“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.” (John 3:35).
“For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.” (John 5:20).
“but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.” (John 14:31).
Thus far in our study of Knowing God, we have stipulated that to know God is to know His attributes, which are His personal characteristics. These are those qualities which make God, God. Some of God’s attributes He has chosen to share with His creation. Some of His attributes, He alone possesses.
We have seen that God is self-existent, He makes decisions and is glorious, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, holy, and wrathful. If, of all of God’s attributes, the one which often solicits the most controversy and debate is God’s wrath, then it could also be argued that the attribute of God which is most often misunderstood is His love.
As we have already noted, God’s love is a holy love. It is also a self-sacrificial love of the will. It is not a love like human love which tends to be self-centered, emotionally driven and inconsistent.
God’s love is also a multi-faceted love. This means it is not a love which is singularly directed but rather has multiple objects. We will look for the next couple of days at four biblical examples.
First, there is God the Father’s love for the Son. Several times in the Gospel of John the apostle speaks of the love of the Father for the Son.
John uses the word agape in John 3:35. The word ἀγαπάω (agapao) is a present active verb. It not only means to be self-sacrificial, but also to take pleasure in and have an appreciation for. Jesus makes this statement within the context of His dialogue with Nicodemas.
John also uses the Greek word phileo in John 5:20 which means to have affection for. The word φιλέω (phileo) is also a present active verb. It is a love based upon an interpersonal association. God the Father takes pleasure in and has an interpersonal relationship with God the Son. This statement, also by Jesus, is spoken in the context of Jesus’ healing of the paralytic man by the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-16) and His subsequent discussion with the Jewish leaders who criticized Jesus for healing the man on the Sabbath (John 5:17-21).
Second, there is God the Son’s love for God the Father as explicitly stated in John 14:31. The word for love which Jesus uses is ἀγαπάω (agapao) and is in the present active form. Not only does God the Father take pleasure in and possess an appreciation for God the Son, but the same can be said for God the Son towards God the Father.
Jesus makes this statement during the Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17) with His disciples. This is done during the hours immediately preceding His crucifixion. Jesus’ obedience to Father’s will and commandment demonstrates the Son’s love for the Father.
Jesus reiterates this truth of loving obedience in John 15:9-10 which says, “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.”
Jesus also acknowledges this love the Father and Son have for each other in His High-Priestly Prayer. John 17:26 says, “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
Dr. Don Carson writes, “This intra-Trinitarian love of God not only marks off Christian monotheism from all other monotheisms, but is bound up in surprising ways with revelation and redemption.”
We must not overlook Jesus’ statement to His disciples in John 14:22-24. “Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.”
Jesus’ love for God the Father was demonstrated by His obedience to the Father’s commandment (John 14:31). So also should be our love for the Father and for the Son. If we claim to love God, then obedience to His commandments is evidence of that profession. See I John 2:29, 3:1-9; 10-12; 16-23; 4:7-11; 20-21.
Have a blessed day in loving and knowing God by being obedient to Him.
Soli deo Gloria!