For March 12, 2023
In our contemporary world, love has many meanings. It can name an emotional attraction for job, house, vehicles, classical music, pizza, that odd Christmas sweater, and that pair of comfortable jeans. To the Greeks, we can express parental (storge), fraternal (phileo), or sensual (eros) love. However, Jesus transcends these concepts when He establishes this new paradigm (my emphasis),
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:34-35 (AKJV)
The Greek agape (Strong-G26), is the highest form of pure love because God is its power source. Our Lord is holy, and His love is without sin and selfishness. We are incapable of such pure altruistic love with our human strength alone, since our love seeks reciprocation. The Holy Spirit’s power makes it possible—although difficult—for Christians to express God’s agape love in ways that serve the recipient’s best interests.
The Bible tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8), and He continues to express it unselfishly. In the beginning, He created a perfect habitation for imperfect humans. After we fell and sin contaminated the world, He showed mercy to Adam and Eve through a promised Redeemer, who would nullify sin’s curse and dominion forever.
God’s love preserved humanity through Noah, when sin was rampant in the earth. Later, He produced a people of faith through Abraham to be a blessing to others. God’s love motivated Him to deliver His people from Egyptian bondage, part the Red Sea, give them His Law, feed them in the wilderness for 40 years, and give them a “Promised Land.” His love foretold of David’s successor, who would establish His Kingdom of justice and peace forever.
Agape motivated Jesus to leave glory to inhabit human flesh, walk on earth for thirty-three years, and share His message of love, faith, and redemption. He healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the hungry, encouraged the downtrodden, and taught a most captivating and distinct message.
He showed exceptional love to His betrayer, Judas, who attended His last Passover Seder. He could have exposed or condemned him, but He did not. Instead, He gave Judas permission to betray Him, “That thou doest, do quickly.” (John 13:27) Although Judas did not recognize it until it was too late to turn back, Jesus was offering Judas a last chance to repent.
Later, while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, agape led Jesus to accept His vicarious death on the cross for our redemption. The Disciples were sleeping, and He was praying alone to His Father. He asked His Heavenly Father if it was possible to escape death.
Yet, He chose to fulfill God’s will, not His. After being beaten, spat upon, and crowned with thorns, Jesus still surrendered Himself to be humiliated, stripped naked, and crucified so that we might know His love and forgiveness.
Isn’t it ironic how The Eternal Creator made the trees and metal ore that His creation—the human species—fashioned into a wooden cross and metal spikes used to bring salvation into a sin-cursed world? What a remarkable demonstration of unselfish, everlasting love for us!
Although we affixed Jesus to a wooden cross and placed Him on a hill between two thieves before throngs of mocking people, yet He still loved us. He could have commanded legions of angels to destroy us, but He did not. Instead, He surrendered His life to pay the penalty for our sin,
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:14-18 (AKJV)
Three days later, He rose from the dead, declaring He had all power in Heaven and earth! His love raised Him from the dead to ascend into Heaven where He intercedes for us before the Father. His love sent us the Holy Spirit to comfort and abide with us while we await Jesus’ glorious return. Then we shall know His pure love in its full measure forever. Hallelujah!
God’s love provides what is best for us. 1 John 4:10 tells us we should never measure love by how much we love God. Instead, we should measure love by how much He loves us, and how He sent His Son to pay sin debt. His unselfish love makes us right before God, as He sees His own amazing grace.
Jesus Christ relinquished His deity and glory, not for what we could do for Him, but for what He needed to do for us at Calvary. No longer are we without hope for redemption. God’s love lifted us from despair into the presence of God forever, as this familiar hymn attests,
Love Lifted Me1
James Rowe (1865-1933)
I was sinking deep in sin, Far from the peaceful shore, Very deeply stained within, Sinking to rise no more; But the Master of the sea, Heard my despairing cry, From the waters lifted me– Now safe am I.
All my heart to Him I give, Ever to Him I’ll cling, In His blessed presence live, Ever His praises sing. Love so mighty and so true, Merits my soul’s best songs; Faithful, loving service, too, To Him belongs.
Souls in danger, look above, Jesus completely saves; He will lift you by His love, Out of the angry waves. He’s the Master of the sea, Billows His will obey; He your Savior wants to be– Be saved today.
Love lifted me, Love lifted me, When nothing else could help, Love lifted me; Love lifted me, Love lifted me, When nothing else could help, Love lifted me.
All that the Lord requires from us today is to accept His love by surrendering ourselves to His Lordship—by faith—believing that we can have the forgiveness of sin along with the gift of eternal life because of His loving sacrifice at Calvary. As a result, you will know God’s peace and His abiding presence forever, as you bask in His eternal and amazing love. Won’t you turn to Him as your Savior today?
What a Wonderful Savior!