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Shape of Love: The Cross | John 15:9-14 Lesson


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True, crucial love looks like the Cross (Latin: crux). It consists of a vertical component (obedience to God in Christ) as well as horizontal component: self-sacrificially striving for another's ultimate good. We should love Jesus and love like Jesus because He first loved us

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Shape of Love: The Cross | John 15:9-14 Lesson

  2. 2. WHAT IS LOVE? WHAT DOES LOVE LOOK LIKE? • In our culture, it seems that toss around the word “love” quite a bit: • Anyone “love” food? • Anyone “love” clothing? • Anyone “love” a pair of shoes? • Anyone “love” a sports team? • Anyone “love” a singer/artist? • Anyone “love” a car? • Anyone “love” a house? • We “love” things that give us pleasure!
  3. 3. HAVE WE WATERED DOWN “LOVE”? • We love what makes us feel good • Thus, we may think that to love someone is to please someone – to make them feel good • “If you love me…” • you would buy me a new phone • you would support my dreams • you should “want what I want for myself” • Is this what love is? What is the true crux of love?
  4. 4. THE CRUX OF LOVE • Crux: the central, most important, most essential point of a certain matter (Merriam-Webster’s) • Crux: the Latin word for cross (Merriam-Webster’s).  crucifixion, excruciating, crucial • When considering love, perhaps we should consider the crux of history • Crucial (Cross-Shaped) Love • Vertical: Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment (Mt 22:37, NIV cf. Dt. 6:5) • Loving obedience to God • Horizontal: And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mt 22:39, NIV cf. Lev 19:18) • Self-sacrificially striving for another’s ultimate good
  5. 5. JOHN 15:9-14 (NIV) • 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command (Jn 15:9-14, NIV)
  6. 6. CONTEXT: THE VINE AND THE BRANCHES • In the OT, the nation of Israel was often referred to metaphorically as a vine or a vineyard (Ps. 80:8–16; Is. 5:1–7; 27:2f; Jer 2:21; 12:0-11; Ezk. 15:1–6; 17:1-6;19:10– 14; Hos 10:1-2 cf. Guthrie, 1056; Burge, 860; Milne, 219) • 8 You transplanted a vine from Egypt; / you drove out the nations and planted it. / 9 You cleared the ground for it, / and it took root and filled the land. / 10 The mountains were covered with its shade, / the mighty cedars with its branches. / 11 Its branches reached as far as the Sea, / its shoots as far as the River. (Ps 80:8- 11, NIV) • 21 I had planted you like a choice vine / of sound and reliable stock. / How then did you turn against me / into a corrupt, wild vine? (Jer 2:21, NIV) • Israel had failed to be the vine – the pipeline – through whom God would bless all nations (Gen 12:2-3 cf. Ps 80:16, Is 49:6; Milne, 219)
  7. 7. JESUS: THE TRUE VINE • Jesus claims to be the True Vine; to remain in Him is to become a part of the true Israel – the true people of God (Guthrie, 869) • “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener (Jn 15:1, NIV) • 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (Jn 15:5, NIV) • If a branch doesn’t remain connected to the vine, it cannot bear fruit. It no longer has life • Jesus urges His disciples to remain (connected) in His love
  8. 8. THE BASIS OF LOVE • 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. (Jn 15:9, NIV) • Jesus is not saying that He loves His disciples in the exact same way as the Father loves Him (Kruse, 315) • The Father has loved the Son since before the creation of the world (Jn 17:24) • The Father places everything in the Son’s hands (Jn 3:35) • The Father also loves the Son because Jesus lays down His life – and is raised again (Jn 10:17) • Jesus is saying that His love His disciples is based on the Father’s love for Him (Michaels, 210). • The love of God is distributed to the disciples through Christ (Klink, 655) • Like a branch needs to remain connected to a vine, Christ’s disciples need to remain connected to Christ
  9. 9. VERTICAL LOVE: OBEDIENCE TO GOD • 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (Jn 15:10, NIV) • Not necessarily mystical, but practical (cf. Milne, 221-22; Morris, 597; Keener, 1003) • Jesus: Do as I say, and do as I do: obey (cf. Jn 5:19f.; 6:38; 8:29, 55; 12:27-18;Carson, 520) • Jesus does “exactly what the Father has commanded [Him]” (Jn 14:31, NIV) • 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work (Jn 4:34, NIV) • Climax: 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (Jn 10:17-18, NIV cf. Beasley-Murray, 273)
  10. 10. JESUS SETS THE STANDARD • Jesus sets the standard and tells His followers to do as He does (Keener, 1003) • 15 “If you love me, keep my commands” (Jn 14:15, NIV) • 23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching…” (Jn 14:23a, NIV) • 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Jn 13:34-35, NIV) • Lovingly obeying Christ’s commands should be our Christian ID Card (Pastor Scotton) • Our obedience will never be perfect, but it should be persistent (cf. Morris, 599)
  11. 11. IF ONE DOES NOT OBEY, IS ONE NOT LOVED? • By no means! 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Rom 5:8-10, NIV; Borchert, 149) • 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son… (Jn 3:16a, NIV) • Yet, how can one fully experience the depth of their parents’ love if they run away? • I wanted to run away and do my own thing; I thought my mother was “mean” • How could I fully experience the depth of my mother’s love – that she freely gives – if I ran away from home? How can we fully experience the depth of our Heavenly Father’s love – that He freely gives – if we run away from Him?
  12. 12. IS THIS “LOVE”? • Is Jesus just saying, “if you love me, you should do what I want”? • Love also entails self-sacrificially striving for another’s ultimate good • Sometimes we say, “I gotta do what’s best for me” – assuming we actually know what’s best for us • I made a healthcare decision that I thought was best for me. But, it actually turned out not to be for the best in the long-term • Ever make made a short-term decision that didn’t work out in the long-term? • God, in His perfect knowledge (Ps 94:10-11; Psalm 139; 1 Jn 3:20, etc.) is the only One qualified to know what’s for our ultimate good • And, God actively strives for our ultimate good (cf. Rom 8:28)If God knows what is best for us and strives for what is best for us, does it not make sense to do what God says – so we can enjoy what is best for us?
  13. 13. JOYFUL OBEDIENCE? • 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete (Jn 15:11, NIV) • At first glance, obedience doesn’t sound like too much fun? • We Americans love our independence. We like to do what we want • But keeping Christ’s commands ought to bring us joy (cf. Ps 19:8; 119:97 Keener IVP) • If God is the source of all joy, happiness, satisfaction… why look elsewhere? • Jesus experiences joy by obeying the Father, followers experience joy by obeying Jesus (cf. Jn 4:34; Kruse, 316) • Lovingly obeying God should not be a burden, but a blessing (Klink, 656)
  14. 14. HORIZONTAL LOVE: SELF-SACRIFICIALLY STRIVING FOR ANOTHER’S GOOD • 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. (Jn 15:12- 14, NIV) • Just as Christ will sacrifice Himself for their ultimate good, His disciples are to sacrifice themselves for the good of each other • 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters (1 Jn 3:16, NIV) • Horizontal love: self-sacrificially striving for another’s ultimate good
  15. 15. OBEDIENCE: THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR? • Who has “friends” that obey them? • Several levels of friendship in the 1st century Greco-Roman world (Keener, IVP), which were not as mutual as friendships today (Kruse, 217) • Don’t we give different people different levels of access to us? (e.g., screening calls). Don’t we only share certain things with certain people? We don’t just tell anyone our business! • 1st century: “friends” were often confidantes (Keener, 1010-15; Beasley-Murray, 274- 75) • 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you (Jn 15:15, NIV cf. Keener, 1013-15) • 11 The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend (Ex 33:11, NIV) • Such friends have more intimate access, yet they still obey (Carson, 523; Guthrie, 1057)
  16. 16. DID JESUS DIE ONLY FOR HIS FRIENDS? • By no means! • Again, God loved the entire world in this way: that He sent His only Son (Jn 3:16) • Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Rom 5:8) and enemies of God (Rom 5:10) • All who put their faith (i.e., active trust) in Jesus can become a “friend” of God • Jesus just happens to be talking to His friends when explaining the greatest act of love: self-sacrifice
  17. 17. LOVE: MORE THAN A FEELING • Isn’t it easy to love people when they are acting lovable? • True love entails loving action – even when we don’t feel like it! • Tina Turner: love is a “second-hand emotion.” She’s concerned with physical attraction • Drake: KiKi, do you love me? Are you riding? Say you’ll never ever leave from beside me • Though Drake asks several other young ladies the same question, he understands that love is about more than feelings – it entails action • Anyone can say “I love you.” But we show love by what we do, by how we act.
  18. 18. THE GREATEST LOVING ACTION: SELF-SACRIFICE • Is there someone in your life for whom you would do almost anything? • Who do you love? How far would you go for someone you love? • I bet most of us would go to great lengths to save someone we loved who was in danger
  19. 19. THE GREATEST LOVING ACTION: THE CROSS • On a much larger scale, isn’t this what Jesus did for us? • Weren’t we in spiritual danger? • Didn’t he endure an excruciating death on the cross? • Since He first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:19), shouldn’t we demonstrate our love to Christ? • Love and joy are fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) who is lovingly given to us by God (Jn 15:25; 16:12-15; Ti 3:5-6; 2 Cor 1:22, etc.) • Full circle: it is the love of God that enables us to love God • We just have to stop running away from our Father, and run to Him
  20. 20. THE SHAPE OF LOVE ✝ CONCLUSION • What is love? What does love look like? • True, crucial love is shaped like the cross (crux) • Vertical love: joyful, loyal obedience to God in Christ • Horizontal love: actively, self-sacrificially striving for another’s ultimate good • Christ sets the standard for both dimensions; there is no greater love than His • Fruitless to talk about love for God without obedience… (Turner cf. 1 Jn 5:3) • Remaining independent from God vs. remaining in dependence on God (Turner) • We should love Jesus because He first loved us (1 Jn 4:19)
  21. 21. BIBLIOGRAPHY Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, Walter Bauer, and F. Wilbur Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. Beasley-Murray, George R. John. Vol. 36. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002. Borchert, Gerald L. John 12–21. Vol. 25B. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002. Burge, Gary M. “John.” In Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, 3:840–80. Baker Reference Library. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995. Carson, D. A. The Gospel according to John. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991. Guthrie, Donald. “John.” In New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, edited by D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, and G. J. Wenham, 4th ed., 1021–65. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994. Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary & 2. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012. Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993. Klink, Edward W., III. John. Edited by Clinton E. Arnold. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016. Kruse, Colin G. John: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 4. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003. Merriam-Webster, Inc. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003. Michaels, J. Ramsey. The Gospel of John. The New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010. Milne, Bruce. The Message of John: Here Is Your King!: With Study Guide. The Bible Speaks Today. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993. Morris, Leon. The Gospel according to John. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995. Silva, Moisés, ed. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014. Turner, David. “Gospel of John, Session 17 -- The Farewell Discourse 3: Abiding in Christ and Witnessing to the World (John 15:1 – 16:15.” Copywright, David Turner and Ted Hildebrandt, 2018. August 2, 2018.