As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you–Joh 15:9
The Love of Christ
That their blessed Master loved them was one thing which the disciples never doubted. It was the crowning glory of their years. There are those who always find it easy to believe that other people love them. They accept love as the flowers accept the sunshine in an entirely natural and happy way. But there are some who find it very hard just to be certain that other people love them, and one or two of the disciples were like that. Our Lord had to deal with very various temperaments in that extraordinary little company. Some were responsive and receptive; others, like Thomas, wanted proof of things. And yet there was one thing that they never doubted through all the change and variableness of the years, and that was that their Master loved them. The fact was evident to every heart, and yet behind the fact they felt a mystery. There was something different in the love of Jesus from all the human love that they had known. No love of wife, nor of any precious child, nor of friend, nor of father nor of mother, fully interpreted the Master‘s love. It did what these had never done. It demanded what these had never asked. It spoke sometimes with an unearthly accent, quite alien from that of human love. They were baffled occasionally, and perplexed, so profoundly new was the experience that came to them in the love of the Lord Jesus. It was then that Jesus made this great comparison that threw such a vivid light on everything. “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you.” And long afterwards, when hours of darkness came and they were tempted to wonder if He loved them still, what comfort must these words have brought them!
His Father’s Love Sent Jesus to Die
They would recall, for instance, how the Father’s love for Christ inspired Him for the service of mankind. It was the Father’s love that sent Him to the world, not to be ministered unto, but to minister. Human love is often prone to selfishness. It wants to grasp the dear one and to keep him. It shrinks from the thought of charging the beloved with any embassy whose end is death. Yet on such an embassy, whose issue was a cross, God sent not an angel, but His Son–and the Son was certain that the Father loved Him. Inspiring all His service for mankind, quickening Him for every lowly ministry, holding Him to His appointed task, was His profound conviction of His Father’s love. And then, on that last night of earthly fellowship, He turned to His disciples with the words, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you.” How these words would come back to them again in their evangelization of the world! It was love that had given them their work to do, no matter how difficult or perilous. And to find in our work, however hard it be, an argument for the love of the Lord Jesus is one of the quiet triumphs of the spirit. His is not a love that gives us ease, any more than the love of the Father gave Him ease. It sends us out, morning after morning, to a service which may be only drudgery. And what illumines duty and warms its chilly hands and brings a song into the heart of it is the certainty of love behind it all. It made all the difference to Christ that the Father’s love had given Him the task. It made the task a love-gift and touched it as with the joy of heaven. And then He says to all His toiling followers in every century and country, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you.”
The Father’s Love Did Not Exempt Jesus from Suffering
They would recall again how the Father’s love for Christ did not exempt Him from the sorest suffering. He was the well-beloved Son, yet a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. If there be one thing we all crave to do, it is to shield our loved ones from the sting of pain. That passion is in the heart of every mother as she clasps to her breast her little child. Yet here was the love of the Father for the Son, that gave the Son, and did it quite deliberately, to bitter suffering ending in a cross. Often when our beloved suffer we are powerless. We know the agony of being helpless. We have to witness excruciating pain, impotent to do anything that might relieve it. But the Father, clothed in His omnipotence, with a single word could have put an end to suffering–and yet He loved His Son and did not do it. I wonder if the disciples thought of that when afterwards they recalled this word of Jesus. Stoned, shipwrecked, persecuted, tortured–could it be possible their Master loved them still? And then, clear as a silver bell, these words would strike upon their ears again, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you.” He was loved, and yet He suffered sorely. He was loved, and yet His face was marred. He was loved with an everlasting love, and yet all the billows of this mortal life went over Him. What an unspeakable comfort for these gallant souls, tempted through suffering to piercing doubts, this as and so of the Lord Jesus. All God’s children must remember that when they are tempted so to doubt the love of heaven. Have not many cried beside some bed of agony, “How can God be love if He permits this?” In such an hour argument is powerless, but there is one Voice that is never powerless. It is His who suffered–and was loved.
The Father’s Love Triumphed in the Resurrection and Ascension
They would recall, too, that the Father’s love for Christ was a love that justified itself at last. There came at last the hour of resurrection and of ascension to the right hand in heaven. Was it love that gave Him to the earth? It was love that lifted Him above the earth. Was it love that permitted Him to suffer? It was love that crowned His sufferings in glory. The final issue of the Father’s love was not the quietness of a garden-grave. It was song; it was dominion; it was liberty. What a magnificent hope for these disciples, persecuted and in prison. What a magnificent hope for every disciple just when things are growing unendurable! A little patience and the love that grips us is going to justify itself magnificently. That is bound, as with hoops of steel, to the as and so of the Lord Jesus.