In this Lenten season, our thoughts and hearts often turn to the life of Jesus and those closest to him as he walked the streets of Nazareth and Cana and Jerusalem, as he strolled along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and sat on the hillside above Capernaum.
He knew the end of his earthly life and ministry was near, and yet he continued to live his daily life in the fullness of those around him, as directed by God of course, but nonetheless committed to imparting and equipping those men who were his closest friends on earth.
Oftentimes we fail to think of the 12 disciples as ordinary men. We put them on pedestals, almost in the likenesses of some of our celebrity idols in this current day. We forget that they had homes, jobs, families, and all the ordinary responsibilities that you and I have.
Yet they left what they had and where they were to put themselves under the tutelage of this supposedly “uneducated” rabbi from the town of Nazareth. As one of them said, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” But out of Nazareth he came and proceeded to turn the world upside down.
One of the questions I often ask as I read the Gospels is: Why would any one of these men drop everything and follow Jesus? They did not know it would only be for a short three-year period.
Yet they were so amazed, so impressed, and so motivated by his demeanor and his speaking that they literally dropped what they were doing and followed him. They went where he told them to go and they did what he asked them to do.
I wish I could honestly say that they never complained about any of it, but I would probably be remiss if I did so. In fact, we know that they argued among themselves from time to time and debated over their priority status within the group.
Jesus loved them anyway. And Jesus loves us too. “But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
In the short time that Jesus was ministering, those men – well, most of them anyway – even though they were consistently surprised and amazed by him and the things he did, came to love and revere this one who was the Son of the living God. “For the love of Christ controls us…” (2 Corinthians 5:14). They allowed His love to flow through them to those around them.
One of the things about the love of Christ is that it is inexhaustible. You can never run out of it. There is plenty of it to go around and the well that exudes the love of Christ never runs dry.
On the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean Sea is a crater that is located in an extinct volcano. This crater is completely filled with pitch. Its surface is firm enough for people to walk on, although gas still escapes from below, forming bubbles here and there just under the surface.
For several decades now, huge loads of asphalt have been dug out from this tar-like lake and shipped to all parts of the world for use in paving roads.
The interesting thing about this lake is that no matter how large a hole is made in the pitch, it does not remain so for more than 72 hours, because it fills up from below. Shiploads of asphalt have been taken out of this crater for almost 50 years; yet it is never empty.
The organizers of the Beijing Olympics constructed all the roads they built and re-built and surfaced and resurfaced with tar from this lake. Drillings taken all over this 89-acre lake reveal that this black, gum-like substance is still found at a depth of 350 feet. The supply seems constant and endless.
It is the same way with God’s love: no matter how much of it that you withdraw, you will never cause an overdraft in the heavenly bank account of love. It is endless and constant. You cannot run it dry. You can always count on Him to love you and keep you and go with you through whatever you face
One of the most refreshing and encouraging facts about our relationship with God is that no matter what we do, no matter what we think, no matter how we respond to the things that life throws our way, God’s love will see us through: “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Ephesians 3:17 tells us that we should “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”
The point is that His love for you and for me is immense and unmeasurable! The next time you are tempted to think God could not love you, think about the La Brea Tar Pits.
You can never run out of His love.
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.