Recently, while preparing to teach on John 17 at church, I considered this question, “How would Jesus teach this passage to these people?” I considered how he might explain, illustrate, and apply the points I had prepared and the thought hit me, Jesus would want everybody to know how much he loves them.
I’m convinced many, if not all, of us suffer because our understanding of Jesus’ love falls short. Maybe we struggle with sin and assume Jesus is angry with us. We go through a difficult season and assume Jesus is punishing us. We see a bleak future on the horizon and assume Jesus has given up on us. Through the ups and downs of life, our confidence in Jesus’ love for us personally can seem to be under constant attack.
But this is far from the truth clearly taught in God’s Word. The Bible describes the love of God demonstrated in the sending of Christ, the life and death of Christ, and the blessed hope of his soon return (Titus 2:13).
Jonathan Edwards, in his famous sermon, “Heaven Is a World of Love” described God’s love beautifully:
The Apostle tells us that God is love, 1 John 4:8. And therefore seeing he is an infinite Being, it follows that he is an infinite fountain of love. Seeing he is an all-sufficient Being, it follows that he is a full and overflowing and an inexhaustible fountain of love. Seeing he is an unchangeable and eternal Being, he is an unchangeable and eternal source of love….There in heaven this fountain of love, this eternal three in one, is set open without any obstacle to hinder access to it. There this glorious God is manifested and shines forth in full glory, in beams of love; there the fountain overflows in streams and rivers of love and delight, enough for all to drink at, and to swim in, yea, so as to overflow the world as it were with a deluge of love. (The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, 245)
Edwards saw God’s love as an infinite, overflowing, and eternal fountain of love which engulfs the world to come. There is more than enough love for you and everyone else at this ever-flowing fountain. We can only imagine what it will be like to live in such a world of love. A place where the more others know us, the more they genuinely love us. A place free of all jealousy, rivalry, and hatred. A place where God’s love for each us is never hard to experience.
We live in a world where our loves often grow cold and can even turn into hate. But this is never true of God’s love. His love is an everlasting love. It doesn’t change. Our experience of God’s love might increase or decrease through life’s ups and downs, but God’s love itself remains unchanged. This is a sweet comfort to saints who might sometimes wonder if God has ever regretted saving them.
Jesus’ Unfulfilled Desire
The love of Christ for us is exempified in the longing of his heart. Did you know that Jesus has a desire for you that remains unfulfilled? Our Lord prayed, “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). With all his heart, Jesus desires for us to be with him and behold his glory. It gets even better when we consider that our Lord always recieves what he prays for.
Soon Jesus will rejoice as this desire is fulfilled when all his saints throughout every age behold his glory together and are glorified in his presence. On that day, Christ’s fulfilled desire will be the fullness of joy to each of his people. If we knew what Jesus knows about that day, our highest longings would be the same as his. To be with Christ and behold his glory should be our highest desire, our deepest longing, and our most persistent prayer. Praise God that each day brings us one day closer to that one!
Before the great Puritan theologian John Owen died in 1683, he wrote to a friend: “I am going to him whom my soul has loved, or rather who has loved me with an everlasting love, – which is the whole ground of my consolation.” It was not fear that marked Owen’s dying thoughts, but his confidence in the everlasting love of Jesus. Such meditation on Christ’s love is not to be reserved for the hour of death alone but should permeate our lives throughout every season of life.
The Christian is the person who never gets over that profound truth in the simple song many of us grew up singing, “Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so…” Yes, Jesus loves you. He demonstrated it by suffering and dying in your place. He demonstrates it by interceding for you now. And he will demonstrate it by raising you to everlasting life in his presence on the last day. May we know the depths of his love more and more as we await the one who loves us with an everlasting love.