We make a big deal about telling someone, “I love you.”
Those three short words can spark lifelong bonds, and tear others apart.
They can heal gaping wounds, and spark endless conflicts.
A simple “I love you” gives us courage and strength as easily as it terrifies and brings us to our knees.
To hear it can leave us speechless… or enrage us beyond control.
One could argue they are the most powerful words in any language.
But at least one powerful person never said, “I love you.”
Which is weird because love is kind of his thing.
He demands love from us and professes to love us all.
John (3:16) says God loved the world so much, he sent his only son to save us.
Jesus eventually died for us, to save us from our justifiable damnation.
As John explains, there is no greater love than to lay down your life for another. (John 15:17)
But Jesus never uttered the words, “I love you.”
During his journey among us, Jesus preached and displayed love.
He reached out to the afflicted and eased their suffering.
Surely Jesus loved the lepers, the blind men, and the bleeding woman who reached out to him.
But he always credited their faith for the relief, never uttering a word about love.
The apostles sometimes became aggravated by the constant pace of followers, but Jesus always showed love.
When mothers brought their children to a tired messiah, and were rebuked by disciples, Jesus interceded.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Mat 19:14)
But he didn´t say he loved them.
Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee in search of respite.
But he put aside his exhaustion to preach to the masses he found waiting there.
Mark (6:34) tells us he felt deep concern for the people, who were like sheep without a shepherd.
But there is no mention he told the people, “I love you.”
Mark tells us Jesus loved even those who would not be saved, like the rich man who wanted to see Heaven.
“Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said…” (Mark 10:21)
The Lord gave the man a path to salvation although he knew the man was too weak to follow it.
He lamented the man´s fate, explaining to the others how hard it is for some to find eternal life (Mark 10:17-31).
Jesus expressed sadness, but never told the rich man, “I love you.”
When he defended the woman accused of adultery, Jesus showed love.
When he forgave the Samarian woman at the well, Jesus showed love.
When he showed mercy to Martha and her sister by giving Lazarus new life, Jesus showed love.
When he produced more wine to save the groom from embarrassment, Jesus showed love.
But he never professed his love to any of them.
Toward the end of his story, the Bible tells us we were loved.
John (13:1) says of Jesus: “…having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”
And Jesus knew the apostles understood love.
It was then he chose to command that we love one another, just like he loved us. (John 13:34)
Ease suffering where we can.
Be tolerant even while those around us are not.
Share the Word even if we´re tired.
Offer hope even in despair.
Defend even those who appear defenseless.
Forgive those who need forgiveness.
Show mercy and love however we can.
And maybe we can bring an extra bottle of wine to weddings.
John ends his gospel by explaining why all of Jesus´ words and actions can´t fit in one book. (John 21:25)
Maybe Jesus said the words on occasion.
But when God empowered the chosen to write the scriptures, not one mentioned it.
And that, in and of itself, is his message.
To be Christ-like, to follow Jesus´ command, means more than uttering the words.
"Love One Another" is a call to action.