"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!"
-- Matthew 23:37
When I was a boy, my father worked at a country radio station in Valdosta, Georgia. One day while visiting him I saw an album cover, heard a song, and fell in love with Emmylou Harris.
Emmylou didn't love me back. Though I've seen her in concert, we've never met personally. I think now it's too late for us to ever have a meaningful relationship. Love hurts.
"Love hurts, love scars, love wounds and mars,
Any heart not tough, or strong enough,
To take a lot of pain, take a lot of pain,
Love is like a cloud, it holds a lot of rain.
Love hurts. Ooh, love hurts."
Such is the song sung more seriously by our Savior, Jesus Christ. God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, a Son who lived and loved, a Son who was criticized throughout His public ministry and crucified at its end. Knowing what was about to happen, Jesus expresses in last, loving words of His final public sermon just how badly love hurts.
Love hurts when love is not returned. Perhaps you had a crush on a boy or girl at school and they did not return your affection. Maybe you are among those of us who entered into a covenant marriage for keeps, only to have your spouse shatter it with divorce papers. On any and every level, love hurts when the one you love does not love you.
Jesus' love for Jerusalem was an extraordinary, motherly love that shows the people He wanted to hold keeping Him at arms' length. He invites them into a relationship with Him, but the prophets and preachers he sends repeatedly have their invitations sent back with mocking or murder.
Jerusalem represents the religious world. All the people of this world are religious, in some form or fashion, even if the religion only consists of self-worship. Jesus loves all the religious children of the world. But do they love Jesus? Do they truly know and really follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? No, they do not. This is why, at least as Jesus shows us in this passage, love hurts.
People who do not obey the word of God and embrace the gospel are people who do not love God. People who are not willing to come to Jesus in sincere repentance and faith are people who do not love God. People who are unwilling to celebrate the Lord in baptism, communion, corporate worship, and other Christian disciplines are people who really love themselves, who love doing only what they want to do; therefore, they do not love God.
Love hurts when it's not returned, and love hurts when you wait too late. If you truly love someone, tell them before they are dead, for then it will be too late. If you really love the Lord Jesus Christ, you better tell Him before you're dead. For after death, if you have not truly loved the Lord, it will be too late for love and it will hurt, beyond repair.
Michael Jordan was once cut from his high school basketball team. Upon his induction to the Hall of Fame, he invited the very coach who cut him, then proceeded to humiliate him in front of the entire audience. That may have been bad taste on Michael's part, but imagine being that coach who cut him having to face him at, of all places, the entrance to basketball heaven.
Imagine what it will be like for most people when the Lord returns, when it will be too late to receive God's offer of grace. For those who did not return the Lord's love, and those who just waited too late, there will be no singing, no joy, no peace. There will be only weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Their time will run out and love will hurt.
Fall in love with Jesus today. He already loves you, so it won't hurt, unless you don't, or unless you wait until it's too late.
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church, 5963 Central Ave. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]