As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you.
“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you.”
A Meditation on John 15:9
I’ve read this verse for almost forty years, but I’m not sure I have let myself hear what Jesus is actually saying.
Why? Because I don’t want to blaspheme, or even come close to it.
No way do I want to dishonor God by crossing that line.
So when I’ve come to John 15:9 over the years in my reading, I think I’ve unconsciously put spiritual asbestos between me and the text. Why? To insulate myself from the radiance and heat of five simple words that are almost too good to be true:
“…so have I loved you.”
Surely He can’t mean…
Think of it—how does the Father love the Son? With absolute, unreserved, everlasting, unwavering, joyful, affectionate, radiant, glorious love beyond all imagining. Words fail. God is love. The Father, Son, and Spirit, by definition, enjoy an eternal state of infinite love within the holy Trinity.
“As the Father has loved Me…”
This is the love for One who is infinitely worthy from One who is infinitely holy. Jesus absolutely deserves it. God joyfully gives it to Him.
But to me? To You?
I realized I have unconsciously softened the words of Jesus, taking them to be a metaphor. You know, the love the Father has for the Son is similar in some ways to the love the Lord has for me. Similar, but obviously, different. It can’t be the same in kind, or if it is, it can’t be the same amount, or intensity, because I’m not Jesus. Only He is worthy of that kind of love.
Wouldn’t it be unthinkable for God to focus the Divine love for the Divine—the love enjoyed within the Trinity between Father, Son, and Spirit—to focus THAT love outside the Divine, toward creatures? Toward you and me? Yes, unthinkable, except for those five words from Jesus:
“…so have I loved you.”
Just contemplating the possibility prompts me to draw back. I want to say along with Peter, “Go away from me, Lord, I am a sinful man.”
I want to say along with Isaiah, “Woe to me, for I am undone. For I am a man of unclean lips.”
Maybe we should give ourselves some slack for being so careful to not be presumptuous about John 15:9. Because we know that our culture is awash in self-centered Christianity. The default human setting is always self, but born-again hearts love giving glory to Christ alone.
So how do we square that with John 15:9?
We let Scripture interpret Scripture. We let God tell us what He meant. God gets to decide what’s blasphemy and what isn’t. So we become like the Bereans and we examine the Scriptures carefully to see what interpretation is correct.
So with my Bible open, I’m asking: How does the Father love Jesus? And how does that line up with how He loves us?
Below are just some of the passages I could have listed. Statements about the Father’s relationship to the Son are in bold. parallel statements about God’s love for us are in italics. (I’ve underlined key words so as not to miss the parallels):
“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.” (John 3:35)
“He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
“The Father glorifies the Son.” (John 8:54)
“…those whom He justified He also glorified.” (Romans 8:30)
“The Father is in Me, and I am in the Father.” (John 10:38)
“In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”
“The Father loves the Son and shows Him all that He Himself is doing.”
“I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)
“Father, …I know that you always hear Me.” (John 11:42)
“Whatever you ask of the Father in My Name, He will give it to you…Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23-24)
“The Father who sent Me has Himself given Me a commandment—
what to say and what to speak.” (12:49)
“As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20:21)
“The Father who dwells in Me does His works.” (14:10)“If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)
“Whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do, and greater works than these will he do.” (John 14:12)
“The Father loves the Son…” (John 3:35)
“You (Father) loved them even as You loved Me.” (John 17:23)
“He is the image of the invisible God,” (Colossians 1:15)
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
“This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)
What if God is right this moment restraining Himself from tearing the sky open over your head and shouting with joy, “This is My beloved child, with whom I am fully pleased?” What if that’s exactly His attitude toward you? What if He delights in you like that?
Jesus is telling us “as the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you.”
Where are the disclaimers warning us not to misunderstand and take all of this too far? Where are the gentle reminders that these statements are not to be taken literally? Why were Jesus and Paul and John and Peter not careful to guard against overzealous interpretation?
Could it be because God has held nothing back?
“…will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
I used to wonder why rulers in the Old Testament would often take an oath, saying to some underling, “I will give you up to half my kingdom…” What king would give half his kingdom? That’s crazy. That makes the other person your equal, doesn’t it? 50/50 partners. Maybe those tales are included in the Bible in part to give us a point of reference.
Because God takes it so much further. Jesus does not say, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s pleasure to give you up to half His kingdom.”
God gives the whole kingdom.
Yes, you may say, but to be given the kingdom means to be given entrance into the kingdom as a subject.
No. it’s far more than that. As co-heirs with Christ, we get what He gets. All of it. We will reign with Him. (2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 20:6).
“The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Revelation 3:21)
Just to stand before the throne of God is honor and glory beyond all imagining. But to sit with Jesus on His Father’s throne?
This is the throne angels can’t even look at. Even the seraphim have to cover their faces before the throne of God.
But we, with uncovered faces, will sit with Him. Facing the same direction. Ruling and reigning with Him.
This is the gospel. This is the good news. This is our destiny in Christ. This is what the cross was for.
Check my math on this– As far as I can tell, the ONLY thing the Lord has withheld from us is divinity itself.
Everything it is possible to give us He has given. Every gift within His omnipotent power to bestow, He has bestowed.
We get it all. As the Father loves Jesus, He loves us. Is it any wonder Christians through the centuries can’t stop singing?
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me who Him to death pursued?
How Can it be?
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
No condemnation now I dread
Jesus and ALL in Him IS MINE
Alive in Him my living head
And clothed in righteousness divine
Bold I approach the eternal throne
And claim the crown through Christ my own
How can it be?
That Thou my God shouldst die for me?
Hear it again, my soul, and rest in this word from Jesus today:
“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you.” (John 15:9)
Glory to God.
Thank You, Lord Jesus.