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Read |John 13:34; Romans 5:6-8|
Somewhere in the world there is a popular song, written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach, declaring over loudspeakers that "What the world needs now, is love sweet love. It's the only thing there's just too little of. What the world needs now is love, sweet love. No, not just for some but for everyone." And I imagine that this song's plea, resonating in the hearts of so many of the world's people, is reaching the ear of God who replies, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34, NIV). "As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34, NIV). Pondering these words, it becomes clear that this new command implies that the following things are already true:
But, what is the nature of this love extended? A footnote to this verse in the Amplified Bible reads, "The key to understanding this and other statements about love is to know that this love (the Greek word agape) is not so much a matter of emotion as it is of doing things for the benefit of another person, that is, having an unselfish concern for another and a willingness to seek the best for another."(John 13:34, AMP). But, God does not leave us only footnotes to guide us in recognizing this love extended, He gives us a picture:
A Picture of Love: Love Extended
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5: 6 - 8, NIV). Witnessing our desperate condition and knowing that our sinful state had cut us off from Him-- who is the source of all life; Knowing that we were powerless in finding our way back to Him--back to life--He sent His only begotten son Jesus on a journey. A journey where Jesus consistently demonstrated an unselfish concern for us. A journey where He sacrificed it all, so we could have a chance at life.
He climbed down the stairs of heaven to earth, wrapped in human flesh. He walked through this earth and showed us the godly standard of love: seeking our best, everywhere He went. He lent His strength to heal, set free and deliver, in spite of the opposition. He was loving us. Then he stepped lower still, when he went from the earth to die a criminal's death on the cross. He knew that to help us, that the son must be lifted up (John 3:13 -15). He knew His humiliation on the cross, for our sins, was the only way to show just how great the Father's love for His creation is. While He was there, He was mocked: "If you are King of the Jews, save yourself!" (Luke 23:37, NIV). They taunted: "Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" (Luke 23: 39, NIV). But, He was not interested with saving Himself. His journey from the splendor of heaven to the ridicule of the cross was about us. He was on a mission: a love mission. And while on that cross, He had on His mind, every soul that has ever passed through this earth and will ever pass through this earth. The Bible says, "For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12: 2, NIV). We were the glory set before Him. He came to rescue us! He was loving us. In fact, it is here that His perfect love is best displayed. For "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (John 15:13, NIV). And yet, His journey was not yet over.
It was not enough for Him to show us His great love, He had to show us that His love could raise us from our dead sinful state unto life. And so, He went lower still: from the cross to the grave. And at the moment when it looked like His choice to love was foolish, He rose. He went from the grave to the sky. He showed us that the result of His unselfish concern was life--life that conquers death! And today, Jesus lives to draw all people unto Him--unto life.
A Invitation: Love is to be Received
If you are reading this message today, you have just received your invitation: your invitation to receive the love that has already been extended to you. The love that didn't wait for you to get wise. The love that showed its fullness in perfect sacrifice on the cross and its power in the resurrection. The love that saw your desperate situation and came low to lift you up--to lift you from death to life. You receive this love, by looking at the picture of His love, then believing and saying, "Thank you Lord Jesus. I know you did it--from heaven to earth, from earth to cross, from cross to grave and from grave to sky--for me."
A Invitation: Love is to be Shared
To those who would receive this love today, and who have already entered into its embrace, there is an expectation. The expectation is that you will open your hearts, full with God's love, and give it to others in the way He first gave it to you:
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for extending such great love to us. Thank you for inviting us into your love. Thank you for filling us with your love. Thank you for giving us opportunities to love. Help us to love as you have loved us. In Jesus' name, amen.
Carolyn Sinclair McCalla is an educator, Christian education youth coordinator, author, singer, workshop and retreat leader, speaker and founder and president of EarthBasic. However, she is first and foremost a daughter of God, with a passion for encouraging women to embrace the fullness of God's love for them in Jesus Christ. You can connect with Carolyn on facebook, Instagram and here.