“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:9-11
I read this recently and began to meditate on it, thinking through what this passage really means. As the Lord brought my attention to the phrase, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you…”, I thought, “Wait, Jesus WAS God, He is a part of the perfect Trinity." The Father loved Him in perfection, as part of Himself. Now, we know that Scripture says, “Love your neighbor as yourself” and understand that in a normal, healthy person, one cherishes and cares for oneself. However, if we’re talking about the perfect, holy God of the universe, loving Jesus as Himself, that’s perfect love to the nth degree! And Jesus says that’s how He loves US! He loves us in perfection! There is such depth and richness in His love for us! Jesus says for us to abide in that love, to stay in that love, to be refreshed in that love, remind ourselves of that love. That’s amazing!
OBEY Jesus goes on to say, “...keep my commandments, you will abide in my love…”. Because of that perfect love, Jesus understood His Father’s heart and did whatever the Father asked Him to do because He knew it was coming from a place of perfect love. There was nothing that the Father asked Jesus to do that wasn’t coming from love.
Now, I know for me, with my children, there’s a lot of things that I ask them to do that do NOT come from a place of love. Sometimes it comes from a place of frustration, sin, selfishness, a place of putting my agenda over their needs. That is not what this verse is talking about! This is a perfect love that has every good thing in mind, not only for us as God’s children, but for His purpose and plan as a whole.
Hard Things Verse 11 says, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” Now, if we go back and think about Jesus obeying His Father's commands, that includes going to the cross. God’s perfect love for us doesn’t mean that everything will go “well” for us on this earth. This doesn’t mean that God won’t ask us to do “hard” things, to “die”, whether physically, emotionally, or mentally.
So, when Jesus said, “Just as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you…” it may not mean what we think (or wish) it to mean. Look at Christ’s life. He was rejected by His family, by His hometown, by His friends. He didn’t have any place to live. He was surrounded by poor, sick, possessed, and diseased people. He often went without sleep. He had no income, so to speak, from a job or career. He had been trained in carpentry and left it do something that, in everyone else’s mind, had no future. He made the religious people of His day angry, and they wanted to kill Him. He was accused of inciting riots. Most people who followed Him, left Him; He had no large following. Then, in the end, He went and died on a cross; the most horrific death you could die. And yet, He says that His Father loves Him and that He loves us the same way.
So what does this say for us? It says that God’s perfect love looks a lot different than the love we see around us in our world. It says that God’s calling on our lives could look a lot different than the picture of “Christianity” we are fed in the western world.
God’s love for you doesn’t mean that everything is going to go well for you. God’s love for you doesn’t mean that your life will be smooth and easy. God’s love for you doesn’t mean that your job will be secure, that your children will be perfect, that your parents won’t get sick as they get older, it doesn’t mean any of those things. Why? Because those things are temporal. In this world, those seem like everything, but in all reality, they are nothing in comparison to eternity.
Does God the Father care for us when we’re hurting? Did He care for Jesus as He was agonizing and hurting? Yes! We see that as Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane crying and sweating drops of blood and an angel was sent to strengthen and minister to Him. Yes, God does care for us while we’re hurting! But it doesn’t mean that He won’t ask us to pick up our cross and follow.