March Madness and April Madness

March Madness draws closer to its thrilling conclusion every day.

So goes Lent.

As usual, basketball’s March Madness is as crazy as ever with top seeds bouncing early and ringing endings pounding.

I would like to focus on another March Madness. He is considered mad by the world. I’m talking about the kind of love that Jesus showed people in the Bible, and still today. Only a few people showed her even a hint of that kind of love.

Take the sinful woman in Luke 7. Forgiven of much sin, she loved Jesus so much that she poured a vial of expensive perfume over his head and feet. Some accounts say it could have cost him a year’s salary. But extravagant love does not calculate the cost, as the famous chapter on love reminds us: “Love does not count accounts” (I Corinthians 13:7, Phillips translation).

There is the widow who has put her last pennies into the Temple treasury. For this radical act, Jesus proclaimed that she gave more than all the rich who gave much more. The difference – there was no sacrifice when the rich gave of their abundance, “But she out of her poverty gave all that she had” (Mark 12:41-44). “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

Then Jesus himself showed “the full extent of his love” when he washed the feet of his disciples. None of these twelve wanted to take on this dirty job usually reserved for the youngest slave. But Jesus did this dirty deed, then said to all his disciples, “Now that I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you must wash each other’s feet.” I have given you an example to do as I have done for you” (John 13:1, 14-15).

Scholars debate what Jesus meant when he said he was going to show them “the full extent of his love.” I believe he meant the full range of love, from foot washing to washing away the sins of those who receive it (John 1:11-12).

Long before April Fool’s Day was invented, many called Jesus’ death on the cross “madness, defeat, and folly”: “…but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block for the Jews and madness for the Gentiles, but for those whom God has called… Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).

The death of Jesus on the cross was a real victory. Through the cross and resurrection, he overcame the sin and death (separation from God) that we deserve. Jesus offers this same victory, true life, abundant and eternal, to all who RECEIVE and BIND HIM with love (John 1:12; 3:16; 10:10; 11:25).

Did you really receive it? Are you now in a love relationship? Jesus clarified the real life here: “Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25).

Can you believe that Jesus loves you with that kind of crazy love? Why not celebrate March Madness and April Fool’s Day together by showing Jesus and a few people some mad love.

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