Summary: One of the hallmarks about the life of Jesus that even people outside of the church are not shy to talk about is how Jesus preached and demonstrated the concept of love. But hwo do we reflect taht same love back to God and to others
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Do you love God, if so how can you prove it? Chapters fourteen through sixteen of the Gospel of John represents a remarkable section of the Bible where Jesus is laying out what is about to happen next to Him and His followers.Here He lays out how expects His followers to live without Him and the plan for the coming of the Holy Spirit. More often than not it is the part about the Holy Spirit that gets the most amount of attention when people read these chapters but today I want to talk about the concept of love. What does it have to do with us, our relationship with God and our relationships with others.
One of the hallmarks about the life of Jesus that even people outside of the church are not shy to talk about is how Jesus preached and demonstrated the concept of <strong>love</strong>. Often He is called the preacher of love by others and while that may be true it is only a small glimmer of the total picture. Usually when we think of love we either look at it as being physical love between two people or we see it as family love between parents and a child. When it comes to God and His concept of love it supersedes any and all expressions that we are used to seeing among people.
Which is why the Greek word <em>agape</em> is used repeatedly by Jesus rather than the other Greek words for love. <em>Agape</em> (which is theologically connected to the Hebrew word "hesed") speaks of selfless, covenant bound, unbreakable, respectful, committed love. Not the kind of love that fizzles out after a couple of years, or the type of love which is conditional on happiness, it is true love from its true source.
The Great Command
In John 14:21 Jesus says something truly astounding, and I will include it here in multiple versions so we don’t miss what is being said.
ESV “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”</span>
NLT “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”</span>
TPT “Those who truly love me are those who obey my commands. Whoever passionately loves me will be passionately loved by my Father. And I will passionately love you in return and will manifest my life within you.”</span>
AMPC “The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.]”</span>
NKJV “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”</span>
What Jesus is saying here is that those who claim to love Him are those who have listened and applied His words to their own lives. This love is reciprocated by the Father who will ensure that those people will have Jesus be living and active in their lives. Here we see a love being demonstrated that goes beyond our usual cultural understanding of love. Jesus is not speaking about a love based on meeting someone’s needs/wants, or being attractive enough, or even the type of love which is feigned when one settles for less than they originally hoped for.
No, Jesus is telling us about a love based on faith, assurance, expectation and respect. Think about it how do those who you love treat you? Do your children/siblings have any respect for you or do they see you as a walking shopping mall? Is there an expectation that the other person loves you back and do they do things which confirm that? Do you have an assurance that you spouse equally loves you in return, or are you carrying the entire burden and hoping they don’t run off like a bird that has had their wing repaired? Do you have faith that those people who claim to love you will be there in an hour of need, crisis or pain?
Think back over these questions and then <strong>ask yourself</strong> how do these questions describe my own relationship with God?
Do You Love Me?
In John 21:15-17 Jesus challenges Peter three times on whether or not Peter still loved Him despite the multiple denials the morning of the crucifixion. Each one of us needs to read this account and instead of shaking our heads at Peter we really need to ask ourselves the same question. Peter was asked three times if He loved Jesus and Jesus replied to Peter’s confession by telling him to feed (watch over while grazing) and tend (take care of, shepherd, oversee) his fellow believers.