Jesus said: “As the Father has loved Me, so I have 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.”
The love that the Father has for His Son is nearly incomprehensible. To speak of how the Persons of the Holy Trinity interact with one another is an awesome thing, and it stretches mortal minds to their limits. But the Lord God has revealed the love that He shares. Jesus speaks about the love His Father has for Him in ways that humanity can understand.
The love that the Father has for His Son is eternal: it has no beginning and has no end. The Father has always loved His Son, just as He has always given existence to His Son. He desires His Son to be and continues to sustain Him. It is an eternal generation, as Proverbs states: “The Lord possessed Me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. From everlasting I was established, form the earliest times of the earth. When there were no depths I was begotten, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills I was begotten.” Forever and ever the Father has loved His Son.
As the Father has given His Son existence, He also shows His love to His Son in many ways. The Father gives the Son His authority. The Father entrusts His creatures to the Son’s care. The Father declares to the entire world that He has joy in His Son: “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The Father restores His Son to life after His sacrificial death for sinners like you. And as the Son has fulfilled the Father’s commands, the Father welcomes Him to be seated at His Right Hand for all eternity. The Father provides an eternal feast to celebrate the victory of His Son.
This love which the Father shows to His Son is selfless, not seeking anything in return. It is given freely to the Son. It is not an exchange of feelings, but the demonstration of favor that the Father has for His Son. And that favor which the Father has is confirmed by what His Son does: He keeps His Father’s commands—including the command to lay down His life—and He abides in His Father’s love as He finds His existence in it.
But that type of love which the Father shows His Son is completely foreign to you by nature. Certainly fathers show similar love to their sons. You know of proud fathers who praise their sons. You know of fathers who entrust their property to their sons. You know of fathers who hold great banquets in celebration of their sons and their achievements. But that is human-to-human love, and it is always imperfect. The type of love that the Eternal Father shows to the Eternal Son is not directly shown to humanity. The Father does not love the world in the same way that He loves His Son . . . until His Son shows that love to the world.
This is why Jesus says: “As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Abide in My love.” Through the work of the Son divine love is shown to humanity. Jesus is telling His followers: “You heard Me talk about the selfless love that My Father has shown to Me. That is the type of love that I show to you. And I am going to demonstrate it in concrete ways for you to see.” Everything that the Father has given to the Son will be given by the Son to His people.
Jesus says: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.” That greatest love, the full expression of selflessness that Jesus makes, is what His disciples receive. The Son lays down His life for His friends. He does this, so that He can be their source of life, just as the Father is the source of His existence. The Son gives His people His authority to can proclaim His goodness, just as the Father gave the Son His authority to speak everything about Him. The Son declares His people to be forgiven and clean and righteous, just as His Father said that He was well pleased with His Son. All of this is the divine love that is shown by the Son to you, the indirect way that the Father loves you.
It is important for you to know this love. Jesus says: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Your joy is to be found in the divine love that the Father shows His Son and that the Son shows to you. And it makes sense that it is so. Selfless love is not common. You know times when you have shown it, but just as many times when you have not. You know that you are not a deserving object of common love, let alone selfless love, as your faults cause rifts in relationships and bring nothing in return.
But Jesus says: “As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Abide in My love.” He knows that you are undeserving, and yet He still show selfless love to you. He knows that you really have nothing of value to give in exchange for His actions, and yet He lays down His life for you. The Son does these things, so that He can find joy in having His own people, in having things which are connected to Him. He finds joy in being the source of your existence, just as His Father found joy in being the source of His Son’s life by eternally begetting Him.
Jesus tells you: “Abide in My love.” He wants to have joy in you, as His acts redeem you. By abiding in His love, your sins are absolved, you are given everlasting life, your salvation is delivered to you. Trusting in what Jesus has done for you, you abide in His love and you have life in Him. That is why the Apostle John writes: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of Him.” Faith in the love that Jesus shows by laying down His life for you is the source of your new life. That is how your joy will be full, as you are given something greater than what you could ever achieve or obtain.
Because you have been shown that selfless love by the Son and have been given life by it, you now are able to show the same to others. Jesus’ teaching says that in the same way the Father loves Him, so He loves you. But it also says that in the same way the Son has loved you, so you also love one another. This is why He can say: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” It is not a vain command. There is a divine capability given to you by the Son similar to the authority, power, and ability that the Father has given to Him.
Jesus gives the instruction to love. But He tells you why He gives such command: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit may abide.” The Son has chosen you to follow Him. He has chosen you to be the object of His selfless, divine love. He has sacrificed Himself for you, in order to remove your sins, to be the source of your life, to deliver you from death and destruction. Because He has done so, you are now able to go and show love to one another, even without expecting anything in return.
Remember how the Father is the source of the Son’s existence? The Son is the source of your life. So likewise, you can be the source of life for each other. This is so for parents, but also as you are all called to “help and support your neighbor in every physical need.”
Remember how the Father entrusted people to His Son and gave authority to His Son to oversee them? The Son has also entrusted people to you, placing you in relationship with one another. So likewise, you have people under your care. You are called to serve and protect them.
Remember how the Father praised His Son, calling Him beloved and pleasing to Him? The Son has also praised you, declaring you to be righteous. So likewise, you can commend one another. You are called to “defend you neighbor, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest possible way.”
Remember how the Father has given the Son knowledge about Himself? Jesus also said: “All that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”? So likewise, the Son has given you knowledge about Himself. You are called to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light,” so that others may know it, that others may know the Son’s love.
All of this is included in Jesus’ statement: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.” It is a command, but at its root is what the Son has already done: “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you.” At the heart of the whole matter is the eternal love that the Persons of the Triune God have for one another. That is what has been shown to you by the Son’s work. So you are saved, being born of God and loved by Him. That is what you now know; so now you can show it to one another.
T In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.