[Editor’s note: Today’s post is an excerpt from the book “Jesus Loves You This I Know” by Craig Gross and Jason Harper]

Summed up, Jesus modeled a life of love. Beyond teacher, rabbi, carpenter, and/or mystic, Jesus proclaimed a radical message of hope and love that was His singular cause of death. The religious order was irate that he emerged as a leader to common people.

Jesus understood that we are all broken and filled with missed moments in life that created great guilt. In an attempt to free humanity from rules and regulations, Jesus ticked religious people off. He neutralized the hold of their clinched fist of power.

He spoke of love.

He offered hope.

He gave affirmation and understanding.

He created community.

He spoke of and demanded an absolute inclusion of love for people with issues and doubts.

This message of inclusion went far beyond any other world religious leader’s message when he deemed that he had the ability to make right what was wrong. He had the power to disrupt the woes of a confused and skeptical humanity.

Many people have not heard or read any of the statements that Jesus truly made. I am amazed when I talk to skeptics how many of not truly investigated his claims. I’ve asked those that doubt Jesus where their issue lands and so many times it’s not with him at all. It has been with rules that have replaced relationship. The issue has been with interpretation of scripture, not the investigation of a Savior.

For the skeptic who is tired, Jesus said, “Come to me if you are tired, I will give you rest.”

For the skeptic who has been judged by the religious, Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, nor does my Father who is heaven.”

For the skeptic who has been alone and lost in their over-analyzed thoughts, Jesus said, “I am the way.”

For the skeptic who has been ripped off, lied to and taken advantage of, Jesus said, “I am the truth.”

For the skeptic who has believed Jesus was a narcissistic tyrant, he said, “I came to serve you.”

Amazing, a man with this message could be so misrepresented and misunderstood.

After some long walks, reflections, runs, and journal entries, I came to the conclusion that, though I had chosen accept God, I had not fully embraced the simplest of statements: Jesus loves me.