“But many were amazed when they saw him.” (Isaiah 52:14)

“Undying love” is the hallmark of many famous couples. Look at Romeo and Juliet. Wait… they both died. Okay, but you get my point. They ended their lives because they didn’t want to live without each other.

While this classic story romanticizes suicide, that is not love. Love doesn’t give up because things didn’t go the desired way. And love doesn’t quit because “alone” is too hard. True love is what Jesus did. He lived for his beloved (mankind) and then because it was the only way to save humanity, he died in our place. And He didn’t just hang on a cross (as if that wasn’t enough), He was tortured and humiliated too! Just picturing that scene makes me wince. But sometimes vivid graphics are necessary to open the eyes of the heart. Isaiah 52:14 shows the clear effect of all our Lord endured, “But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.”

Paintings often depict Jesus as handsome, but Chuck Smith once said, “your first look at the face of Jesus is apt to be shocking”. It’s the dying love displayed at the cross that awakens one to the Savior’s beauty. It draws us to repentance and creates a desire for more intimate knowledge of Him. It’s incredible to think He did this for us before we loved Him! 1 John 4:10 explains, “In this act we see what real love is: it is not our love for God but his love for us when he sent his Son to satisfy God’s anger against our sins.” As the old saying goes, “Life is short, Death is sure. Sin the cause, Christ the cure.” The word “Christian” means “little Christ” and love is His trademark. In fact, John 13:35 states “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” It’s a family crest worn by believers distinguishing them from the rest of the world. Christ’s example enables us to love others, even when their words and actions are unlovable, and love ourselves, even when we feel unworthy.

Let me ask a simple, yet probing question…are you a lover of The Bible?

Because Jesus is The Living Word, who took on flesh to settle sin’s debt, providing the only hope for connection with our Heavenly Father. The everlasting love letter was God-breathed to sustain us till we see Him face to face. From Genesis to Revelation, God shows the way – through Jesus. You see, the righteousness of Jesus makes a Christian, and His love marks our walk as we’re molded into His image (sometimes with a chisel) but obedience is what reflects our love for God. Jesus lived, loved and quoted scripture, obeying unto death. His dusty feet deserve more than our dusty Bibles.

Undying love without Christ will, ironically, only lead to death. But God knows our hearts – our passions, deeds, motivations and masks. If the flame for His Word is dim, ask Him to fan it. He will. Then, examine yourself by its light because we can’t begin to comprehend life or death without Him. Neither can we fully appreciate, or share with others, what we don’t know.

Christ’s undying love became dying love, not because He couldn’t live without us but because we can’t live without Him. May we follow His footsteps with undying love as we die to the lies and lusts of this world through sanctifying scriptures. Gaze on Him and be amazed!

SHINE, always