The Greek word for the kind of love Jesus is speaking of here, agape, means “unconditional love.” It is the type of love that puts the needs of others ahead of one’s own needs. Agape love is sacrificial in nature and best demonstrated for us in Jesus’ self-sacrificing death.
In this Gospel reading, Jesus makes an interesting statement. He says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (NIV). Understand the magnitude of this statement! Jesus is saying that the love that God the Father has for Jesus is the same type of love that Jesus has for each of us!
There are additional implications to Jesus’ claim of unconditional love, and it’s here that things get a bit difficult. Although God loved Jesus greatly, Jesus suffered an agonizing death for our sins. Jesus faced betrayal and abandonment by his closest friends. He was mocked and beaten by Roman soldiers. He spent six painful hours on a cross. His eyes closed in death as he breathed his last breath.
Jesus asks us to “take up [our] cross daily and follow" him (Luke 9:23, NIV). While this act may look different for each of us, the idea is that we too must demonstrate agape love. Perhaps this love will be shown in how we give of our time or finances. Maybe it will be demonstrated in the way we serve those in need within our community. It might even be the actual laying down of our life for a friend.
Agape love is amazing, but it does not come without a price. God gave us his son, Jesus, who gave his life for us. We too are called to bear our cross as we serve those around us.
Dearest Jesus, thank you for the love you have shown us. May we take up our cross in love for others. Amen.
The Acts passage continues to tell the story of the advance of the gospel. The Holy Spirit falls on a group of Gentiles. They believe and are baptized, thus showing God’s inclusion of all peoples in the plan of salvation. Psalm 98 is a simple declaration of praise. All creation will sing to and rejoice in the Lord. The two passages from John are linked by their emphasis on the relationship between love and obedience. We do not follow God’s commandments in order to make God love us. On the contrary, because God has first loved us and we love God in return, we follow God’s teachings. Jesus provides the model for us, being obedient to his Father out of love.
Read Acts 10:44-48. When has the Spirit of God brought you to a new understanding?
Read Psalm 98. Where have you encountered “a joyful noise” in creation? How do you make a joyful noise in praise of God?
Read 1 John 5:1-6. When have you considered God’s commands as burdensome? When have you found them freeing?
Read John 15:9-17. Are you accustomed to thinking of your relationship with Jesus as a mutual friendship? If so, what does it mean to you to be Jesus’ friend?
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