God Loves Us
More, he acted as if it was true, not only for him, but for everyone. True not just of him, but of anyone. Jesus was special, not because he believed that he was God's beloved - someone whom God valued, honoured, loved and approved of - but because he believed this was true of everyone.
But was it true in all circumstances? Was it true in places of difficulty and hardship? Was it true not just in the garden, but also in the desert? This was what he went into the wilderness to discover. And he discovered that it was true there, too. God loves, and where God loves, God gives abundance. The wild beasts did not harm him. The angels ministered to him.
And so Jesus emerged from the wilderness to preach this Gospel: "God loves you" but "God receives you", "God values you," "God welcomes you," "God embraces you," "God honours you." Where God loves, God gives abundant life. You are - We are - all of us are - the heirs of abundant life.
Jesus says: "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." The invitation reminds us we are seen, heard, known and loved. And that someone who loves us wants an opportunity to appreciate us. To listen to us. To pay attention to us. To give to us. To honour us.
To withdraw with Jesus is to be in the presence of one who knows us: who knows us through and through; better than we know ourselves; better than we want to know ourselves sometimes. It is to be with someone who knows our needs before we ask, who is so attuned to us that they anticipate how we feel, they understand how we view the world, they never judge us for thinking as we do, and while they might disagree with us, or even be disappointed at the choices we make, they never criticise or condemn. Here we are known for who we are: the best and the worst of us is known: and yet we are loved.
The best and the worst of us is out in the open. And yet we are loved. The One who truly knows us, loves us with a loyalty that never wavers. Loves us with a passion that is rich and warm, intimate and detailed, yet also more vast than we can begin to imagine. This is the miracle and the mercy. That knowing us as we truly are, Jesus loves us. That knowing not only the best but also the worst of us, Jesus loves us. That knowing me as I am, Jesus loves me. And in Jesus, God loves me. GOD loves me. God LOVES me. God loves ME.