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The Greatest Love

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Jesus said, “…I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.”[1] “This is My commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”[2] “This is My command: Love each other.”[3] It is written that Jesus gave the command “love each other” to His disciples three times.

How are we to love each other? Jesus has set the standard of that love through His love for us and through His laying down of His life for us. According to Jesus, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends is truly the greater love. Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, has shown the greatest love when He laid down His life and poured out His blood as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. He showed the greatest love through the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins with the Father, for Jesus is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. So truly, Jesus displayed the greatest love even before the creation of the world.

We all know that the Father loves Jesus. But why does the Father love Jesus? Jesus said, “The Father loves Me because I sacrifice My life so I may take it back again. No one can take My life from Me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what My Father has commanded.”[4] He also said, “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you.”[5] Therefore, the standard of love of the Father must be of the greatest love as well, for Jesus said that He loved us as the Father loved Him, and Jesus’ love is of the greatest love.

Jesus came not only to lay down His life for the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins and to show us the Way, the Truth and the Life, but also to show us what Love is. John the Beloved wrote: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.[6] This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His One and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.[7]

Jesus has set the standard of love. And we who are His disciples should love each other at that standard. That standard is the standard of sacrificial love.

Then there is also inseparable love, which we heard about during last Wednesday’s teach. What is inseparable love? It is love that is the perfect bond of unity.[8] Paul wrote this to the Colossians: [Therefore, as the elect of God[9]], holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.[10] And in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he wrote: Love is patient, Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the Truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.[11]

The one thing that can separate us from the Love of God is unforgiveness. And unforgiveness can also separate us from the love of each other, for there is no unforgiveness in Love. Love does not, NOT forgive. You can say that to not forgive is to not love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the Name of God’s One and only Son.”[12] God sent His Son into the world so that Jesus may lay down His life and thus seal the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins with His blood. And Jesus did come into the world and He did lay down His life, and with His blood He did seal the New Covenant. God did this so that He can become God the Forgiver. And He is God the Forgiver. If His image, which is man, does not forgive as He forgives, then how can that be love? For God is Love and God is the Forgiver. Thus, Love enjoys forgiving. How can someone who does not forgive be one with God the Forgiver who is Love? I know not how.

Since unforgiveness can separate us from the Love of God, then forgiveness can bring us closer to the Love of God, for the Lord is looking for one or ones who are of His perfect Image, the Image of God the Forgiver who loves. Thus, forgiveness is the key to inseparable love. As surely as there is inseparable love, love that is the perfect bond of unity, among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there should also be inseparable love among the disciples of Jesus Christ.

Peter wrote: …love covers over a multitude of sins.[13] Jesus taught us to forgive our debtors,[14] to forgive men when they sin against us,[15] to forgive anyone we hold anything against,[16] to forgive our brother when he repents,[17] to forgive our brother from our heart,[18] and any sins we forgive are forgiven, any sins we do not forgive are not forgiven.[19] Jesus commanded us to love one another as He has loved us.[20] He also said, “…do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”[21] Therefore, when we forgive the sins of one another, we love one another as Jesus loved us, for He died for the forgiveness of our sins. And in forgiving each other, we are fulfilling the Law and the Prophets as well, for we would want our sins forgiven too. Thus, this forgiveness of each other’s sins does not only mean that those sins are forgiven, but it shows the inseparable love, the love that covers over a multitude of sins. Isn’t Love amazing?!

Jesus said, “I pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are One—as You are in Me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in Us so that the world will believe You sent Me. I have given them the glory You gave Me, so they may be one as We are One. I am in them and You are in Me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent Me and that You love them as much as You love Me.”[22]

How does one remain in Jesus? Jesus said, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me, and I in him.”[23] “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the Vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. 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. 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. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. [Yes, your joy will overflow![24]]”[25]

We have to remain in Jesus to be able to remain in the Love of God, for God is Love and Jesus is God and thus Jesus is Love. In other words, we have to remain in Love. To be one with each other as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One, is also to be one in Love with each other as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One in Love. We are to experience such perfect unity in Love, for the Image of God is also the Image of Love and Love is One, not separate but inseparable.

John wrote: …those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love Him. That is how we know we are living in Him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.[26] How did Jesus live His life? He lived His life by loving the Father and doing exactly what the Father commanded Him.[27] Likewise, we are to live our life by loving the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and doing exactly what Jesus commanded us. The only way to know how to love Them and to know what Jesus commanded us is through listening to Jesus, which is the command of the Father to disciples of Christ.[28] If we love the Father and do what the Father commanded us, which is to ‘listen to Jesus,’ we are doing exactly what Jesus did. That way, the Father can receive more sons and daughters who are the full stature of His Son, Jesus Christ. And this is to His glory, that the Father has more sons and daughters who are perfect, merciful, compassionate, gracious, forgiving, loving and grateful, who are like His Son, Jesus Christ, and who are in His perfect Image.

John wrote: Dear friends, let us love one another, for Love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is Love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His Love is made complete in us. We know that we live in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is Love. Whoever lives in Love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment, because in this world we are like Him. There is no fear in Love. But Perfect Love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in Love. We love because He first loved us. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.[29]

The love we have for each other should be a love without fear, for there is no fear in Love. We must forgive the sins of one another from our hearts, no matter how great the sin is or even if the sin is against us. Of course, the unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot and will not be forgiven.[30] We should also forgive all future sins of one another, for Jesus went to the cross and died for the forgiveness of all our sins, including our future sins. And no, this is not a license to sin.

Inseparable Love has no fear in laying down one’s life for one’s friends. To lay down your life for another is to do what Jesus did, and it is the greater love. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”[31] Why should there be fear in laying down your life for another when Jesus said, “Everyone who lives in Me and believes in Me will never ever die”?[32] And if you lose your head because of your testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, you will be eligible for the first resurrection, in which the second death has no power over you, but you will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.[33] And if your fellow disciples also qualify for the first resurrection, then you will be inseparable from them and from God. You will be inseparable from Love.

Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.”[34] Likewise, every love divided against itself will not stand and will be ruined. It will be separated. And true Love is inseparable.

God is Love. The Father is Love. Jesus is Love. The Holy Spirit is Love. Love is sacrificial. Love is inseparable. Love is the perfect bond of unity. Love is forgiving. Love is gracious. Love is perfect. Love is merciful. Love is compassionate. Love is grateful.

Are you in Love? Are you in Love with the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Are you in Love with your fellow disciples, who are your mothers, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are you in Love with your enemies? Or are you offended with Love? Are you offended with the words and actions of Love? Are you offended with the fruits of Love?

Will you be able to stand firm without Love during the days of distress unequalled since the beginning of the world and never to be equalled again? Will you be able to stand without Love when the Holy Spirit is taken out of the way? Take your stand now. You are either in Love or out of Love. You are either within Love or without Love. You cannot be lukewarm. You are either hot for Love or your love is cold.

If you have chosen to be in Love, let the Light of Love shine brightly from within you as you take your stand shoulder to shoulder with your fellow disciples who are also in Love. Then the strength of the Lord will be with you. Amen.


 

[1] John 13:34-35 NLT

[2] John 15:12-13 NLT

[3] John 15:17 NLT

[4] John 10:17-18 NLT

[5] John 15:9

[6] 1 John 3:16

[7] 1 John 4:9-12

[8] Colossians 3:14 NASB

[9] NKJV

[10] Colossians 3:12-14 NASB

[11] 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

[12] John 3:16-18

[13] 1 Peter 4:8

[14] Matthew 6:12

[15] Matthew 6:14

[16] Mark 11:25

[17] Luke 17:3-4

[18] Matthew 18:35

[19] John 20:23

[20] John 13:34 & John 15:12

[21] Matthew 7:12

[22] John 17:21-23 NLT

[23] John 6:56

[24] NLT

[25] John 15:4-11

[26] 1 John 2:5-6 NLT

[27] John 14:31

[28] Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:7 & Luke 9:35

[29] 1 John 4:7-21

[30] Matthew 12:31

[31] John 14:12

[32] John 11:26 NLT

[33] Revelation 20:4-6

[34] Matthew 12:25

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