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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Jesus' Heart for His Bride Part 2 (John 14)

The other day, I drove by a business with a sign that said something to the effect of:

“People don’t love you for who you are, they love you for how you make them feel.”

Isn’t that true? My default is to love (or not love) people for how they make me feel. (By loving someone, I mean having/growing in affection for them, pursuing them, desiring to serve them or bless them and seeking their good in all things, even if it costs me). My default mode of love is that if someone makes me feel good about myself or makes me feel pleasure, I love them. Conversely, if someone makes me feel unsure of myself or hurts me, I tend not to love them. This is the way of worldly love, where love is used as a reward or a punishment based on variable feelings, and consequently, love does not endure because everyone disappoints and sins against one another; or love simply gets messy and requires too much of a sacrifice or inconvenience to persist, so instead it fizzles out. The ultimate purpose of this kind of “love” is self-serving.

As I continue to mediate on John 13-17, I see that Christ’s love is so different from this! It is so different from the default mode of my own heart and from the “love” I see in pop culture and the world around me. Look at how He loves His Father who has asked Him to make the ultimate sacrifice in obedience. Look at how He loves His disciples who just don’t get it and who disappoint and even betray him.

John 14“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

Jesus loves perfectly. He loves the Father in perfect obedience to the Father’s perfect will. He loves His people affectionately and sacrificially. Despite the fact that Jesus is anticipating carrying the weight of the world’s sins on His shoulders and bearing the wrath against those sins through a painful and torturous death and separation from His beloved Father, Jesus is sincerely and tenderly comforting His disciples. He tells them not to be afraid. He tells them to trust Him. He tells them that He is not leaving them as orphans. He is doing all of this with the full knowledge that His disciples still don’t fully understand that He is God Almighty in their midst. He even knows that His disciples—His closest earthly friends--will abandon and betray Him in His biggest hour of need. Indeed, His friends are the very reason why He has to suffer and die—to cover the cost of their sin! Yet, despite the failings of His disciples, Jesus’ tender affection and compassionate love for His disciples is unfailing.

So, what does all this have to do with Jesus’ heart for His Bride? In this passage, we see that:

1) Jesus loves us scandalously! He loves us despite our sin and failings. He loves us despite the cost to Himself. He loves us efficaciously, challenging us to flee sin and pursue righteousness. He loves us with tender affection, caring about our pain and fears.

2) Jesus wants us to be with the Father. He died so that we could have relationship with the Father. He died so that we (the imperfect) could dwell with Our Perfect Father God, Creator of the World and Judge over all. He is preparing a place for us with God the Father, where we will dwell with Him unhindered by Satan, sin, or death!

3) Jesus wants us to believe in Him. Jesus is our only way to eternal life with the Father. Apart from Jesus, we have no hope.

4) Whether or not we truly believe in Jesus is shown in our obedience to His commandments--which are to love God and to love others. Do we love? Does the way we love look more like the way that Jesus loves rather than the way the world loves? If we don’t love, we don’t really believe in Him or belong to Him. If our love is not increasingly conforming to the way that Jesus loves rather than the way that the world loves, we don’t really believe in Him or belong to Him.

5) If we sincerely believe in Jesus (see above), we have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us to guide us and to reveal to us more of who Jesus is, so that we can worship Him and so that we can be conformed to His image. The Holy Spirit teaches us, helps us, and reminds us of God’s Word. The Holy Spirit is the way that our default modes change so that they conform instead to the heart and actions of Jesus. Our default understanding of love is worldly, but by the Holy Spirit, our understanding of love is changing (if we are believers) so that our understanding and practice of love is more and more conformed to how Jesus lived and taught love.

6) Satan has nothing on Jesus. Jesus has already won. Things will look dark to us for a little while in this life. We will experience and witness pain and injustice. We will see worldly philosophies heralded all around us that directly contradict what we are taught in Scripture. It might even look to us like evil is triumphing and Jesus has been defeated. Jesus is telling us to hold on to Him and His ways. He is telling us to trust Him and to believe Him when He says we are not alone, He has won the battle, and He is preparing a place for us with Him. Jesus is telling us to pursue and not quench the Holy Spirit who dwells inside us to remind us that there is something more than what we see all around us--because there is.

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