My favorite movie is “Princess Bride.” [Spoiler alert! If you haven’t seen the movie, skip this paragraph!] Westley, the humble farm boy becomes the valiant rescuer of Buttercup, all in the name of “true love.” Even after being brutally killed by the corrupt prince, at least to the point of being “mostly dead” (according to Miracle Max), a chocolate-covered pill brings Westley back to life because “nothing is greater than true love.” When reunited, Westley explains to the surprised Buttercup, “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.” An idealistic, fairytale picture… but what about real life?
Let’s go back two millennia.
There was a vaguely similar scene depicted in John 20. Mary, the woman Jesus had rescued from a life of sin and bondage, was weeping over his death, angry that someone had taken the body of her Lord, too broken to even acknowledge the supernatural nature of the angels in the tomb.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away…”
Then, through her tear-filled eyes, she saw the blurry figure of another man approaching.
“Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
She had gotten up early that morning to come to the tomb. His body had not been properly prepared for the grave and she, spices in hand, desperately wanted the final chance to show her love by honoring him, even in his death. Now, even this attempt seemed to be thwarted.
“Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
She had only heard her name said so lovingly by one person. What a shock that the man she thought to be dead was standing beside her! “Rabboni!” (This means Rabbi or Master.)
Similar scenarios occurred as Jesus appeared to his followers, who had given up their lives for the sake of following him. Then they lost him and their hope died with him. Their own failure to stand beside him to the end weighed heavily on their shoulders. With their expectations shattered, their minds were filled with countless questions, trying to make sense of the situation and wondering what would happen next.
Then to see him again… what greater joy could there be? How many might have said, “I thought you were dead!”
But death did not stop true love. In fact, it was true love that endured death and true love that conquered death. Nothing is greater than true love, the perfect agape love that only the Creator of the universe can and does offer to each of us.
Perhaps there are times when that love seems absent. The grief and loneliness are overwhelming, and you find yourself staring into a dark grave. Maybe you feel defeated, even angry that God seems to have failed to keep his promises.
But someone is calling your name. He knows your heart, your pain. He loves you.
When you turn to Jesus you can encounter his love, which far surpasses any fairy-tale version of “true love.”
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:14).
Are you ready to receive his love at a deeper level? To trust his promise that his death and resurrection have conquered all sin and death, including our own failures? To allow him to come beside you in the midst of pain, confusion, anger, or fear and help carry those burdens?
Open your heart and allow him to fill it with love. Spend time with him, receiving the promises given throughout the Word and asking him to show you the truth he wants you to see.
If you have stories to to tell of times when you’ve felt God’s love or want to share what you’re struggling with now, please feel free to do so below!