Maxwell Maltz tells the story of a man who’d been severely injured while attempting to rescue his parents from a fire. His heroic efforts proved to be in vain, though. His mom and dad died in the burning house.
During his rescue attempt the fire had scorched his face and disfigured it. He was so ashamed of his appearance after that he refused to allow anyone—including his wife—to see his face.
For help, she went to Maltz, a plastic surgeon. “Not to worry,” he assured her, “I can restore his face.”
Despite the good news, the wife still felt disheartened. Her husband had always refused any medical treatment. Assuming he wouldn’t change his mind, she said to Maltz, “I want you to disfigure my face so I can be like him! If I can share in his pain, then maybe he will let me back into his life.”
Maltz tried to mask his horror at the request. He refused to perform the operation, but was so moved by this woman’s love for her husband that he went to visit her husband. Through a closed door, he yelled, “I’m a plastic surgeon. I want you to know that I can restore your face.”
“Please, won’t you come out? At least let me see your face. At least talk to me.”
Still speaking through a door, Maltz told the man of his wife’s request. “She wants me to mutilate her face in order to make her face like yours. She hopes that you will then let her back into your life. That’s how much she loves you.”
Ever so slowly the doorknob turned. 1
The woman’s love toward her husband mirrors the love that God feels toward us—the kind of love that God calls us to model toward each other. Jesus said, “I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. And here is how to measure it—the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends” (John 15:12, 13, NLT).
Jesus took on our face, our disfigurement. There was no place he wouldn’t go in order to reach us. He went to a hay trough, homes of ill-repute and a bloody cross. The love He modeled had no limits. He did this in order to afford us the treatment that he deserves. Ellen G. White describes it this way: “Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. ‘With His stripes we are healed.’” 2
Doesn’t that kind of love make you want to respond? Don’t you want to spread that kind of love to others? Jesus stands at the door of your heart and says, “Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends” (Revelation 3:20, NLT).
Won’t you let Him in? And won’t you let Him out?
1 Maxie Dunnam, This is Christianity (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994), pp. 60-61.
2 Ellen G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 25.