I’ve heard people say that a description of Jesus is fairly accurate by replacing the word ‘love’ for ‘Jesus’ in 1 Corinthians 13. I imagine you have too. But I’ve never heard anyone elaborate. So I will give it a go. This isn’t comprehensive, so add your contribution in the comments section.
Love is patient.
The disciples play a prominent role in the Bible’s four accounts of Jesus’ life. But they seldom really get him. They misunderstand and question him. One of my favourites occurs when Jesus tells the disciples that Lazarus’ death will bring glory to God. Thomas’ response is great. He says “Let’s all die so God will be more glorified.” Clearly, they don’t get Jesus. Jesus never gets cranky though. He is the epitome of patience.
Love is kind.
There are so many examples of Jesus’ kindness in the Bible. He heals the sick. He hangs out with outsiders. One of the best known is the way Jesus treated children. In a society where children weren’t valued, Jesus included them.
Love does not envy.
Jesus didn’t have a high standing within society. He was a travelling teacher. His message and ministry would have been bigger if he was the High Priest, or if he had a strong social platform. But he never sought these. He didn’t envy having a platform. Instead, he spoke from hillsides and boats knowing his message would be rejected.
Love is not boastful.
It is hard to find examples where Jesus may be tempted to be boastful but one that comes to mind is during his temptation. I can imagine it could have been tempting for Jesus to have told Satan to buzz off. But he didn’t. Instead, he endured temptation without using his divine position.
Love is not conceited.
I like the NIV’s translation which says love ‘is not proud.’ This is a description of Jesus’ life. He sought lowness. Fundamental to Christianity is the belief that Jesus is the Son of God who became human. What an image of humility. This is backed up by his teaching. He always called people to think of others before themselves.
Love does not act improperly.
Again, I like the NIV’s rendering of ‘dishonour others.’ Jesus speaks to a Samaritan woman at a well. She is there alone, rejected by her community. She is in a place of shame. But Jesus doesn’t ignore her. He shows her who he is even though it crosses several cultural norms.
Love is not selfish.
Love is not provoked.
The religious elite constantly provoked Jesus. They tried to trap him in theological arguments. They condemned him for associating with ‘sinners.’ When a woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus, he didn’t condemn her. Neither did he justify her actions. Jesus is justified in judging her actions as wrong but is compassionate. He forgives and tells her to sin no more. He understands the wrongdoing, forgives, and brings correction.
Love keeps no records of wrong.
The story of Peter’s denial of Jesus is a beautiful description of Jesus’ forgiveness. Jesus sought out Peter after his denial. It isn’t just that Jesus ‘keeps no records of wrongs,’ but he pursues forgiving.
Love finds no joy in unrighteousness.
Jesus causes scandal in the Temple when he drives out money-changers and traders. This doesn’t sound that loving does it? But look deeper. These money-changers and traders were exploiting people. They were ripping people off and preventing them from worshipping. Jesus’ anger is an act of love. It is an act which doesn’t tolerate unrighteousness but acts on behalf of the exploited.
Love rejoices in the truth.
Jesus has a unique relationship with truth. He claims that he is the way, the truth and the life. Most likely Jesus is claiming that he is the fullness of truth because of his unique relationship with God. John agrees with him; seeing Jesus is to see the truth of God. Jesus rejoices in truth because he rejoices in his relationship with God. But he offers this same truth to others. He promises that following him is to walk in a truth that brings freedom.
Central to the Christian faith is that, because Jesus was sinless, he was able to take upon himself and bear the punishment for everyone’s sin. This is the extreme image of love bearing all things.
Love believes all things.
Jesus believed he would defeat death. Yes, he would suffer and die but he knew he would be raised back to life.
Love hopes all things.
One of the things Jesus taught his followers was to expect his return. He taught his followers to hope for a day when Jesus would return and make all things right.
Love endures all things.
Any other examples of how Jesus is love? Leave a comment below.