“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.
Love is not a new concept. It’s been around since the beginning of time when the Lord created the world, Adam and Eve, and wanted to be in relationship with them.
As I continue my tour in Israel, I have moved from the Galilee region to the Dead Sea. I felt the love of God this morning as I went for a run, watching the sunrise over the hills to the east which the country of Jordan. I sensed a God reaching out to me, loving me, seeking to fulfill even my deepest needs.
Jesus is this God. In John’s Gospel Jesus teaches us about love by saying, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me.” This is a God-head who loves, supports and cares for each other. There’s no spite, vengeful activity or immature reasoning. This God gives and receives loves freely.
Yet Jesus tells us to “remain in his love.” We remain in his love, he says, by obeying his commands. If we disobey, we move out of his love, his blessing and his protection. Jesus remains in the Fathers Iove always. Without question. He remains in the love of the Father by doing what the Father commands.
So what is the benefit of this love? Pure, perfect and complete joy. These things, Jesus tells us, are so that we might “be filled with joy.” “Yes,” Jesus exclaims, “Your joy will overflow!” And it’s from this that we get the meaning and teaching of living in joyful obedience. The more we obey, the more joy we experience in life.
Lastly, Jesus reminds us to “Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” Which for me, at times, can be challenging! My flesh gets in the way of loving others. But the more I love God, obey his commands, the more I will be able to love others and his express his love, plan and purpose to the world.
And so, my Israel tour continues. Today I will go to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem where tradition says Jesus was born. Is there any greater love than this? The love of a God who sent his son to the earth to save us from our sins?
Hallelujah! God is love. Now go and love one another for his glory and by his grace.
“O Lord God, what a joy it is to be your child. What a joy to live in the love of Jesus and to be in this relationship with you. Even when my love fails, your love remains. Even when I fall short, you are forgiving. Come now, Holy Spirit, reveal yourself to us in this your Holy Land. The land of your promise when you showed such an inexpressible love to the world by giving your Son upon the Cross. I love you Lord. Draw near to me as I draw near to you. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen