Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Equal in Love

John 5:16-20 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. (17) But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working." (18) This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (19) So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (20) For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.

In our last piece in this series- “Workplace Equality”- we saw in verse 19 Jesus expressing the intimacy of the Son with the Father, while in verse 20, Jesus speaks of the Father’s intimate love for the Son.

But within the Godhead, love is utterly reciprocal, for all are equally God, therefore equally glorious in perfect love.

The Father’s love for His Son is exhibited here by His open revelation of “all that He Himself is doing.” For the Son to do likewise work, He must have likewise understanding.

And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.” Upon considering this verse, our minds wander ahead to the works that we think to be greater than healing a paralytic- maybe the healing of a blind man in John 9, certainly the raising of Lazarus in John 11. But to stop there is to miss Our Lord’s greatest work of love- found in John 19. This chapter opens with “Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him” & closes with “since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.” In this chapter we see the most marvelous expression of love in the history of all time. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Especially so when that “someone” is the righteous Judge of those friends, but out of His inestimable love, He willingly abdicates to another Judge (the Father), laying down His royal robe & scepter so as to step in front of & absorb the just punishment due His friends. Oh, what a friend indeed!

Consider such a love. Daily.

The Father expresses His perfect love to His only Son by revealing all knowledge to Him. And the Father’s Son & Spirit likewise express Their faultless love for us by revealing the knowledge of God’s perfect propitiation to our hearts.

John 10:14-18 "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father."

God’s love for man, shown best by the cross, commonly goes unrequited (most certainly in like measure), because we are not God- we are weak & lowly. Even such an extreme expression of love as the perfect & just Creator submitting to sufferance for the salvation of the rebellious & unjust creation does not henceforth draw forth pure love from said creation. Most of mankind remains on the wide road towards their own destruction, remarkably blasé about expressing love to God despite the outstanding witness of God’s love to man in the cross of Christ. And though “we love because He first loved us” (1John 4:19), even we on the narrow road still fall short of perfect love. John ever presses us on towards Christ-like love in his first epistle, but the perfect love he highlights in chapter 4 is not our love for God, but God’s love for us- expressed by Christ; & in us- expressed by the abiding of His Spirit. The Apostle exalts Christ’s flawless love within our hearts as our source when the natural man desires something less.

1 John 4:7-21 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (8) Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (9) In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. (10) In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (11) Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (12) No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (13) By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. (14) And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. (15) Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. (16) So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (17) By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. (18) There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (19) We love because he first loved us. (20) If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. (21) And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Truly, verse 9 states “(Jesus) was made manifest among us (in the world)… so that we might live through Him”, but this passage teaches as well that He was made manifest in our hearts so that we may love through Him as well. The “confidence for the day of judgment” comes not as a result of our perfect love, for that would justify us through our works. No, this confidence comes as we peer within our soul & perceive the perfect love of God alone dwelling there. This is our confident hope- that our salvation is real, based upon so great a love as that of Jesus Himself, so totally foreign to the natural man, abiding within the very depths of our soul.

We ourselves react with His marvelous love, & thereby prove out His presence with us today- greatly increasing our faith, & therefore our confidence that He will be with us on that day of judgment as well.

We should heed the voice of God within & be transformed daily by directing our mind’s eye to “marvel” at “Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame”. This was truly the “greater work” that we are called to continually marvel at.

Also, John’s epistle closes with a confident & expectant declaration of God’s love for us- in that He has chosen to give us the knowledge of the holy (with all due respect to AW Tozer).

1Jn 5:20-21 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

Praise God, He blesses His elect with all the understanding they need to avert the day of God's wrath.

1 comment:

Zoarean's Purse said...

Post script to my class of 7/27- Please consider my clarified synopsis of 1 John, chapter four's revelation of the glorious inequality of God's love for & in His beloved, in comparison with the natural man's love.

"We ourselves react with His marvelous love, & thereby prove out His presence with us today- greatly increasing our faith, & therefore our confidence that He will be with us on that day of judgment as well."

I think this states my thoughts better than the shorter statement on the handout.