Jesus looked at him and loved him.—Mark 10:21 (NIV)
As Jesus was wrapping up a visit to Judea, a young man commonly dubbed “the rich young ruler” ran up and knelt before Him to ask for the key to eternal life. Jesus cited some of the most common commandments—don’t murder, commit adultery, lie, cheat, or dishonor your parents—leaving the man feeling pretty good about himself. He even said as much.
Jesus knew this man. He created this man. He knew the man’s words before they came out of his mouth. Moreover, he could see into the man’s heart. Yet as this man was about to reveal his true colors, proving he loved his worldly treasures above all else, Jesus looked at him with love.
We often imagine God looking down at us in judgment or disgust when we’re at our worst or we somehow fall short. But our failures don’t invalidate His love for us or disqualify us from being called His children.
But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.—Romans 5:8
God’s love doesn’t come with terms or conditions. It doesn’t keep score. It has no expiration date.
Though our sins grieve Him, His default is love. He invites us to love Him in return by accepting what Jesus has done for us on the cross and walking in obedience to Him (John 14:21). But His love is just as true for those who reject Him as for those who love Him.
You can deny Him, but He won’t deny His love for you. You can ignore Him, but His thoughts of you will remain too numerous to count because of His great love for you (Psalm 139:17-18a). You can try to outrun Him, but His love for you will never run out.
As you walk away from him, He looks upon you with love and longing. And as you wearily journey back to Him, He runs toward you with open arms (Luke 15:20).
Watching “The Chosen” has helped me to imagine what it would feel to look into the loving eyes of Jesus or receive His touch. When I am sad or discouraged or struggling to process something, I close my eyes and imagine my Savior looking lovingly at me. His love becomes like a warm blanket wrapped around me. It becomes my place of refuge. But His love is not imaginary. It’s real and tangible and manifested in the perfect God-man who became our perfect sacrifice.
This is the love—that crazy, relentless love, as Francis Chan describes it—that drove Jesus to the cross. And this is the love that should drive us each and every day. It is a love that has breached the chasm between heaven and earth and has transformed the trajectory of countless souls. It’s available to you now and for all eternity.
We love Him because He first loved us.—1 John 4:19