One of the hardest people to love is a self-righteous sinner who thinks he has his spiritual act together.
We find just such a person in the Gospel of Mark. The rich young man was a know-it-all. He had such a high opinion of himself that he refused to confess his sin. Most of us would not have liked this man at all.
In fact, it was just because Jesus loved this man that he gave him the generosity test for love. He wanted him to see that he was not the lover he thought he was, that he needed more of the love of Jesus in his life.
This remarkable detail gives us a glimpse of the love that Jesus has for us. We are not any more lovable than the man who thought he knew how to love. But Jesus still looks at us with a heart of love. He helps us see that we are not the lovers that we think we are, either. But he does not stop there. By his death on the cross he offers forgiveness to our loveless hearts. Then he sends his Holy Spirit so that we can start to love the way that he loves.
We are nothing without love—this is the message of 1 Corinthians 12:1–3. But Jesus does nothing without love—this is the message of Mark 10, and indeed everything else in the whole Bible: It was love that brought Jesus down from heaven to Bethlehem. Love that caused him to perform miracles and preach the gospel. Love that led him through the sufferings of Calvary and the cross. And love that exalted him to glory.
Jesus Christ is the eternal incarnation of the love of God. Therefore, it is with love that he looks at us now—as much love as he had for the man he met in Mark 10.
This article is adapted from Loving the Way Jesus Loves by Phil Ryken.