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The Greater Love

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“Consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.”[1] “Consider carefully what you hear. With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”[2]

To the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sectJesus told them this parable: “No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’ [3]

Not long after John’s disciples asked whether He was the One to come or whether they should expect another, and Jesus had replied to them, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard… report… what you hear and see Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of Me.[4] …and also after He had fed the five thousand with five small barley loaves of bread and two small fish,[5] Jesus taught the crowds and His disciples that He was the Living Bread that came down from Heaven, the Bread of Life, and that if anyone eats of this Bread, which is His flesh, he will live forever.[6] Furthermore, He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” It was from this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.[7] Little wonder Jesus said earlier, “No one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says the old is better.”

Why? Because the new commandments of the New Covenant, the new wine from the new Vine, was too radical for the many and they turned back to the old, which appeared to their way of thinking to be far easier to keep, for they forgot quickly why they were looking for the new, and like their forefathers of old, they forgot the things they were meant to remember and remembered the things they were meant to forget.

They forgot they did not receive with careful listening to hear deeply what the Lord God Almighty was truly saying to them when He gave them the first simplistic to follow set of 10 Commandments that were on that occasion spoken directly to them by Him.[8] They forgot they could not bear to hear His Voice in first-person or to see before them the tremendous apparition of mammoth theatrical proportions in visual appearance of His Majestic All-Powerful Presence, whilst not revealing His Personage. And so they were given over to law upon law spoken indirectly to them through a mediator as they denied themselves of what should have been their greatest treasure to be deeply embedded in their hearts and cherished, which was that they would live with their Creator and their God, the Lord God Almighty, whose desire was to make His abode with them and remain in them as they would remain in Him and in His words.

They forgot that it was by His will and His power in answering their prayers that they were delivered from the huge things of the bondage to slavery from which they had continually cried out to Him for deliverance. And they remembered only the small things such as the food given to them freely for the singular purpose of keeping them alive that they could continue in their slave work of hard labour for the Egyptians, a food that they did not appreciate until this time.

Those first uncomplicated 10 Commandments, which is the old wine spoken directly by God to the people were:

{ “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”[9]

{ “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in Heaven above or on the Earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love Me and keep My commandments.”[10]

{ “You shall not misuse the Name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His Name.”[11]

{ “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the Heavens and the Earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”[12]

{ “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”[13]

{ “You shall not murder.”[14]

{ “You shall not commit adultery.”[15]

{ “You shall not steal.”[16]

{ “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”[17]

{ “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”[18]

There is nothing about these laws that would cost them their life to keep or that would cause them to endure personal suffering such as to become of the nature of love as God loved us, but these are laws beneficial to all mankind to live in harmony with each other and with God, for this wine was mellow.

But now this time, they were again unable to discern the quality of the fruit of the new wine given directly by Jesus because it was not yet mellowed, but was intensely fresh in its coming of age, crisp and tart to the point of cutting, with lots of tannin that is to clarify, to make clear, and remove all impurities. This new wine from the new Vine that is Jesus Himself, the fruit of the Word manifested in the flesh, also held within it high acid that at first seems sour and bitter to taste but its very purpose is to make us salty, and therefore it is a very confronting wine to those who have tasted of the old. But Jesus in His generous provident wisdom told His disciples that He, “shall also ask the Father, and He will give you who are His disciples who love Him, who obey what He commands, and who keep His commandments another Advocate – a person, as a lawyer, to work and counsel you and argue in support of Jesus’ case – to be with you for ever. He is the Spirit of Truth…”[19] that we may come to know and understand Jesus and the One who sent Him that we will love Them with an all-consuming desperate zealousness.

“If you love Me, you will obey what I command,[20] you will keep My commandments. If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word, and My Father will love him, and We shall come to him and make Our home with him [a place of abode]. He who does not love Me does not keep My Words. The Word that you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s, who has sent Me.”[21] These Words, which I am telling you, I am not speaking on My own authority; but the Father, who remains in Me [and abides with Me], is doing His works.”[22]

For He commanded us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who mistreat us, do good to them and lend to them without expecting anything back. And to do to others as we would have them do to us.[23] The reward is that as we practise this, we acquire the perfection and the mercy of the Father.[24] Note that we were never commanded to die for our enemies, for this is the greatest love, which He alone can fulfil and greater than the love of which He told us that one would lay down his life for his friends.

Then He commanded us to love one another. And He said as He has loved us, so we must love one another.[25] For He said, As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. This is My command: Love each other.”[26] He repeated this command to us three times, because the reward comes from the greater love of which He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command. I 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 [who do what I command]. You 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,”[27] for this is the door that leads to the Secrets of the Kingdom of God[28], the Kingdom of the hundredfold yield with nothing less than that yield being produced.

He commanded us to eat the Bread that is His body and to drink the blood, His blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. And He also said that He will not drink of this fruit of the vine… until that day when He drinks it anew with us in His Father’s Kingdom.[29] For as He said, “I am the Vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.”[30] He gave us this command that as we eat of His body, we would remain in Him and as we drink of His blood, we will bear the fruit of the Vine, fruit that will last; and the figurative eating is to do it in remembrance of Him giving His body for us[31] with the drinking of the blood as our acceptance of the New Covenant of the Forgiveness of Sins[32], but it is the literal eating and drinking of His body and His blood, that we may keep His word and obey it, which produces the fruit of the vine, the True Vine, which lasts so that the Father may be enabled to give us whatever we ask in Jesus’ Name.

To further help us intensely so that we will achieve, He gave us the Holy Spirit and commanded us to: “Listen to the Advocate, the Holy Spirit who will teach us everything and remind us of everything Jesus told us,[33] He will lead us into the whole truth. For He will not speak on His own authority, but He will speak whatever He hears, and He will tell us what is coming. He will glorify Jesus, because He will take from what is Jesus’ and will tell it to us.”[34] It is up to us to receive the Holy Spirit as Jesus said[35] and to practise listening to Him and obeying what He tells us to do and not to do, and many of us do not endure patiently in our practice and discard the gift of the Holy Spirit like an unappreciated garment. Shame on we who do this for we have treated Him like a puppet on a string!

So then, if many have fallen away because of the hardness and tartness of the teachings of the Vine, how do we arrive at that place of loving Jesus that much that we do achieve the keeping of all of His commands, even the harder and hardest ones to love one another for which He gave us His glory that we may be one as He is One with the Father?

When Jesus said, “I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little,”[36] was He saying that she was a worse sinner than the Pharisee at whose house Jesus had been invited, where this woman brought an alabaster jar of perfume so that she could wash His feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair, then pour the perfume over His feet? Or rather, was He saying that she was a sinner who acknowledged her sinful state at whatever state that was, and who recognised that the forgiveness that Jesus gave to her had set her free from her sin’s slavery? For this is the key, is it not?

This key is that it is not our state of greater or lesser sinfulness compared one to another, but that we recognize that we ourselves are sinners who fall short of the glory of God,[37] no matter whether it is that we have committed murder or adultery or unforgiveness of another, or even gossiping or being the listener to gossip or perhaps speeding or illegal parking, or thinking ill thoughts of another… each of these is a sin worthy of death, an error within us that cannot be taken into God’s eternity, and for which Jesus did shed His blood and give up His body for us.

And it is that as we come to that place of recognition of the sheer horror of our own personal state of sinfulness, and of our God’s astonishingly incredible and almost implausible amazing grace to us, which does touch the depths of our souls, that LOVE gave Themselves fully that we may have life eternal to the full if we would believe… and even when we do not, Love does open new doors, new ways, new avenues for grace to pour out its continuous healing balm. But it is how we recognise within ourselves the grace given to us and not whether we are greater or lesser sinners than any other. It is how we receive the Lord God Almighty’s grace as like a parched desert receives rain, or whether we receive it like a concreted gully, that grace is unable to permeate deeply into our hearts until that concrete is dug up and removed, that we may receive, respond and love much.

And as we gratefully and thankfully recognise with deepest responsive love that each unwanted sin, yet that we did commit that sin, has drawn us deeper into our God’s grace, and our love broadens and deepens as it increases in its intense passionate desperate desire for the Lord, the Lord, the Lord. And as we humbly in continuous imperative repentance receive Their forgiveness each and every day through this acutely heightened sense of that we have nothing to boast of ourselves, but only of Them, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Their glory begins to flow in intensity and power in its mightiness, for we are now unable to look at the splinter in our brother’s eye, for we can only see through the log encased in His grace and tied with the scarlet ribbon of the blood of His forgiveness, which does lie in our own eye, and we love much…

For apart from You Jesus, we can do nothing.[38]

Therefore, just as our love for our enemies leads us into being perfect and merciful as our Father is perfect and merciful,[39] so does our recognition of our own personal sinfulness and the great work of forgiveness given for and to us by the Lord, the Lord, the Lord lead us into the greater love that we will keep His word and His commands…


 

[1] Luke 8:18

[2] Mark 4:24-25

[3] Luke 5:30, 36-39

[4] Matthew 11:4-6; Luke 7:22-23

[5] Matthew 14:15-21; Mark 6:35-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:5-13

[6] John 7:51,48

[7] John 6:66

[8] Deuteronomy 5:26

[9] Exodus 20:2 Jewish 1st commandment (Oxford companion to the Bible p. 737)

[10] Exodus 20:3-5

[11] Exodus 20:7

[12] Exodus 20:8

[13] Exodus 20:12

[14] Exodus 20:13

[15] Exodus 20:14

[16] Exodus 20:15

[17] Exodus 20:16

[18] Exodus 20:17 [Note: Roman Catholic & Lutheran treat the 10th as two]

[19] John 14:16-17 God’s Eternal Word Translation

[20] John 14:15

[21] John 14:15, 23-24 God’s Eternal Word Translation [Peshitta Translation]

[22] John 14:10 God’s Eternal Word Translation [Peshitta Translation]

[23] Luke 6:27-28, 30-31, 35; Matthew 5:44

[24] Matthew 5:48; Luke 6:36

[25] John 13:34; 15:12

[26] John 15:9-10,12,17

[27] John 15:13-16

[28] Luke 8:10

[29] Matthew 26.26-29

[30] John 15:5-9

[31] Luke 22:19

[32] Matthew 26:28

[33] John 14.26 God’s Eternal Word Translation

[34] John 16.12-14

[35] John 20:22

[36] Luke 7:47

[37] Romans 3:23

[38] John 15:5

[39] Matthew 5:48; Luke 6:36

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