Loving can be hard. Just look in John 11. We’re told, “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” (11:5). A lot of loving is going on in this chapter! Love is a wonderful thing, but if we think loving is easy, well, that’s rarely true, and it’s certainly not the case here.
If Mary and Martha hadn’t loved their brother Lazarus, his sickness and death wouldn’t have cost them the price of a telegram (or smoke signals or a runner or . . .) to get the news to Jesus. Nor would it have cost them something far more pricey, buckets of bitter tears.
If Jesus hadn’t loved Lazarus and his sisters, the news of his sickness and, later, the knowledge of his death, wouldn’t have cost the Lord a trip back to dangerous territory, the misunderstanding of His disciples and Mary and Martha, precious tears shed with those sisters, and the unleashing of enough power to literally raise the dead.
If Jesus hadn’t loved Lazarus, He wouldn’t have raised him from the dead, and this miracle would not have been the final straw that caused the chief priests and Pharisees to call a meeting to make plans to kill Him (11:53), plans so serious that Jesus had to withdraw near the desert lest His death occur on His enemies’ time-table instead of on His own.
If the disciples hadn’t loved the Lord, Jesus’ decision to go back to the region where the authorities had recently sought to stone Him would have presented no problem at all: they’d have simply stayed on the safe side of the Jordan. It was because they loved Him that Thomas finally said, basically, “I’m pretty sure going back means that the Lord will be killed by His enemies, and I’m just as sure that if we go, we’ll die, too, but let’s saddle up, “that we may die with Him” (11:16).
Loving can be hard, and a very good case can be made that it’s loving that causes a lot of the difficulty for the folks in John 11 and, come to think of it, for folks like you and me. Maybe, then, we should un-complicate our lives by simply refusing to love. Maybe we should just become cold and unfeeling and cast off love so that our lives will be easier and we can avoid the pain caused by loving.
You know I’m not serious about that. Yes, loving can be hard, but the only thing worse than the pain of loving would be the pain of refusing to love.
Jesus raised Lazarus from the tomb and those sisters from their grief because He so loved them. He raises all of His children, His friends, from the tombs of our sin and guilt for one reason: His love. “For God so loved the world” that He sent His Son, and the Son so loved that He was willing to die to purchase pardon for you, for me.
Loving is hard. No one knows that better than our Lord who, knowing the cost, loves us completely, and pays the price.