They say if you love something let it go, and if it comes back then it was meant to be yours.
I say, love doesn't leave.
But I do wonder how many times Jesus wanted to ditch the apostles though? They had to frustrate him, I mean, He is perfect God for heaven sakes.
Peter one minute claiming him the Messiah, and then the next, Jesus calling him Satan.
Thomas constantly doubting everything.
The apostles bickering with each other at the Last Supper over who was the greatest.
They fell asleep during prayer.
They lacked faith.
Peter denied him three times.
They argued in the boat during a storm as Jesus slept.
And let's not even bring up Judas.
But Jesus stayed with them.
Why would the gospel writers include these stories and examples of Jesus' frustration and rebuke? I don't necessarily want it documented when I, in my own life, mess up, display immature faith, argue and disagree with family and friends, fall back asleep during morning devotions or deny I follow Jesus by lacking love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc.
These stories and examples being included in the gospels serve two purposes I believe. First, love is long suffering and patient. In many of the examples above Jesus didn't rebuke or lose his cool. Instead, he taught them a higher mindset, he showed empathy, he extended grace. Second, in these illustrations of the disciples shortcomings, Jesus models that love is a choice - a verb, not a feeling.
I have had experience after experience of relationships ending because I was less than. Some I deserved, some I didn't. Some I created the conflict, some I didn't. Some relationships I chose to leave, some I didn't. I even chose to stop following Jesus for a season of my life. No matter who has come and gone in the myriad of love experiences I have had to date, irregardless of whose choice it was to leave, irrespective of the reasons why, Jesus stayed.
When they were coming to arrest him in the garden, Jesus stayed.
When they were condemning him in the temple, Jesus stayed.
And though he had all power to save himself off that cross, Jesus stayed.
The agony He faced was more than physical; it was spiritual and emotional, as well. Jesus knew that his father's will was to crush Him, to allow Him to be tortured, beaten, humiliated and killed. Jesus dreaded the pain and sorrow He faced. The struggle was intense: Jesus was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, and Luke observed that Jesus was sweating blood—a sign of extreme anguish. But Jesus stayed. He didn't abandon mankind, he stayed.
Tim Keller writes about the night Jesus died:
"If he wouldn’t abandon you then, he won't abandon you now. If he wouldn’t abandon you when Hell itself was coming down on him, if that didn’t separate his love from you do you think you having a bad week is gonna do it? Do you think there is anything that you can do that could destroy his love for you when that couldn’t do it?"
And so we should love others, as he loved us. I mean as far as I can recall, no one has ever asked me to die for them to show my love. Biting our tongue, speaking with kindness, having a gentle spirit in frustration, being patient in times of uncertainty, not bringing up past wrongdoings, not leaving when things get tough are all ways we can make love a verb. Sometime they are the love crosses we have to bear. But also understand this - the nails didn't hold Jesus to that cross, love did.
How can we know we can do it? Because Jesus stayed.