The Principle of Love
Letís suppose you knew that you had less than 24 hours to live. What would you say to your family and friends?
This was the situation of Jesus on that last Passover evening and, as recorded in the Gospel of John Chapters 13 through 17, Christ tried to share an attitude of love with His disciples.
"Little children, I am with you a little while longer ... A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn 13:33-35).
This commandment was really new and had not been given ever before. The love principal which was given in the first covenant, in Leviticus 19:18as a type of this onewas from a different perspective; "...you shall love your neighbor as yourself..." Now the standard of love for those who follow Christ was to be love, "...even as I have loved you." This magnified standard was brand new in the world and to all of Godís children who wish to be Christís disciples.
Each one of us should study and meditate upon how Christ lived and died for us, for no one has ever loved us as He did and continues to do!
During those last 20 hours or so, Christ tried to share the future, based on love, with those disciples, as a pattern for all His followers in the years to come.
As He began to build on this love principle, He tried to comfort them, "Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me" (Jn 14:1). He made a very brief statement about going away and returning to them, then He said, "And you know the way where I am going." Now Thomas was not afraid to speak what was on his mind and when this statement did not make sense to him, he said, "Lord, we do not even know where you are going, how can we know the way?" One purpose for the statement by Christ must have been to begin to shift the disciples thinking/mindset from the physical to the Spiritual. (We also have this need, even today.) Thomasí mindset was on the physical location of the destination, but Christ taught us all the Spiritual principle of "Nothing But Christ!" when He replied, "I am the way, and (I am) the truth, and (I am) the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (v 6).
Thomas and the other discipleslike most believers todayhad a relationship with Jesus Christ, but did not grasp the magnitude of knowing Him personally as the only means or method of transportation into the Fatherís presence.
Please take a little time to read and meditate on verses 7-11 as Christ tried to explain to them, and us, the magnified fellowship we are to grow into (I Cor 1:9) as followers of Christ. He began this particular teaching with, "If you had (truly) known Me...."
Next He told them of the greater works His followers will do because, "...I go to the Father." (Can you see the Love principle here?) He followed this with an absolute, clear promise that whatever the disciples ask "In His Name," He will do it in order to glorify the Father. That was His very purpose in living, and should be ours as well.
"In My Name" is that spiritual sphere where Christ abides, and as we fellowship with Him in that realm, we have unlimited authority. Itís similar to the legal term "Power of attorney" which means His disciples have the legal authority to act on behalf of Christ. This means that all His power to love and to live Life belongs to us because He said it is so. In His Name is unlimited power and we have the authority to use it.
Itís really not a matter of faith, as such, but a matter of understanding our position in Christ and then taking our place alongside Him, being and thereby doing the Fatherís will on earth today.
Wow! Some statement, huh! Some may be thinking, "How is it possible for little oleí me to do our Fatherís will, accomplishing the sameand even greaterworks as did the Messiah?" I refer you to Matthew 19:26 and Luke 18:27 for the Scriptural answer.
Then in John 14:16-18, Christ once again demonstrates the principle of love and tells them (us) what action He will be taking on their behalf, "I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever...I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you."
Next in instructing us in the love principle, Christ focused the disciples attention on obedience, making the direct connection between love and applied action: "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word...He who does not love Me does not keep My words."
The apostle Paul shared this connection between love and right action in I Corinthians 13. In this letter he listed fifteen individual examples of the love which Christís disciples should understand and apply. As we meditate on these examples, we see that this type of love is something we do, rather than an emotional feeling. Indeed, some even focus on a lack of a particular emotion; love is not jealous; love is not provoked, etc.
This type of love "Never Fails" or never falls into sin and disfavor with God. This is why, as we keep His words, both the Father and Christ will love usthey will take the action of coming to us and making their "abode" with us. This is accomplished through the "Helper" the Holy Spirit, who "...the Father will send in My Name." And it is the Helper who will teach us all things. (Jn 14:26; I Jn 2:27)
Another action example of Christís love for us is the peace He has given to us. His Peace is not what we normally think of as peacethe absence of conflictbut Christian peace comes by the presence of God. He makes His abode with us and this is the love He shares with us.
Before they left the room where the Passover service was observed, He gave the disciples one more brief example (v 37) of love being an action word;
"...but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, even so I do." Because there was continuous communication (prayer) between them, and the fact that our Messiah never spoke or did anything outside of the Father, they were at one with each other in Christís walk on earth. This is how He demonstrated His love for the Father, and is a pattern for all of the children of God.
Scripture does not indicate the physical location where Christ spoke the words recorded in Chapters 15, 16 and 17, but the theme of love was continued.
The beautiful and deeply Spiritual analogy of the vine, the vine dresser, and the branches is summarized, without an analogy, in verses 8-11; "By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Fathers commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be made full."
In the church today, it seems that the process of discipleship is not well understood and taught by only a few, especially when it comes to the specific standards Jesus set out for us in Matthew 10:38-39, Luke 9:23-24, and Luke 14:26-27,33. But here in the remaining part of John 15:12-27 Christ gave an overview of the disciples relationship with each other: "Love one another just as I have loved you," and their relationship with the world: "If the world hates you, [lack of love] you know that it hated Me before it hated you," and ended by telling them that they will be witnesses of the living Christ, through the Helper. We would do well to meditate on these words.
The first sentence in Chapter 16 focuses on the reason why Christ is giving them all this information during the last few hours of His life, "These things I have spoken to you that you may be kept from stumbling." As His disciples apply these principles of love, we will be kept from stumbling, even if we should be removed from the organized religious movement we have become accustomed to. If we walk in the light which He reveals to us, then we will have fellowship with Him and those that belong to Him, in the light. (I Jn 1:5-7).
By now the fact that Jesus was indeed going to leave them was sinking in, and they were understandably sad. It was here He gave them a Spiritual truth that few, even today, seem to grasp. He said, "...it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away the Helper shall not come to you...." Therefore, this Helper, which is called along side to help, is more or greater than the power given to, for example, the 70 disciples when they were sent out two by two. It is a magnification of that power because this "Helper," the Holy Spirit is Jesus Christ, our Lord (II Cor 3:17), and this Helper embodies all that Jesus experienced and overcame as a man on earth.
As we meditate on this, and consider the fact that He will "abide" with His disciples, who are His temple (I Cor 3:16, 6:19), and further, "When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth...He shall glorify Me, for He shall take of Mine and shall disclose it to you" (Jn 16:13-15). Then the awesome privilege we have to be the recipients of this wonderful act of love should begin to have its Spiritual effect in us. We shall begin to yield ourselves, we shall take up our cross and walk with Him, we shall abide in Him, at His level, for His use. This is pure discipleship, and sadly is not seen much in the church today.
Then in verse 23 He tells His disciples of some of the effects of the cross, "...Truly, truly, I say to you, if (when) you shall ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in My name." Once again, He is trying to teach His disciples of the awesome power to love, which is embodied in that all encompassing Spiritual realm, "In My Name!"
And, in verse 33, Christ gives a very brief summary of what He has given to His disciples in those last few hour of his life; "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world."
"In His Name," we too have overcome the world. Believe it!
Chapter 17 is the true "Lordís Prayer," and worthy of much study and meditation, and is therefore beyond the scope of this paper. However, the theme of the love of Christ for His Father, and their love for mankind, is embedded in every statement Christ makes to His Father.
I will close this paper with the Scriptural definition of eternal life, as recorded in verse 3; "And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." If any of us desire eternal life, then we need to get to know, personally, the Son of God.
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