Steve Macchia Blog

Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Twenty Four, Tuesday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Luke 7: 36-50

One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to a dinner party. He accepted and ate with Simon the Pharisee, and with all the guests who were assembled. A woman who had “lived a sinful life” in that town was also present, and she brought with her an alabaster jar of perfume. She poured out that perfume onto Jesus’ feet, and as she was weeping, she wet his feet with her tears, kissing and wiping them with her hair.

When Simon saw this unusual display of affection, he thought, “If this man wee a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.” Knowing his thoughts, Jesus answered,  “Simon, I have something to tell you” and then proceeded to use a story to expose the truth. It was about two men owing money to a lender, one owing a large sum of five hundred denarii and the other owing fifty. As the lender cancels the debts of both, Jesus asks him, “Who would love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt.”

Simon answered the question correctly but missed the whole point. Obviously, the woman at Jesus’ feet loved him more because her many sins were forgiven. Grace was freely extended to the One who extended grace to her. In contrast, there weren’t even the customary expressions of grace extended to Jesus when he entered Simon’s home: water to wash his feet; a kiss on the cheek to welcome his guest; or oil on his head to bless his coming. But the woman hasn’t stopped kissing Jesus’ feet.

The woman’s many sins were forgiven graciously and generously by Jesus. The Pharisee continued to sin by hardening his heart to the love of Jesus and is the one who “has been forgiven little because he loves little.” But to the woman, her sins were forgiven and her faith saved her, so she was granted peace.

To love little was never a part of Jesus’ life or service to others. His love was granted overtly and with nothing shy of generosity. Jesus lavished love through the gift of grace. Grace was extended to all, but not all who heard him received his grace. He always offered and never withheld it, no matter what.  Divine grace forgives sin, regenerates the heart, and sanctifies the life of those who receive this transforming and totally undeserved gift. God’s outstretched arms of love offer rich, unmerited favor, granted to sinners and saints alike, and always full of blessings to those who believe.

As a recipient of God’s grace, what is your response to Jesus, the Author of Divine Grace? How will your gratitude to God for the free gift of his grace affect how you extend grace to another? Love large and not little, dear friend!  Behold Jesus generously granting grace; believe once more the transformational power of grace; belong to the company of grace recipients; and become a person of grace to all.



Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Twenty Three, Monday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read John 8: 1-11

“If anyone is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” This was Jesus’ incredible response to the Pharisees who brought the woman caught in adultery to him. They paraded her in front of a group of bystanders and tried to trap Jesus with their theology examination. “In the law of Moses, we are commanded to stone such women. What do you say?” One can only imagine how they stood there with their arms folded, a snarky pose of bullying on their part – to both the woman and Jesus.

Instead of replying to their intimidation, Jesus merely bent down and began writing something in the sand with his fingers. We don’t know what he wrote, but he used this response to their continual inquisition. In between two recorded instances of Jesus stooping down to the ground and writing in the dirt he invites whoever is without sin to stone the sinful woman. Slowly the crowd dissipates, one person at a time. The elders left first, followed by the others, leaving only Jesus with the woman.

He asked her, “Where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” She replied with a simple, “No one, sir.” “Then neither do I condemn you…go now and leave your life of sin,” Jesus declared. And with that simple word of forgiveness she is released of her sin by the Savior of the world. With his outstretched arms of love, Jesus generously extends forgiveness to one in need.

What is it about Jesus’ repeated offer of forgiveness, without any need for remuneration beyond the acknowledgement of sin? No shame or guilt, no punishment or recourse. Simply the recognition of one’s ways and ascent to the wrongdoing, and Jesus covers the rest. Each time he pardons the sinner he is upsetting the system of justice. The Pharisees were self-declared watchdogs of the Law, and they were committed to bring punitive damage to all who would step outside the Law. So, to make the woman caught in adultery stand before her peers was nothing short of public ridicule…but to them, it was necessary recompense.

Jesus associated with sinners. This was in keeping with his mission and ministry. To those who would repent of their sin, he offered the free gift of forgiveness. To repent is to feel or express regret or remorse for one’s actions, to simply acknowledge the truth about oneself even and especially when one has done something counter to the will of God. It’s turning around to the true heart, no more cover-up.

What is your attitude toward a known sinner? What is your attitude toward your own known sin? Without casting a single stone, receive instead the forgiveness of Jesus and be set free. Behold the One who came to reset the Law and the Prophets with the Gospel of loving forgiveness; believe in the truth that will always set you free; belong to the community of the forgiven; become a forgiving lover too.



Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Twenty Two, Saturday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Matthew 25: 14-30

The Parable of the Talents is also a Kingdom parable, designed to portray those who understand God’s desire for our fruitfulness in life. Those who think they know more about God than they truly do, end up missing out on the greatest of all gift of eternal life. The contrast is stark and the outcome is either blessed or bleak depending on where one lands in stewarding talents received and assigned by God.

The story is about a man who before heading out on a long journey calls his servants together, and entrusts his property to them while he’s away. To one he gave five talents, to another he gave two talents, and to the third he gives one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The one with five talents put his money to work and gains five more. The one with two talents did likewise and gains two more. But the one with one talent dug a hole and buried his master’s money.

After a long time had passed, the master of those servants came home and settled accounts with them. The man with the five talents brought those back and five more. The one with two did likewise and presented to the master two more. Both men’s stewardship pleased the King, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.” However, the one with one talent simply brought that one talent back, thinking the master was a hard man, harvesting where he did not sow and gathering where he did not scatter seed. The talent was taken from him and given to those who had more.

That “worthless servant” was then thrown outside into the darkness, where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. This harsh punishment was brought upon by his bizarre rationale and illogical conclusions. His choices kept him out of the Kingdom. But, the reality of the Kingdom is that it won’t be for everyone. Some will choose to say yes to God’s invitation, initiation, and intention, while others will simply reject God and his ways. Therefore, everything we have has come from and belongs to God, and is to be stewarded with generosity, shared for the glory of God and offered as a blessing to others.

How well are you stewarding all you’ve been entrusted to for God’s glory? Is there a portion of your talents you’re hiding from the Father’s heart? We all long to someday hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” as we’re ushered into God’s Kingdom forever.  In the meantime, it’s best to steward and multiply that which we’ve been entrusted to care for in this life.

Today, openly receive all that God’s outstretched arms of love offers. Behold the generosity of Jesus; believe that you are richly blessed to be a blessing; belong to all good and faithful stewards; and become a servant who desires nothing more than to please the Master forever.



Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Twenty One, Friday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Matthew 13: 31-33; 44-46

The parables of the mustard seed, the yeast, the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price are all about the kingdom of heaven.  The mustard seed, even though it’s the smallest of all seeds, when planted in the field it grows to be the largest of garden plants, becoming a tree for the birds of the air to perch in its branches. The yeast, when mixed into a large amount of flour, is worked into the dough for the rising of delicious bread. Both the mustard seed and the yeast are explosive in value to that which it impacts.  So is the message of the gospel in comparison to any other human philosophy.

The hidden treasure found in a field brings about joy to the land owner. When the merchant discovers fine pearls of great value, he sells everything else he has in order to buy one. Small and insignificant, but larger than life in the kingdom of heaven, each of these metaphors depict the impact of the kingdom Jesus ushers in with glory and delight. The treasure and pearls describe the inestimable value of the kingdom, worth giving up everything else to acquire. The treasure is eternal life found only through salvation in Jesus Christ; the pearl is the love of Christ, when discovered there’s no need to keep looking for any other substitute. In every parable, Jesus is offering his outstretched arms of love.

These four parables are exquisitely spoken by Jesus, and packed with powerful truths. It’s amazing to notice how the gospel of Jesus Christ changes everything, just like seeds and yeast transform their environments. And, the gospel of the Kingdom of heaven is a treasure beyond comparison, with the pearl of great price being nothing else but the fullness of being known and loved by God in Christ.

With the luxury of insight from hindsight, we can look back and around these stories being heard and received for the first time. Jesus enters the scene and uses the term Kingdom of heaven, but it’s articulated in a brand new way. Over and over again, Jesus uses one metaphor or comparison or parable after another. His hope is that eventually his followers, especially his closest disciples, will finally “get it” and see once and for all that he is the King of this Kingdom then, now, and for all eternity.

When you hear the phrase ‘kingdom of heaven’ can you grasp it in your heart and mind? How well do you understand that not only are we to experience kingdom living here on earth, but we also await the fullest consummation of the kingdom with Jesus’ second coming and our eternal glory? Kingdom of heaven is both already (here) and not yet (glory), so it’s totally understandable why the disciples would be confused. It’s a hard one to grasp! That’s why we must behold Jesus coming to establish his kingdom; believe in his eternal kingdom; belong to his kingdom circle; and become a kingdom builder.



Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Twenty, Thursday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Luke 15: 11-32

Once described as the” forever parable” because it never runs out of deep meaning, the parable of the lost son is filled with eternal significance. The story is about a man who had two sons. The younger son came to the father requesting his share of the estate. So the father divided his property between them. The younger son took off for a distant land, where he squandered his full inheritance on wild living. When a severe famine came to that country he began to be in need. So, he hired himself out to a person who sent him to feed pigs.  His stomach was aching for food, and he became desperate.

When he came to his senses, he realized the stupidity of his ways. He set out to go back home to his father and admit his sin, relinquish his status as his son, and offer himself as one of his dad’s hired hands. But, while he was still a long way from home, his father saw him on route and because he was filled with compassion he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Rejoicing greatly, the father called his servants to come with the best robe, a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. They killed the fattened calf, had a feast and celebrated his homecoming.

Meanwhile, the older son was working in the field. When he caught wind of what had transpired, he was livid. The sound of music and dancing made him enraged and he refused to participate in the party. He told his father how disappointed he was in the treatment of his once lost brother, now safe at home. The father reminded the elder son of his forever presence with him, the safe protection of his inheritance, and pleaded with him to celebrate and be glad that his brother was home.

In this parable Jesus is emphasizing the gift of forgiving grace. The emphasis is on the extravagant, prodigal love the Father has for both of his sons, the wayward and the righteous. The portrayal of the father running to greet the lost son is a powerful image of the initiation of God. He’s got his eyes peeled on us 24/7, never turning or walking away. Whether bidden or not bidden, he is always present.  He stands on the porch of heaven and traverses the landscape watching, waiting and wondering when the lost will come to his senses and turn back home.

The reality of God the initiator is a life-changer. When we come to our senses and turn back home to our heavenly Father we can ALWAYS count on his outstretched arm s of love to greet us. Always. The Triune God has an infatuation for us that never stops, never ends, never stalls, never fails. He awaits our glance homeward and then he outraces us with gifts of grace, forgiveness, and peace. Behold Jesus locking eyes with yours; believe you are deserving of his unconditional love; belong to the fellowship of the strident wayward and the penitent homeward; and become a lover to the lost in Jesus name.



Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Nineteen, Wednesday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Matthew 7: 24-29

This parable comes after Jesus has so eloquently delivered the magnificent Sermon on the Mount, which included the Beatitudes, and teachings on subjects such as being salt and light, fulfilling the law by practicing the commandments against murder, adultery, divorce, as well as reminders about how to love our enemies, give to the needy, fasting, praying, and not storing up treasures, worrying, or judging others.  The parable of the house on the rock is the PS provided by Jesus, which wraps up his prior teachings with an admonition to remain firmly planted on the solid ground of faithfulness.

It’s a very straight forward parable: everyone who has heard Jesus’ teaching and puts these into practice is like a wise man who built his house on a rock solid foundation. When the inevitable rain comes down and the streams of water rise and the winds blow and beat mercilessly against the sides of the house, it withstands the bad weather without a problem. However, for those who have heard Jesus’ teaching and choose not to put them into practice, are like a foolish person, who builds his house on a flimsy, sandy foundation. When the rains come, streams rise, winds blow and beat against the house, the house falls with a great crash.  This story and all previous and subsequent teachings of Jesus amazed the crowds.

Did their amazement at the profundity of Jesus’ teaching lead them toward a faithful response? The crowds were drop-jawed with awe in his presence, especially the beauty of the Mount of Beatitudes, overlooking the Sea of Galilee. However, their mountain top experience would be short lived, even though many would subsequently be healed of their diseases and released of their captivities. They would follow him for many more miles, as Jesus continually opened his outstretched arms of love toward them. But, we also know the “rest of the story” – they would ultimately abandon to a tortuous death the very Teacher who introduced to them the abundance of life with God.

Wisdom or foolishness, that is their clear choice. Wisdom is the ability to judge a situation correctly by gathering information and understanding, and then to follow through with appropriate action. It’s more than simply following the rules; it’s instead the creation of a pathway that leads to the fullness of life. The way of wisdom directs one toward the teachings and corresponding lifestyle choices that honor and please God. For Jesus, he was able to summarize so much of God’s teachings in this powerful Sermon on the Mount.  This sermon was delivered with outstretched arms of love.

What is your response to the invitation of Jesus to walk the pathway of wisdom, as opposed to making foolish decisions that lead you off course? You may wish to ponder anew the Sermon on the Mount. Behold Jesus the Teacher; believe the Truth he wisely presents; belong to those who are amazed at his wisdom; and become wise in your Jesus foundation and in the pathway you are following him today.



Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Eighteen, Tuesday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Luke 10: 25-37

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is follow-up to a conversation Jesus was having with an “expert” of the law, one of those leader types who were know-it-alls during the time of Christ. The “expert” is asking Jesus to defend two questions: What must I do to inherit eternal life? And, who is my neighbor?  The first question is about the message of Jesus and the second probes the mission and ministry of Jesus.

To the first question, Jesus replies by affirming the “experts” own answer to the question by his stating the greatest and second greatest commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” But, to the second question, Jesus backs him up against a wall of conviction with his parable.

The parable is pretty simple. It’s about a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he is stopped in his tracks by a band of robbers. They strip him of his clothing, beat him, and then leave him half dead in the middle of the road. Then, there are three individuals who come upon the stricken man in the road and are confronted with a choice: do I help him or leave him to die? First, a priest happens upon him, but he passes by and walks around on the other side of the road. Secondly, a Levite comes toward him, and after seeing him lying in the road, also passes him on the opposite side of the road.

A third traveler, this time a Samaritan (often hated by the Jews, who would bristle at one being portrayed in a positive light), comes upon the man and took pity on him. He bandages his wounds, puts him on his donkey, takes him to an inn, pays for his care, leaves him in good hands, and even follows up on his needs during his return trip home. So, when Jesus asks the know-it-all to acknowledge which character in the story most depicts a loving neighbor, he’s forced to answer “the one who had mercy.”

Mercy is the big idea in this parable. Jesus is filled with mercy. The Samaritan is filled with mercy.  All who love the Lord with heart, soul, strength and mind are to be filled with mercy toward their neighbor. Jesus’ outstretched arms of love are demonstrated through the gift of mercy.  Mercy’s best descriptors are compassion, kindness, forgiveness, forbearance, favor, charity and blessing. Mercy is most extended toward those who don’t deserve it, but who are in desperate need of it.  To be merciful is to be willing to extend an embrace of love even when it’s inconvenient to do so.

To love God is to love mercy. For when we were most desperate we received mercy. Behold God’s merciful kindness; believe the transformational gospel of mercy; belong to those who are willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of mercy; and become a Jesus-follower who’s a repository of mercy.



Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Seventeen, Monday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Luke 8: 1-15

Jesus often taught in parables, simple and memorable stories with heartfelt and eternal significance. They were offered to his disciples and followers in earshot of his teaching with an earnest desire for their soul’s welfare here on earth and for all eternity. They were gifts of Jesus, yet another form of his outstretched arms of love, for all who were invited to consider the Kingdom of God both present in Christ in the here and now, and yet to come as we await the ultimate summons to heaven.

The parable of the sower is a story about a farmer who plentifully and extravagantly sowed seed indiscriminately on all soils within his reach. Some of the seed fell along an open pathway, where it was trampled upon by passersby and plucked off by birds of the air that flew in to consume it. Some of the seed was strewn upon rocky soil, so that when it birthed any form of life from within the crevices of rock it came up but soon withered, void of much needed moisture. Still other seed was cast among thorns and thistles along the ground, which awaited any form of growth to then squelch and choke to death.

But, some of the seed actually fell along very good soil. These seeds were welcomed by the rich humus of life-giving nutrition. The good soil was well prepared for the seeds arrival, with plenty of moisture to go around, no rocks or weeds in the way of growth, and ample space to be received and effectuated for life. To the seeds, this was a place of absolute delight.

This parable is all about the soil’s receptivity of the seed, strewn generously by the Sower. What Jesus is reminding his hearers about is the openness (or lack thereof) of hearts prepared to receive the gospel of the Kingdom of heaven. Jesus himself, the living Word, has been presented without judgment to the entirety of the world. But, the world he blessed with his presence is filled with disparate forms of receptivity about his coming. Many (soils) would reject his love; some (good soil) would receive him.

Along the path: hearts are stolen by the devil; on the rocks: not much room for his abiding presence; in the weeds: worrisome, pursuing riches and pleasures instead of God ; but in good soil: noble hearts, persevering and fruitful. With what soil does your soul most resonate today? Are you being stomped upon by the enemy of your soul, or not leaving much space for Jesus to penetrate the recesses of your soul, or are the enticements of this world so all-consuming that you have forgotten to prioritize Jesus?

May the soil of your soul be filled up with the seed of the Sower, so that by receiving the fullness of his outstretched arms of love you are changed from the inside out. Behold his presence; believe his Word; belong to his Kingdom; and become his “junior sower” seeding your world with the love of Jesus.



Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Sixteen, Saturday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Matthew 10: 6-8; 16: 24-25; 25: 34-40; 28: 18-20

Beginning with his incarnation, Jesus was very clear about his mission. His coming was to serve, not to be served, and to give his life as a ransom for many. He came to be the Good Shepherd who would eternally give his life for his sheep. And, returning from the 40-day wilderness trial, he entered the sanctuary and opened the scroll to announce the fulfillment of the prophetic word of Isaiah. He is the Messiah, anointed by the Spirit to proclaim good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, set the oppressed free, and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

The gospel of Matthew is loaded with passages that invite Jesus’ disciples to embrace his mission to this world. His days on earth were crammed with multiple ways of living that mission, demonstrating it to a watching world, as well as instructing and empowering his disciples to embrace it for themselves. The mission of Jesus was to become the mission of his disciples. As they were sent to the lost sheep of Israel, they were urged to proclaim one central message, “The kingdom of heaven has come near” in Jesus.

Jesus asked his disciples to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him. Such a following would include the same kind of ministry Jesus modeled before them. This included feeding the hungry and thirsty, practicing hospitality to the stranger, clothing the naked, looking after the sick, visiting the prisoner, freeing the oppressed, and driving out demons. Since they had freely received such tender mercy and salvation from God, they were to freely give that kind of ministry away to others.

With open, outstretched arms of love, Jesus held important commandments out before them, beginning with the first and greatest: to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength. The second greatest: to love their neighbor as themselves. And, the ongoing commission for them to go and make disciples of every nation, baptizing them and teaching them to obey all of Jesus’ life-transforming principles.

It’s fascinating to note that the mission of Jesus is always to the outcast, the oppressed, and the overlooked in society. He passed on this legacy to his disciples then and now. What Jesus desired of his followers was for them to be so filled up with the heart and mind and life of God that they would “overflow” such loveable righteousness and devoted faithfulness to all who would cross their path. Will you say yes to that same invitation today?

Behold Jesus fulfilling his promised mission and inviting his disciples to do the same; believe in the importance of reaching out lovingly to the poor, the prisoner, the blind, and the oppressed; belong to the lineage of faithful Christ-followers who deny themselves for the sake of others; and become a disciple who is so filled up with the ways of God that you indiscriminately overflow his love to all.



Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Fifteen, Friday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read John 17

The disciples knew that Jesus loved them, from the moment they were invited into the inner circle as followers and friends, all throughout their years together, and most especially as the time drew near for Jesus to leave them and return to his Father in heaven.  His “farewell discourse” recorded for us in John 14-17 reveals so much of Jesus’ affection for his disciples. All of these words were spoken on the heels of his demonstration of the “fullest extent of his love” for them by washing their feet.

He urges them not to let their hearts become troubled, but to trust in God. He prepares them for his departure, sharing that he is the way and the truth and the life, the only way to the Father. He promises to send them “another Counselor” who will be with them forever, the Holy Spirit of truth and love. He reminds them they are his friends, and promises them that their grief will turn to joy when he’s gone.

As he is concluding these remarks, he turns to the Father in prayer. In John 17, Jesus is praying for his own relationship with the Father, noting that he came to earth to complete the work of glorifying the Father throughout the world. Then, he prays for his immediate disciples, for the Father to protect them by the power of his name, so that they may be one. He also prays that his disciples would have the full measure of Jesus’ joy within them. And, that the Father would sanctify them by the truth of the Word.

What follows in verses 20-26 is Jesus’ prayer for those who would follow him in future generations, including our own. For those he prays for God’s glory to be revealed and released through their unity and oneness, “I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” The focus of Jesus’ heart prayer for disciples of every generation is complete unity, without which the world will never know why Jesus was sent by the Father to earth as the greatest of all expressions of love.

In Jesus’ great high priestly prayer of John 17, his outstretched arms of love embrace us all. No disciple of any millennia since the time of Christ is excluded.  In this prayer, Jesus and his Father, along with the Spirit, are praying for all who follow him and claim his name as believers. As we are united as one in Christ, we reveal the glory of God in this watching and waiting, often wounded and skeptical, world. Only as we are one will the world fully know the gospel of peace, joy and love.

Will you join Jesus in fulfilling his prayerful longing for our generation? Will you participate in building unity among all who call themselves Christian? Behold Jesus blessing his disciples in their community oneness; believe in the priority of unity today; belong to those who choose to be reconcilers and peace makers; become a Christ-follower who desires to see God’s glory revealed and released even today.