Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have
The love of Jesus for us, when obediently responded to with a reciprocating love in us for Him, yields four powerful results in our lives. First, as we respond aright to God’s love, we experience comfort. To contemplate His love for us is a won?der??ful con?solation. Samuel Ruth?erford, writing while in prison due to his faith, described Christ’s love as “the hottest coal that ever I felt.” Meditating on the love of God upholds us in sorrow, uplifts us in failure, and upends us in error.
We are steadied in life’s most trying hours by knowing Jesus loves us. In Spain, Napoleon’s troops opened a dungeon which had been sealed since the In?quis?i?tion. Inside, a chain fastened to the anklebone of a skele?ton bespoke the con?finement of a man incarcerated for his faith, forgotten, and al?lowed to starve. This man did not die without comfort. He had used a sharp piece of metal to cut into the rock wall a cross. At the four points of the cross, he had etched “height, depth, breadth, and length” to depict the vast magnitude of Jesus’ love for him. Even while starving to death in solitary confinement, the awe of God’s love in Christ overwhelmed him, and comforted him to the end. The love of Jesus comforts us.
Second, as we respond aright to God’s love, we experience commitment. Basking in Jesus’ love is delightful, but con?templation is not enough. Christ’s love is meant to be not only a truth pondered in the mind, but also a fire simmering in the heart that finally blazes forth in our actions. Thoughts and inner passions must eventually translate into deeds. It is not right to concentrate on the love of Christ, and then re?main the same. His love is bestowed on us in order to change us.
Count Zinzen?dorf, who claimed serving Christ was “his one pas?sion,” traced the decisive moment in his life to a time when he was con?templating a pic?ture of the crucified Christ. Surveying the scene, ?he was over?whelmed with Christ’s love, and asked, “You did this for me; what can I do for You?” This mo?ment of sincere contem?pla?tion changed him, and became the catalyst for his subse?quent career.
The love exchange between our Lord and us is meant to result in a com?mit?ment that for a lifetime remains unblemished. Someone once pur?chased in Mexi?co for Ruth and me watches bearing the Rolex brand name. These “Rolexico” watch?es, exact replicas of the real thing, were crafted not by ordinary thieves, but by very gifted thieves. The watches looked so real that we hesitated to wear them be?cause we feared peo?ple would think we had robbed a bank to buy them. They worked perfectly, but soon, when I took my watch off one night, my wrist had turned green. It looked like I had leprosy. The watch had obviously been made of corruptible materials. Our love for Jesus can also corrode, but we must not let this happen. We are to love Him incorrupt?ibly, with an abiding affection, a life long commitment. The genuineness of our love for God is proved ?by its endurance.
Have for Christ a permanence of devotion. Even as God’s grace to us never stagnates, even so our love for Jesus should never grow stale. Our love must be neither a passing gleam, like the morning fog or early dew, nor a feeling only stirred by a sentimental hymn. It has to be a deep, strong, everlasting emo?tion that persists through all our varying moods. It should remain incorruptible, deep in one’s essence, untainted by selfish thoughts, refusing to be swayed from Je?sus by an opposite love of anything displeasing to Him, and ever showing itself in action.
Third, as we respond aright to God’s love, we experience communion. As we enjoy comfort and display commitment for an extended period of time, we be?gin to sense ourselves being drawn irresistibly to love Christ ever more intimately.
This desire for deeper communion with Jesus is not intended only for deep mys?tics. It is meant to be the norm for all believers. We do not consider His love only abstractly, but in order to enjoy more direct intimacy with Him. We seek more of Him. Every Christian should desire to know Jesus better. The new birth implants in us a loving instinct, and sparks a desire which clamors for satisfac?tion.
We identify with William Cowper, who yearned to love Jesus more,
“Lord, it is my chief complaint
That my love is weak and faint.”
The inevitable result of love long extended is an increased desire for deeper com?munion with the beloved. If Ruth and I were given an all expenses paid trip to North Carolina, and were told I could stay in the Biltmore Mansion while Ruth slept at Motel 6, I’d say, “Thanks, but no thanks. Motel 6, here I come.” Years of love have taught me, where Ruth is, John wants to be. The same should be true of our relationship with Christ. ?We should have a growing desire to draw ever closer to our sweet, affable, lovely Jesus. Seek to make Jesus the passion of our lives.
Fra Angelica painted on his convent wall a picture of Jesus and the two on the road to Emmaus. The two are grasp?ing Christ’s hand, as if pleading, “Abide with us. Abide with us!” Let us do no less. Desire Him, grasp Him, for no long?ing after God is ever left unsatisfied. To crave is to possess. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteous?ness: for they shall be filled” (MT 5:6).
Fourth, as we respond aright to God’s love, we experience compassion. The love of Christ con?forms its admirers unto itself. The old painters used to portray John the Beloved with a face similar to His Master’s. The painters were making a valid statement. Anyone enamored with Christ’s love, will eventually begin to be like Jesus, look like Jesus, act like Jesus, have compassion like Jesus.
We eventually become what we love. I have a cousin who loves sports so much that he’s become a walking encyclopedia of sports trivia. People who love law become legal experts. Computer lovers become technology gurus. Love woos the beloved not only into our presence, but also into our very essence. If we love Jesus, we at?tract grace our direction, and find our?selves coming into contact with, and thus becoming more like, perfect virtue.
I remind us of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Great Stone Face.” On a moun?tain side, Nature carved a huge human face, having the glow of one with a sweet, warm, loving heart. Little Ernest lovingly looked upon the face, and his mother told him the old prophecy, someday one would come with such a face as that. Little Ernest looked up at the kind face and longed for such a one to come. Soon a native-born millionaire returned to town, and all believed he would be the face’s duplicate, but he was not. Ernest grew to be a young man, gazing often on the Great Stone Face’s tender, pleasant smile, and ever longing for someone to come with that coun?ten?ance. One day a native-born soldier returned to the valley as a decorated com?mand?er. Everyone hoped he would be the one, but he was not. As Ernest slipped into middle age, he continued to watch the gentle features of the Great Stone Face, living life quietly, being a blessing, and finally becoming a preacher. One day a fa?mous native-born political orator returned to town and every??one thought this would surely be the one of prophecy, but he was not. Ernest finally became an old man, with white hair and wrinkles. He had lived a kind life. People felt he talked with angels as his daily friends. One day a native-born famous poet returned to town. Ev?eryone thought he would surely fulfill the prophe?cy, but they were again disap?point?ed. However, it was the poet who, while listen?ing to Ernest preach, suddenly by an irresistible impulse, threw his arms aloft and shouted, “Behold! Behold! Er?nest is himself the likeness of the Great Stone Face!” The prophecy was fulfilled, the Great Stone Face having been duplicated not by the ones who had money be?neath its shadow, fought under its inspir?a?tion?, spoke elo?quently about it, or wrote beautifully of it, but by the one who loved it.
As we love Jesus, we will inevitably become more like Him, and what great?er role model could we have? In the God-man, Jesus, every virtuous and positive quality which can dignify human nature appeared. He crowned gran?d?eur of char?acter with flawless loveliness. To love Christ is to love perfec?tion–spot?less purity, moral beauty, unparalleled goodness. To be like Him is a goal worth pursuing.