(based on a sermon series by Tom Ellsworth)
SERIES: “DISCOVER JESUS: The Other 3:16’s)
TEXT: 1 JOHN 3:11-18
TITLE: “THE LOVE OF JESUS”
OPEN: A. Today is a very exciting day
1. Last Sunday, we began our 10 Week Spiritual Adventure
a. I pray that you have been encouraged and uplifted in that adventure and that Satan’s attempts
to derail you in this quest have been unsuccessful
b. Even if he has been successful, this is a 10 Week challenge
--As the old song says: “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again”
c. We don’t do these spiritual disciplines to be saved
--We do them because we are saved and seek to honor Jesus Christ and grow to be more like
2. We also start a new journey in our Sunday morning worship
a. After discussion with the eldership and much prayer, I’ve chosen a theme for our worship
--“2008: Days of Discovery”
b. The themes for worship and study on Sunday mornings will all have the main thrust of
discovering something that will cause us to grow deeper in our relationships with Christ and
with each other
B. This morning we start the sermon series: “Discovering Jesus: The Other 3:16’s”
1. I’m sure that every one of us is familiar with John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he
gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
2. That’s a very important message
--it sums up what God was doing through His Son
3. But there are some other 3:16 passages that teach us about Jesus
--We’ll be looking at each one of these passages over the next several weeks
a. Lk. 3:16 – The Power of Jesus
b, Acts 3:16 – The Name of Jesus
c. Col. 3:16 – The Encouragement of Jesus
d. 1 Tim. 3:16 – The Uniqueness of Jesus
e. Rev. 3:16 – The Challenge of Jesus
4. This morning we start with a close cousin to John 3:16
a. 1 John 3:16 – “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And
we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”
b. It teaches us about the love of Jesus
C. You might not recall the name Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme but she is famous. Or better yet, she
is infamous. On Sept, 5, 1977, she pushed her way through a crowd in Sacramento, CA and
pointed a .45 caliber pistol at then President of the United States Gerald Ford. Secret Service
agents quickly subdued her. She had been a follower of Charles Manson and was one of the few
who were not involved or at least were never implicated in the killing sprees that sent Manson and
several of his followers to prison.
Fromme’s childhood was tragic. Her father was distant and cold and she always felt like a
misfit in her hometown. She became involved in drugs and alcohol. She left home while still a
teenager just out of high school and wandered around California until she met Manson who
promised that he’d take care of her. She went with him and was willing to kill or die for him.
Reporters wanted to know, “why would you give your life to a man like Charles Manson?” She
explained that she had made a choice early in here teenage years. Here it is: “Whoever loves me
first can have my life.”
1. Love is something that we all desire
--No matter how much money we have, how many possessions we own, how much prestige
have, or how much power we wield, we still desire to be loved
2. So many people are looking for love in all the wrong places
--Waylon Jennings wrote the words to a country song by that name. Listen to the words of the
I was looking for love in all the wrong places
Looking for love in too many faces
Searching your eyes, looking for traces
Of what.. I’m dreaming of...
Hopin’ to find a friend and a lover
God bless the day I discover
Another heart, lookin’ for love
3. I think those words sum up the search by so many to fill their need for love with the wrong
things found in the wrong places
4. How do we know what true love is and where to find it?
--We look to Jesus. He exemplifies everything we need to know about love
5. To understand Jesus’ love, we have to look at 1 Jn. 3:16 in context
--1 Jn. 3:11-18 – “This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one
another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And
why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.
Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from
death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.
Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in
him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought
to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother
in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not
love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”
I. THE EXPLANATION OF LOVE
A. In one of the “Peanuts” comic strips, Lucy looks at Schroeder and says, “Guess what? If you don’t tell
me that you love me, you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to hold my breath until I pass out!”
Schroeder looks up from his piano and replies, “Breath-holding in children is an interesting
phenomenon. It could indicate a metabolic disorder. A forty-milligram dose of Vitamin B6 twice a day
might be helpful. I think that’s probably it... You need Vitamin B6. You might also consider eating more
bananas, avocados, and beef liver.”
Schroeder goes back to playing his piano. Lucy sighs and says, “I ask for love, and all I get is beef
1. What is love?
2. How do we define it?
B. We can define it several ways:
1. We can define it academically
--New Testament Greek utilizes four different words for love
--romantic love or passion
--love unique in that it is not based on what you receive out of a relationship but is based on what
you give; it exists for its own sake
2. We can define it artistically
--We’re all familiar with Elizabeth Barret Browning’s poem How Do I Love Thee?:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
3. We can define it artificially
a. Artificial definitions of love are everywhere: Love is sex….Love is an emotion….Love is a
purchase….Love is “happily ever after”………Love is magic… Love is elusive…Love is…out
b. Hollywood is extremely efficient at promoting an artificial definition of love
4. We can define it actually
a. John tells us in 1 Jn. 3:16a – “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for
b. The closest definition of true love I have come across is by James Orr: “Love, generally is that
principle which leads one moral being to desire and delight in another, and reaches its highest form
in that personal fellowship in which each lives in the life of the other, and finds his joy in imparting
himself to the other, and in receiving back the outflow of that other’s affection unto himself.”
d. That’s the true love we find in Jesus Christ
II. THE EXAMPLE OF LOVE
A. What does our theme verse tell us?
1. 1 Jn. 3:16a – “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”
2. If we want to see love in action, we simply look at Jesus Christ and His love for us
B. How did Jesus show His love for us?
1. He came to earth to live like we live
--Jn. 1:14 – “14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the
glory of the One and Only,[who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
2. He lived life as a servant
--Mk. 10:45 – “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as
a ransom for many.”
3. He offered grace and forgiveness to others
--Mk. 2:1-12 – “A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had
come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he
preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them.
Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above
Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus
saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some teachers of the law
were sitting there, thinking to themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming!
Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they
were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things? Which is
easier: to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven, or to say, Get up, take your mat and walk?
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . .’ He said to
the paralytic, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ He got up, took his mat and walked
out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never
seen anything like this!’”
4. He gave His life for our sin
--Rom. 5:8 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us.”
5. Each one of those demonstrations of love is summed up in Phil 2:5-8 – “Your attitude should be the
same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in
human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient
to death— even death on a cross!”
C. A preacher during the Middle Ages announced that Sunday evening he would preaching on “The
Love of God.” As the people began to gather, the darkness of evening overtook the church building. No
sources of light were lit.
The preacher stood, lit a candle, and walked toward the front of the chancel. There was a large
crucifix there. The preacher first illuminated the crown of thorns, then the nail-pierced hands.
Following that, he shone the candle on the spear wound on Jesus’ side.
There was absolute silence in the building. You couldn’t even hear one soul breathe. The preacher
extinguished the candle and left the chancel. There was nothing else to say.
III. THE EXERCISE OF LOVE
A. 1 Jn. 3:16b – “And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”
1. As Christians, we’re called to walk in Christ’s footsteps
--1 Pet. 2:21 – “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example,
that you should follow in his steps.”
2. Love is the pre-eminent Christian virtue
--1 Cor. 13:13b – “But the greatest of these is love.”
3. The first fruit of the Spirit
--Gal. 5:22-23a – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
4. The sign of the reality of our faith
--Gal. 5:6b – “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
5. One of only three things that last forever
--1 Cor. 13:13a – “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.”
B. A number of years ago, there was a professor of psychology who tried to persuade his neighbors to
use only positive reinforcement with their children. Having no children of his own, whenever the
professor saw a neighbor scolding or disciplining one of their children, he would say, “You should love
your child and not punish him.”
One hot summer Saturday, the professor took to repairing his cement driveway. After several hours
of work, he laid down his trowel, wiped the sweat from his forehead, and started into his house. Out of
the corner of his eye, he saw a mischievous little boy sticking his foot in the fresh cement.
The professor rushed over, grabbed the boy, and was about to spank him when a neighbor leaned
over the fence and said, “Now professor. Don’t you remember? You should just love that child.”
The professor retorted, “I do love in the abstract, but not in the concrete!”
1. How do we show love “in the concrete”?
2. How do we practice the exercise of love?
--Our word “exercise” comes from a Latin word meaning ““to put to work”
C. Our passage this morning gives us the answer
1. Love is found in abundant life
--1 Jn.. 3:14 – “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.
Anyone who does not love remains in death.”
a. Jn. 10:10 – “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.”
b. Tom Ellsworth: “I have come to the conclusion that abundant living grows out of abundant
1). Those who love abundantly live abundantly. When you live life to love others, life takes on
freshness, a purpose, a vitality, a sense of well-being, and a sense of joy.
2). When love is absent, life becomes a burden.
c. As you celebrate the love of Jesus, make this week a week of change in your life.
--Bake a pan of brownies for your co-workers, call someone you haven’t talked to in awhile,
write a card of encouragement to someone you know is going through a tough time, say the
words – “I love you”.
d. When you begin to love, you’ll be amazed at how much you feel alive!
2. Love is found in total sacrifice
a. 1 Jn. 3:16 – “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we
ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”
b. If you travel through Washington, D.C., and cross over the Potomac, you will likely cross the
Arland D. Williams, Jr., Memorial Bridge. Who was Arland D. Williams, Jr.? On January 13,
1982, he gave hope to five individuals at the cost of his own life.
On that cold January day, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the icy Potomac. Almost all of the
passengers perished. Five different times, a helicopter dropped a rope to save Williams. Five
times, Williams passed the rope to other passengers in worse shape than he was, but after the fifth
time, he couldn’t hold on any longer.
--Jn. 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
3. Love is found in compassionate deeds
--1 Jn. 3:17-19 – “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on
him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but
with actions and in truth.”
a. Interesting word: In the NIV it’s translated “pity” but it is the word in the original language
describes feelings and emotions that come from deep within.
1). It means to “park your brain in neutral and respond from the compassion of the moment.”
2). It is an intense reaction that we cannot let this moment slip by.
--That’s the compassion that best demonstrates love.
b. Some years ago, there was a family who had suffered the tragic death of a child. It was the
custom of this family to leave their shoes outside their back door. A man who knew this family
knew about their loss. When he came to their house to offer his condolences and saw the shoes
outside the door it occurred to him that they might want to wear the shoes to the funeral. The
shoes were worn and dirty, so he took them home, cleaned and shined them and returned them
before they’d been missed.
A neighbor saw what he had done and asked him about it. He replied, “I knew if I had asked if
there was anything I could do, they would have said ‘no.’ Their shoes needed cleaning so I did it,”
he said matter-of-factly. To him it was no big deal, but to the family his “purposeful act of love”
c. I like how Kenneth Boa put it: “Our calling and purpose as followers of Christ is to love God
completely, to love self correctly, and to love others compassionately.”
D. Christ has called us as His body to demonstrate His compassion to this world.
1. Scripture tells us:
a. 1 Jn. 4:20 – “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does
not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”
b. James 2:15 -16 – “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says
to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs,
what good is it?”
c. James 4:17 – “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”
2. What are some concrete ways you can be loving and compassionate?
a. Was there something you saw that needed doing but you passed it by because you were in a hurry?
b. Is there an elderly person that would love even a 10-minute visit?
c. Maybe you know a person who is down and discouraged and they could use an encouraging word?
d. Is there a single mother struggling to make ends meet, raise children, and find some time just so she
can rest, relax, and recuperate?
e. The number of ways you can demonstrate compassion in Jesus’ name is only limited to your
willingness to offer compassion
CLOSE: A. As we wrap up today, let me give you a warning
1. John tells us in v. 13 – “Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.”
2. When you live out the love of Christ in practical ways, the world will look at you as being odd
a. Love is not their lifestyle but it is supposed to be our lifestyle
b. Here’s one area where they’ll really look at you funny
--Lk. 6:35 – “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting
to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most
High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”
3. My friend Bryan Sanders relates the story of a boy who was given the first name of “Odd.”
That’s right – O-D-D. The doctor and nurses even snickered at the baby’s name. When he
entered school, he was teased unmercifully. Even as an adult, his life was difficult because of
his first name.
Finally fed up with it, he told his wife one night, “When I die, I don’t want my name on the
gravestone. You can put the date I was born and the date I died. But that’s it!”
Some years later, he died and his wife was true to his wishes. She bought a beautiful
gravestone but only put on it the day he was born and the day he died. And even until this day,
when people pass through that cemetery, they point to his gravestone and say, “Isn’t that
4. Jn. 15:18-19 – “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to
the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have
chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
B. Richard Selzer, Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery
“I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, he mouth twisted in
palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth, has been
severed. She will be thus from now on. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the
curve of her flesh; I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to
cut the little nerve.
Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed and together they
seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, private. Who are they, I ask myself, he
and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily?
The young woman speaks. “Will my mouth always be like this?” she asks “Yes,” I say, “it
will. It is because the nerve was cut.” She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. “I like
it,” he says, “It is kind of cute.”
“All at once I know who he is. I understand and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an
encounter with a god. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth and I am so close I can see
how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works.”
--Jesus His love for us when He accommodated our twisted, sinful souls by His death on the cross