Summary: God’s love for us is proactive, unconditional, and unending.
We didn’t quite finish our study of verses 34 and 35 last week, so we’re just going to pick right back up where we left off. Jesus is preparing His disciples for His death, and He wants them to know how to act once He’s gone, so He tells them:
34A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
The old commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself, but the new commandment is to love your brother more than yourself because love is the mark of a true Christian. We can have amazing knowledge and abilities, but without love we’re nothing more than a lone clanging cymbal. (I Cor. 13:1-13).
We’ve talked a little about how God has loved us, but I’d like to explore that theme a little deeper. He tells the disciples, “as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” How has God loved us? Well, from the immediate context we see that He came as a servant. Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. His way of loving them was in humility and service and putting their needs ahead of His own.
But there’s more to the love of God than just selfless humility. “As I have loved you…” That’s what we’re going to study today, and we’re going to bounce around the Scriptures to do it.
God’s love is Proactive
Go with me to Luke’s gospel and see the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin:
Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. 3And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. 8Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth (Lk. 15:1-10)
Note the first sentence. The Pharisees are all wound up because the dirty sinners aren’t being treated as such. But Jesus reveals His own feelings for them when He shows two people searching diligently for something lost until it was found. Finding what was lost was cause for rejoicing, and the two people even invited their friends and family to join with them in celebration. This, Jesus says, is just the same as it is in the kingdom of God.
Go backwards just a little in Luke’s gospel and you’ll find the true story of one dirty sinner named Zacchaeus:
And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. 3And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. 4And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. 5And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. 7And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. 8And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. 9And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (Lk. 19:1-10).