song: Pride (In the Name of Love)
I know this song is usually identified as being about Martin Luther King, Jr., but these are the lyrics that always stand out to me the most, because they are truth in the purest form.
It is not the ‘religion’ of Christianity that I love so much, it’s the CHRIST of Christianity. Today being Easter Sunday, it’s a day that I am yet again feeling overwhelmed with the love that Christ has shown for me.
Have you ever felt the sting of hurt from a close friend?
Perhaps even a betrayal?
What if you had called 12 people from the world to be your closest brothers, taught them your truth, and one of them betrayed you to death for 30 pieces of silver. Can you imagine the pain your heart would feel?
What if you called the remaining 11 to come pray with you as you understood the time of that betrayal and your crucifixion was near . . and while you prayed and anguished over what was to come for you, your closest friends fell asleep on you, not once, but twice? Would you feel as if you anguished alone?
What if you had to tell one of those 11, one who was an enthusiastic and vocal supporter of you and your work . . the one who, out of reverence for you had tried to stop you from washing his feet at supper . . the one who would follow you after your arrest just to be near you . . what if you had to tell him that he would deny even knowing you three times that very night?
And even in his vehement denial, you knew that he would do this?
And what if, only hours later, you witnessed all three times . . you heard him say, “I don’t know him,” and “I am not (one of his disciples)!” and “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” when he was “accused” of being one of your beloved.
And what if, as you were brutally crucified and mocked by ungrateful men who scoffed and scorned and ridiculed . . . you had to feel the most overwhelming sorrow of all in the hours that your Father, a holy God, had to turn His back on the sin and shame you bore for us, and you felt the darkness of that separation from Him in that time . . perhaps the most difficult thing of all to endure.
And yet, in all of this . . . love.
What I remember most about seeing ‘The Passion of the Christ’ was the moment depicted after Peter’s third denial of knowing the Christ he followed and loved. Christ himself had told Peter this would happen, and just after it did, Luke 22:61 says, “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him . . . and he went outside and wept bitterly.”
Peter was crushed that he’d disappointed the Lord. But what did the Lord give in return? Nothing but a look of pure love. There was no hint of condemnation or judgment in his eyes . . . only the love Peter knew Christ had for him.
How bitter those tears must have felt.
Here Christ is, beaten, bleeding, crucified, mocked, ridiculed, suffering, betrayed by His friend Judas, denied by His follower Peter, and feeling momentarily forsaken by His beloved Father in heaven. And what does He ask for those who hurt him? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
In His last few hours on this Earth, Christ told His disciples to ‘love one another as I have loved you.’ Christ loved unconditionally, sacrificially, and without measure. He loved in spite of, not because. He loved when it wasn’t deserved and it wasn’t earned. He gave us a definition of love that I’m not sure we could understand without Him.
John 15:13 is an often repeated verse, saying, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
What, then, can we know about the one who would willingly lay down his life for His betrayers and His deniers? His mockers and His ingrates?
What can be said of Him?
Perhaps this: That the greatest of all love can never be duplicated.
I’m thankful for Christ: betrayed with a kiss and yet, in the name of the purest love, has already laid down His life for me. For you.
What more, indeed.