifice myself for the blessing of another.

I heard a worship song the other day where they kept singing:

And oh, how He loves us, oh
Oh how He loves us
How He loves us all.
Yeah, He loves us.

It is true that God loves us. And we are to love Him as He loves us. We are to love others as He loves us. That is what love is. It is not a carnal satisfaction found in a feeling. Love is defined by the Cross. Love is a willing surrender to elevate another. “To us there is but One God, the Father, OF WHOM ARE ALL THINGS, and we in Him; and One Lord Jesus Christ, BY WHOM ARE ALL THINGS, and we by Him” (1 Corinthians 8:6). Jesus willingly chose to “bring many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10) by going to the Cross for us. Let’s look to the Cross.

Love QuietlyDied Took My Cross

Matthew 27:21-26 The governor {Pilate} answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. 22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. 24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. 25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. 26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Barabbas had previously been found guilty of both insurrection and murder (Mark 15:7). An insurrectionist is someone who violently rebels against lawful authority, and Barabbas had done it and got caught. We don’t know much about Barabbas. His name means, according to Hitchcock’s Bible Dictionary, “a son of shame”. Barabbas may not be a name, but a description of this terrible sinner. He was a prisoner, a number, a nameless criminal, a murderer. Stripped of his name, the “son of shame” waited to be executed.

Matthew 27:16 and they had then a NOTABLE prisoner, called Barabbas.

The Romans – and in particular Roman soldiers – took great pleasure in public executions. Barabbas was waiting for death in a dank cell.

According to Roman custom, the accused was
made to create his own cross.

Though he had not wanted to make it, I am sure the soldiers scourged Barabbas, and beat him, until he made his cross. Now he waited to be nailed to it, to die for taking another’s life. Someone comes to the door of the cell. It is a soldier. “Barabbas, get up! It is time.” He comes out of the darkness, and hears the cry of the crowd.

Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

I’m sure Barabbas thought it was for him they cried. But as he came into the light, Pilate asks, “We have Barabbas, the son of shame, and Jesus. Which shall I release?” The crowd, egged on by the Jewish Court called the Sanhedrin, says “Let Jesus be crucified”. Pilate cries out, “What evil has He done?” The crowd does not answer. They just shout, “Let Jesus be crucified!”. When Pilate saw that there was no way to do otherwise, he washes his hands of the verdict, saying

Matthew 27:24 {Pilate} took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

Focus It is interesting that only Matthew records Pilate “washing his hands” when passing verdict on Christ. Matthew was Jewish, and the Priests washed their hands before making a sacrifice.

When the Pharisees were debating whether to betray Jesus to Pilate, the High Priest Caiphas said in John 11:50,{It is} expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” This was an inadvertent prophecy that Jesus Christ would be sacrificed for the greater good of humanity. When Pilate washed his hands before sacrificing Jesus, it was an eerie parallel to the priest who would kill a lamb for the people. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God! (John 1:29).

Throughout this entire episode our Jesus does not complain nor defend Himself. This is as the Prophet some 700 years before wrote:

Isaiah 53:7-8 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

Jesus was innocent of any sin, and yet He willingly went to the Cross. He had every right to complain, and yet did not. Jesus knew before He ever went to Jerusalem that last time that He was going to be sacrificed – and yet, He went anyway. He had earlier told His disciples:

Matthew 20:18-19 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, 19 and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Jesus died instead of Barabbas. Remember the cross that Barabbas made? On that day, Barabbas was set free, and Jesus took Barabbas’ cross. The Jewish court unlawfully denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life” (Acts 3:14-15). As it was with Joseph in the Old Testament, “they thought evil against Jesus, but God meant it for good, to save many people to life” (my paraphrase of Genesis 50:20).

Jesus died for Barabbas. We are all Barabbas.

We are all, like Barabbas, guilty of sin. The Bible says:

Romans 3:23 … all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

Now you might say, “But wait a minute, preacher. I’m a sinner – but I never murdered anyone.” You may not have physically murdered anyone, but we are all guilty of sin. Jesus said, “anyone who looks at another with lustful intent has already committed adultery in their heart” (Matthew 5:28). Sin is not always an action. It is a thought. “whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5:21-22). Sin is anything that is against the order or design of God. Sin starts in the heart, then moves outward from there. We are all born sinners. The Bible says:

Romans 6:23 … the wages of sin is DEATH

God warned Adam in Genesis 2:17, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” The wages of sin is death. Adam sinned, and brought spiritual death on himself, and on all his progeny (that’s us). We are all Barabbas. Our hands formed the crosses that will kill us. But Jesus took our cross. He took our penalty on Himself. We stand, in our own selves, condemned before God, sinners, lost and undone. But Jesus, in His great love, took Barabbas’ cross. He died in our place. What a wondrous love this is! The Bible declares:

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

2 Corinthians 5:21 For {God} hath made {Jesus} to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

That day an incredulous Barabbas walked free. He should have died for his sin, for God said in Genesis 9:6, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. ” Barabbas deserved death. But he was freed because Jesus took his place. We are freed because Jesus took our place.

John 6:29 … This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Love Does Not Strike Back, But Trusts God

Jesus is delivered to the soldiers to be crucified – but they must first have their sport. The Bible tells us:

Matthew 27:27-31 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. 28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. 29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! 30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. 31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

Jesus Christ as the Son of God is indeed the King of Heaven,

1 Timothy 6:15 … the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords

It is Jesus Who, “in the beginning was with God, and was God” (John 1:1), alongside of Father and Holy Spirit, created all things. The Bible says of Jesus:

John 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Jesus Christ is the revealed Member of the Godhead. God cannot be seen by man, but Jesus is God manifest and seen. Jesus is:

Colossians 1:15-17 … the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

The word “CONSIST” in our above text is the Greek συνιστάω synistáō, {pronounced soon-is-tah’-o}, which means “to pull together” or “constitute”. Jesus not only made all things, He designed all things. He knows their order. He is the Ultimate Ruler. When the Sanhedrin came to get Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told Peter that He did not need his sword:

Matthew 26:53 {Peter}, Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

Jesus had an immense force waiting for His beck and call. Considering that it took but one angel to kill 185,000 armed men in one night (2 Kings 19:35), had Jesus called 12,000 angels to His side, the earth itself would have been destroyed. Here is immense power in the Person of Christ.

And yet struck, He did not strike back. He was capable of striking back, more than capable. But He did not. They clothed Him on as scarlet robe so as to mock Him, and crushed a crown of thorns down on His precious Head. All of Heaven watched, and waited for his call. And yet, love bore up. Scripture must be fulfilled. The Promise of God must be kept. As Jesus said,

But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?”

The Lord told us to

Matthew 5:44-45 … Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

The Son of God could easily have struck back. But He loved the soldiers. He loved us and loves us even when we are unlovable. “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). Jesus “bore His own Cross” (John 19:17), but at one point fell under the load. The soldiers “found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.” (Matthew 27:32).

Matthew 27:33-38 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, 34 they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. 35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. 36 And sitting down they watched him there; 37 and set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.

As they nail a naked and beaten Jesus to that terrible tree, the soldiers gather at the foot of the Cross. They are not there to look upon Him Who is dying for them, but to game for His clothing. The Bible tells us that this was yet another fulfilled prophecy, spoken of in:

Psalm 22:14-18 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. 16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

Jesus is thirsty before He is nailed to the Cross. As a “kindness”, they offer Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. His tongue stuck to the roof of His mouth. As He is nailed to the Cross and dropped into the socket of the earth, His dripping blood makes His thirst more acute. Yet Jesus says nothing. He does not cry out for mercy, nor curse His tormentors.

Love Becomes A Curse For Our Sake

Pastor R.C. Sproul wrote: “When on the cross, not only was the Father’s justice satisfied by the atoning work of the Son, but in bearing our sins the Lamb of God removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. He did it by being cursed. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). He who is the incarnation of the glory of God became the very incarnation of the divine curse.”

In Psalm 22, often called “The Crucifixion Psalm” or “The Psalm Of The Cross”, we have a very vivid description of what our Lord went through as He hung, naked and bleeding, for us. Jesus was mocked by those who watched Him suffer.

Matthew 27:39-44 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, 40 and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. 41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. 44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.

What happens to Jesus is again prophesied in Psalm 22.

Psalm 22:6-8 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. 7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

They mock Jesus. They spit on Jesus. Again, Jesus could have come down from that Cross. But had He done so, we would yet be dead in our trespasses and sins. As Jesus suffers, He says not a word. Peter says of our Master:

1 Peter 2:22-24 {Jesus} did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Jesus has said nothing. No groans are even recorded. But suddenly, the atmosphere of Golgotha (aka Calvary) changes. The sun blots out. Darkness falls in the midst of the day.

Matthew 27:45-46 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

After three hours of darkness – unnatural darkness – Jesus cries out. The words that Jesus says were prophesied over 1000 years before this moment. My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?. If you remember, this is not the first time we see Psalm 22, often called “The Crucifixion Psalm” or “The Psalm Of The Cross”, fulfilled. The first words of Psalm 22 are:

Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

Jesus knows why the Father has turned His back on His Son. Our sins are being poured out on Christ. Jesus – dying for Barabbas – dying for us – hangs on a borrowed Cross. He dies not for His sins, but for ours. Pastor Jon Courson says “Great is the mystery (of godliness) that God became a man (1Timothy 3:16). But greater still is the mystery that the MAN became a LAMB (Jn 1:29) and the LAMB became a WORM to save you and me!” That is so very true!

Beloved, if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I beg you to come to Him this very day. “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation”? (Hebrews 2:3). Jesus Christ went through hell on earth so that you can inherit God’s Heaven beyond time. Will you not believe on Him. I close with this little poem I found in the devotional Streams In The Desert by L.B. Cowman:

The day when Jesus stood alone
And felt the hearts of men like stone,
And knew He came but to atone
That day “He held His peace.”

They witnessed falsely to His word,
They bound Him with a cruel cord,
And mockingly proclaimed Him Lord;
“But Jesus held His peace.”

They spat upon Him in the face,
They dragged Him on from place to place,
They heaped upon Him all disgrace;
“But Jesus held His peace.”

My friend, have you for far much less,
With rage, which you called righteousness,
Resented slights with great distress?
Your Savior “held His peace.”

–L. S. P.

Jesus suffered and died for us, so that we might live. Let us live through love of Him.

Surrender your souls to Jesus, for
He surrendered His soul for you.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Holy Spirit. Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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