CAN YOU IMAGINE TRUE LOVE?
Do you know someone who really loves you? Isn’t that great? Of course it is. We are all built with the innate desire to love and be loved. Who is it? Think about that person and get them into your mind. Now, imagine if they had perfect wisdom, never-ending resources, and ultimate stamina. Imagine if they had infinitely pure motives, meaning, they aren’t loving you merely to get you to love them back and, thus, they’re loving you only to make themselves happy. Imagine if they loved you with a one-way love, and they would stop at absolutely nothing to love you, no matter how much it hurt them or cost them. It’s hard for us to imagine that kind of True Love, but it is reality for those who are in Christ. Friends, this is the love of Jesus for his church. The Apostle Paul, who used to be a Christian-killer, was saved by Jesus by his grace. Paul was so aware of Jesus’ grace and love for him that he said this in a letter to the church at Rome, “Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” Likewise, the Apostle John, who used to be an ordinary fisherman, called himself “The beloved disciple” because he was so in touch with the reality of Jesus’ love.
If you are in Christ, through living faith and trust in the living Jesus, you are loved by Jesus. If you are not in Christ, if you have not yet turned from your sin to trusting in the living Jesus for salvation, then you have to know this: sin is a real problem and Jesus is a real Savior. He is alive. He lived for righteousness, died for sin, and resurrected for salvation to secure eternal joy for all who would cast their trust on him. So, non-Christian, we call you, for your joy, to be forgiven by trusting in Jesus. Receive power to live a new life, be adopted into the family of God, receive an eternal purpose all by receiving life from Jesus. It’s all grace. We don’t deserve it. This is the good news of the gospel: Jesus took everything that we deserve so that he could give us everything that he deserves. He has done it. He calls you to turn from setting your hopes on the fleeting pleasures of sin, to setting your hopes on him, who who is, what he’s done, and what he’s promised to do!
For you joy, I would like to point you to four ways that Jesus loves us, his church. My hope is that through swimming deep in the love that Jesus has for us, joy would flood your heart to delight in Jesus, and strength would fill your bones to serve Jesus.
1. JESUS WAS LOVING US BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD
EPHESIANS 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”
The point is this: there was nothing good in us. No foreseen goodness, no “I think they can do better”, no “they have such potential”, nothing in us that God saw that moved him to choose us. It’s all grace- God’s sovereign choice and sovereign gift. We were his enemies and would’ve continued in our rebellion, so before the foundation of the world God the Father chose us in God the Son- Jesus, to be adopted into his family by grace through faith. Grace is not receiving from God what we are not deserving of; Grace is receiving God what we were ill-deserving of. Let us press this issue further. It is not simply that we didn’t deserve forgiveness, a new life, joy, freedom, and a redeemed relationship with the living Jesus; the point is that we were ill-deserving of it, meaning, we deserved the exact opposite. We deserved condemnation, death, wrath, slavery, and separation from Jesus forever. That’s why this message of Jesus’ love for sinners is called “Good News” (gospel). The gospel says that Jesus took what we deserved (extreme death), to give us what we could not earn (never-ending life), all because he and the Father set our before the foundation of the world to redeem sinners and make them sons. Grace. Grace. Grace.
2. JESUS WAS LOVING US ON THE CROSS
1 JOHN 3:16 “By this we know love, that he (Jesus) laid down his life for us.”
ROMANS 5:5 “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Sin is cosmic treason. It’s cosmic treason because it is against the Creator of everything that is- the Sovereign and only God- the God of the Bible. Since sin is cosmic treason, the consequences of sin are cosmic– namely, wrath, and eternal judgement and separation from all that is good (God himself). This is why we needed Jesus to live and die in our place. There was a high penalty for sin and it was too high for us to be able to pay.
On the cross, Jesus Christ was taking on himself the sin, judgement, punishment, condemnation, shame, guilt, hostility, and wrath of God that sinners have earned and justly deserve. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:5). The cross of Jesus is likely more physical pain than anyone else has experienced in the history of the world, but the cross was about far more than physical pain. The cross was about Jesus trading places with sinners, so that sinners could trade places with him. Jesus died so that those who, by grace, trust in him would be adopted into God’s family as a son. “By this we know love, that he (Jesus) laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16).
3. JESUS IS LOVING US RIGHT NOW
ROMANS 8:34 & 37 “(Christ Jesus) is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us… We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
Jesus not only loved us before the foundation of the world, not only loved us on the cross, but is loving us now. He is alive! He did not stay dead. He resurrected from death to eternal life. Death and sin have no power over him! He lived another 40 days on the earth, teaching and preaching, then he ascended to the right hand of God the Father in heaven. Right now, Jesus is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. We are more than conquerers through him who loved us. “More than conquerors” means that whatever satan throws at us, and whatever failures we may have, because Jesus loved us on the cross and is lovingly interceding for us, we are more than conquerers in him.
Practically, Jesus’ right now and always intercession means that you woke up this morning and you’ll wake up tomorrow morning still believing in Jesus because Jesus is lovingly interceding for you. You woke up today and you’ll wake up tomorrow with new mercies, still being forgiven of past, present, and future sin, because Jesus is lovingly interceding for you. You woke up today and you’ll wake up tomorrow with available power, through the Holy Spirit, to say no to sin and to say yes to righteousness, because Jesus is lovingly interceding for you. What grace and love in Christ Jesus! He is loving us right now.
4. JESUS WILL LOVE US TO THE END
PHILIPPIANS 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
If Jesus has began a good work in you, saved you from sin and death to freedom and life by forgiving you and adopting into God’s family, then he has sent the Holy Spirit to live in you. The Holy Spirit gives us a new heart, convicts us of sin, keeps us focussed on Jesus, helps us say no to sin and yes to Jesus, and is the “down-payment” of the inheritance we will receive at the end of time, when Jesus finally makes “all things new.” In Philippians 1:6, Paul is not being sentimental or saying something like, “I really hope Jesus will love you to the end.” Paul is saying, “IF! he has began a good work in you… he will bring it to completion.” Friends, Jesus will bring us to completion. Sin will be no more. Death will be no more. Sorrow will be no more. Tears of heartache will be no more. The effects of sin will be no more. Only joy. Only righteousness. Only Jesus. And Jesus satisfies. Trust him. Keep trusting him.
This is the love you’ve been looking for your entire life. This is True Love. It’s Jesus.
This is the love that Edward Cullen or Jacob Black could never provide (they’re not even real! And even if they were, they couldn’t provide the love that your heart is truly longing for). This is the love that your husband or wife could never live up to. If you’re setting your hopes on someone, besides the risen Jesus, you will continue to be extremely disappointed. Only Jesus loves with the ferocity of True Love. And Jesus satisfies.
So, what should we do with this love? This is what I told you from the get-go: My hope is that through swimming deep in the love that Jesus has for us, joy would flood your heart to delight in Jesus, and strength would fill your bones to serve Jesus. For you joy, and the glory of God, drink deep of the love of Jesus. Let Jesus’ True Love for you compel you to love Jesus, by obeying him, and love others, by seeking their good no matter the cost. Keep your eyes open, your hands outstretched, and your heart focussed on the love of Jesus.
Always seeking your joy,