I’ve been asked why I write so much about God’s love and not His other attributes. Isn’t that giving an unbalanced view of God? I would disagree because love is not an attribute of God, for God is love. To write about God is to write about love.
Love is viewed as weakness by those who have not been reshaped by the Father’s heart. They see strength just like the world sees strength…in a Rambo-like, retributive, triumphalist, militaristic “god.” Ironically, dying on a cross would also be considered weakness by this same religious worldview. This was true in Jesus’ day. It’s still true today.
By looking at the immediate context (John 3:14-21), we’ve already established that one of the reasons the Father sent Jesus was to bring us out of our self-condemnation and hiding in order to heal us and make us His own, not to punish Jesus so He could forgive us. It was we who punished Jesus and poured out our wrath on Him.
It was because of love!
Jesus came because of love. And Love forgives because He knows our frame and remembers that we are but dust (Psalm 103:14). He forgives because He knows, apart from Jesus, Adam’s alienated heart has never truly known God (Matt.11:27; John 1:18); we have not known the Father’s love, therefore we know not what we do (Luke 23:34). This love is more powerful than our guilt-ridden sin-consciousness.
This love throws a party and fully restores when we expect punishment and disinheritance (Luke 15:22-31).
This love says “peace to you” when we expect retaliation and disqualification for our betrayal and cowardice (John 20:26; 21:15-17)
Jesus came because God so loved.
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 *)
The first thing we see here is that God so loved the world. The Greek word for “world” (κόσμος, or kosmos) means, in this context, the inhabitants of the planet…all seven billion people and counting (see also 1 John 2:2). That includes you and me.
The second thing we need to see presents a problem for us “head” followers of Christ.
How does God so love?
God’s love is not something you can fully comprehend with your mind. It can only be fully received by your heart. This is what Paul meant when he prayed that we would “know” something that goes beyond our knowing…
19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph.3:19 *)
Everything in this statement is heart language! This “knowing” must be received by way of revelation, which comes through the heart. This is why saving faith is a heart issue, not a head issue (Rom.10:10). The head understands this love only vaguely.
Let me prove it to you by asking you a couple of questions about John 3:16.
First, how much do you think the Father loves Jesus? What adjective would you use to describe this love? Can your brain even quantify it?
Second, if God so loved you that He gave Jesus, how much does God love you? Can there be any difference between how the Father loves you and how He loves Jesus?
If you doubt that God loves you this way, Jesus pretty much settles the matter…
9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. (John 15:9 *)
23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. (John 17:23 *)
Conclusion: Jesus and the Father love you, and all seven billion people living today, exactly the same way they love each other!
And before we leave Ephesians 3:19, how do you understand being “filled with all the fullness of God“? What would that look like? How full is God? Can you even get your mind around what this means?
See what I mean…heart language.
That they may be with Me where I am
Now we’re beginning to catch a glimpse of why Jesus came. He came because the Father so loved us by giving what was most precious to Him—Jesus. He sent His only begotten Son with whom He has enjoyed unbroken fellowship since before the foundation of the world.
And why was Jesus willing to step into our darkened world and take all of our vitriolic alienation and sin unto Himself? Not because of some cosmic legal requirement, but because He wanted us to enjoy that same unbroken fellowship in the Godhead.
This was Jesus’ fervent desire…
24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24 *)
And we are so not finished with John 3:16, but that will have to wait until next time.