‘Zeal for Your house consumes Me; the insults of those who blaspheme You have fallen on Me… Scorn has broken My heart and left Me helpless’ (PS 69: 9, 20).
Zeal consumed Jesus, ate Him up, killed Him.
His ‘ardent enthusiasm’ (a good definition of ‘zeal’) for the Father’s will and house is best expressed another way. Zeal for you consumed Him.
No-one else cared enough for your relation with the Father to die for you. No-one else died for your worst enemies, be they Donald Trump or Stormy Daniels or Kim Jong Un, FOX News or CNN. Only One was consumed for the salvation of the whole world.
Only One burned with such pure love for each person that He died. Good Friday establishes the fact that nothing need separate us from the Father’s love, even (especially) our enemies. He died for them as surely as He died for you. As you kneel before the Cross today, make sure you have an empty kneeler next to you. Jesus asks you to invite your worst enemy there.
Of course we can choose not to kneel. We can stay drugged up by whatever keeps us running. He burns with zeal anyway, for all of us, patiently.
Today is His day to show His zeal for all, beginning with us then through us to all persons. He was consumed with fire in order to burn off shame and guilt and fear and immoral judgments. He blazes to burn up all barriers that separate us from the Father’s love. He blazes to love us. Will you welcome His love for you afresh?
Consumed by love, Jesus died to release love—water to dissolve sin, blood to give us divine life (JN 19:34). How can we not help but love people better, with greater zeal? Good Friday makes the way.
‘Zeal is never static…zeal is dynamic; if zeal is not greater all the time, it is not zeal. Each day it should eat up more of us, so that there is less and less of us. “I must decrease that He might increase” (JN 3:30).’ Mother Mary Francis
‘Zeal for Your house consumes me.’ (PS 69:9; JN 2:17)
During our forty days of ‘Pierced for the Bride’, we shall ‘fast’ lesser loves in order to know Him more. But in this case, intimacy with Jesus is unto a particular end. We will ask Him for His heart for His house, the Church. We avail ourselves to the Bridegroom to receive His affection for the Bride.
The truth is: we are His bride. Yet we often fail to recognize who we are as the communal object of His deepest desire. In turn, we often fail to behold in our fellow Christians the gracious, fragrant presence of Jesus. We need Jesus to awaken in us His love for the Church.
Even in our brokenness, we have not ceased to be beautiful in His eyes. In truth we betray Him over and over in His body. Yet He hopes and endures and bears all things for us; how can we not ask Him to help us persevere in love for one another (I COR 13:7)? It is all too easy to split the perfect Jesus from His scandalous Church. May it never be! Let us instead collaborate with the Bridegroom and seek to become humble and strategic lovers of the Bride.
I want to say when I see Him face-to-face: ‘I loved her whom You love most, and have done what I could to prepare her for Yourself.’ Practically, that means we shall pray for our churches and regions, and in particular for various ministries like local Living Waters groups that aim to help the Church restore broken ones. Set free by the Bride, we in turn become her champions, devotees of the Bride who hunger and thirst for her righteousness.
Hunger we must. If the Church fails to arise into the glorious healing community of Jesus’ design—mighty in truth and grace—then the multitudes crying out for God in their distress will not be saved. We are Jesus’ saving arm!
Let us hunger for what the Church can be, and with all we possess answer Jesus’ prayer when He implored the Father: ‘I have given them the glory that You have given Me that they may be one as We are one: I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me…’ (JN 17: 22, 23)