For God so Loved…
Loved what? …the world. Wow that is big. Big Love!
Nothing wrong with that right, but there is isn’t there. How personal does that feel.
If we’re not careful we can take this ultimate declaration of Love for us and we can make it like saying we love chocolate cake.
John 3:16 says For God so Loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life
Everlasting life, That ain’t chocolate cake. But when people hear the words of John 3:16 it can feel like singing “feed the world”. Whose gonna feed the world. It’s a bit over whelming.
It doesn’t feel like it’s about you. Sometimes “Loved the world”, doesn’t feel like you are the one who is being Loved.
As Christians we are taught to make our relationship with Jesus Christ a personal one. Make Jesus your “personal savior” (to quote Depeche Mode)
So how do we make the leap from “the world” to “me”
For God so Love me that he gave his only begotten son, that if I believed I should not perish, but have everlasting life.
How do we get there?
Let’s start by looking at the relationships that God had with the people he spent time with on earth in the person of Jesus Christ.
How did He relate to those around Him?
In Luke we see Jesus spending time in the home of three people who offered their home. Jesus was at the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. Now later we learn about Lazarus, but at this point we see his first interactions.
Have you ever stayed at someone else’s house as a guest? If not then maybe this won’t make since, but if you need to stay in a town that is not your home the idea of staying in someone’s home can feel hyper personal. Because of the way we have become so individualized, we have become so concerned with our “personal space”, it can seem very odd. We don’t have the freedom to watch what we want on TV, we are offered food that maybe isn’t our fair, we have to talk to people and be nice, we have to be covered everywhere we go, we are always on stage. Our individuality has been deeply invaded.
How does Jesus react to the attention?
38As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41″Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
When Jesus died and arose again His return wasn’t to the world in some grand display, it was to His individual disciples; To Mary, to the women who came to attend to His body, to Peter, to the disciples sitting together wondering what to do. In one particular event he came to two men;
13Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16but they were kept from recognizing him.
17He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19″What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
25He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
*** 28As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Jesus is deeply concerned with a personal relationship with these people. He tell them that He loves them. He tells them to Love one another as He has Loved them.
12My command is this: Love each other as I have Loved you. 13Greater Love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.
He leads them and teaches them in a personal form of ministry that involves going out and touching the sick to heal them, walking across town to attend to the death of a child, coming home to be with Mary and Martha while raising Lazarus from death, speaking to the woman at the well about her individual problems and offering her salvation from them. When he returned to the disciples at one point He prepared a meal for them as they returned from work.
9″As the Father has Loved me, so have I Loved you. Now remain in my Love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my Love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his Love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
“Love functions well as the core notion of holiness. Love provides the foundation and framework for faith.” – Monty D. Jackson
I think it speaks volumes about the idea of how men come to desire the living of a holy life. God’s Love for us is attractive to us because it is holy and undeserved.
We are curious about it and we are wired to want it. We long for someone to Love us no matter how broken we are.
Love me. Me individually. Wholly and holy.
But His call to us is to Love Him back and to pass that Love on to all people. Not just the Love of passion that is fleeting, but that a Love that transcends behavior and feeling.
What better way to escape sin then to be able detach Love from feelings and behavior? If we will allow God to shape our hearts to His then sin becomes unattractive to us when compared to His kind of Love and His kind of Love doesn’t allow for sin. At the point of realizing this fact we open ourselves to the calling of the Holy Spirit who comforts us even when we are alone.
When Jesus was nearing the end of his ministry here on earth we are told that he went to a garden to pray. He prayed for himself and He prayed for the disciples who were with Him in His ministry, then he prayed for another group.
20″ I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have Loved them even as you have Loved me. 24″Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you Loved me before the creation of the world. 25″Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the Love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
The Love of God – by Frederick M. Lehman, 1917
The Love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.
You see God’s Love is not limited to you, but it is focused on you.
God is not limited by space or time and He is not limited to loving you only as part of His vast creation. God longs to have a personal relationship with you that involves eating a meal with you, talking to you about that wonderful thing that happened, and comforting you when you are broken by this world.
For God so Loves me…
For God so Love DaRhonda…
For God so Loved Cathy…
For God so Loved Elizabeth…
… that he gave his only begotten son, that if you believed you should not perish, but that you should have everlasting life.