We have all heard it before Jesus loves us. But as we think about Easter and the Crucifixion and resurrection, we need to be reminded Jesus loved us, but it was and is a messy love. During Christmas we think about the birth of Jesus, we think of sweet baby Jesus and the wise men and the gifts and the songs. We sing Silent Night, it goes:
Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin, Mother, Mother and Child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace
Luke 2:6-7 says it this way, “And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” That may not say much but let’s stop and think about it for a sec. He was born in a barn, placed in a feeding trough, surrounded by dirty nasty animals who had probably never been bathed. In a barn that had not been cleaned out, with flies swarming around and animal droppings on the ground. Shepherds were the ones who came to see him, they were lower class individuals who spent all their time with animals, They slept out in fields and did not have good opportunities for hygiene and they stunk. And this messy dirty start framed the rest of his ministry. This was not some silent, calm, night. It was stinky and smelly, and I’m sure unsanitary. He loved us with a messy love.
He could have been born to anyone, to kings or princes, or someone of great reputation. Yet he was born to a carpenter and to a woman who most thought was having a baby out of wedlock, and they had to flee Herod’s persecution and they became refugees. In Matthew 8, a scribe said he wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus told him in v. 20, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Jesus was a wanderer a migrant, no place to stop and call home.
He loved us, but it was a messy love. He walked on dirty streets, caked with mud, filth, and grime. He then would go up to a leper, a social outcast, and touch the rotting flesh, filled with maggots and pus and heal them. He would go to those no one else would talk to or associate with and welcome them. He would welcome the tax collector and prostitute.
Jesus loved us with a messy love. Jesus did not stop loving just in the streets. Jesus loved us all the way to the cross. The cross was gruesome and horrible. The crucifixion was made to be the worst torture imaginable.
Jesus loved us with a messy love. And then Jesus said in Phil 2:5, “Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” We too are to have a messy kind of love. A love that is not cool or convenient or calculated. A love that gets down and dirty and loves the unlovable. A love that is not easy and will cost us something. Who in your life do you need to practice messy love with?
But we practice this messy love because Jesus’ story did not stop on Friday. The story continued till Sunday, when he defeated sin and death and Satan. God’s love rolled the stone away and because of that we can have hope and the strength to love others with a messy, Jesus like love.