Real Man 3: Mr. Love (Mark 3:17)

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Real Man #3–John, Mr. Love

Part 5 Real Men, from Mark 3:17

Living Genuine Love


Do you remember the book All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten?  The author writes:

“Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.  These are the things I learned:  Share everything.  Play fair.  Don’t hit people.  Put things back where you found them.

“Clean up your own mess.  Don’t take things that aren’t yours.  Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.  Wash your hands before you eat.  Flush.  Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

“Take a nap every afternoon.  When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands and stick together.  Be aware of wonder.  Remember the little seed in the plastic cup.  The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.  Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the plastic cup–all die.  So do we.

“Think of what a better world it would be if we all–the whole world–had cookies and milk about 3 o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blank’ies for a nap.  Or if we had a basic policy in our nations to always put things back where we found them and cleaned up our own messes.

“And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is better to hold hands and stick together.”

All of that feels good, but it is also really misleading.  Sentamentality is often mistaken for love, yet they are often worlds apart.  Love is not a feeling–love is an action.  The apostle John makes that clear in 1 John 3:16 to 18, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”

You say you love Christ, but you prove it by your conduct.  You say you love this church, yet you show it with your service.  You say you love your family, you evidence it by your behavior.  You say you love a person, yet only if you sacrifice for them.  You say you love a guy or gal, only if you do what’s biblical, only if you do what’s best, only if you do what will honor Christ for them.

We are suckers for sentimentality, feelings, emotions, delighting.  In this room, each of us have deceived ourselves at some level into thinking we love others because we care for them, we like them, we get along and we enjoy them.  But we are often far removed from genuinely loving God and sincerely loving others, because love is an action of giving, a sacrifice that benefits another by demonstrating God’s character.

Love isn’t sappy, it’s sacrificial.  Love isn’t flighty, it’s faithful.  Love isn’t weak, or convenient or comfortable.  Love is strong, from deep convictions and a choice of sacrifice.  Do you love?  Let’s find out by opening our Bibles to Mark 3, taking the outline in your bulletin and meeting the disciple of love, the apostle John.  If you are just joining us today, we are working our way verse-by-verse through Mark, and now in chapter 3 we have reached the mid-point of Jesus’s three-plus years of public ministry.

Earlier in chapter 3, the religious leaders want to kill him, and the crowds are so huge Christ can’t minister to all of the people.  So it is at this crucial juncture that Jesus picks His twelve men, and we are studying each of them to understand what a real man is–the kind of men God uses, how to be His man, not her man, an office man, a party man, a hard man, but His man.  To be a real man, to act like a man, to live out the role of men, 1 Corinthians 16:13 says, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”

Thus far we’ve studied verse 16 Peter, Mr. Initiator, then verse 17a James, Mr. Zeal and now today verse 17b John, Mr. Love.  Look at Mark 3:17, “and James, the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means, ‘Sons of Thunder’).”

We all know the apostle John because He wrote so much of the New Testament–he was the human author of a gospel, three letters and the book of Revelation.  Aside from Luke and the apostle Paul, John wrote more of the New Testament than any other author.  We know more about John’s personality and character from his writings than anything else.  We see through his gospel how he views Christ, and we understand through his writings how he sees the church.  But we understand his love as we see him deal with Christ.

He is known as the apostle of love–John is known for his love.  Yet sadly, most Christians have distorted this image over time.  Throughout Church history, artists and writers have given us a skewed image of John, and a distorted image of love.  One historian wrote, “If you imagine John was the way he was often portrayed in medieval art—a meek, mild, pale-skinned, effeminate person, lying around on Jesus’ shoulder looking up at Him with a dove-eyed stare—forget that caricature.  You are wrong.  He was a rugged and hard-edged man, just like the rest of the fishermen—disciples.”

And he was every bit as intolerant, ambitious, zealous, and explosive as his elder brother, James.  After all, Jesus calls Him (verse 17) a son of thunder.  Wimps are not called sons of thunder.  Effeminate men are not associated with the sound of thunder.  Hummingbirds, rainbows and flowers yes—thunder no.  Yet this same thunderous man became the apostle of love–the saint of sacrifice, the apostle of action, the disciple of devotion.

And you desperately need to know how to love like John?  Why?  Because the greatest commandment is to love God and people.  Because if you don’t have love, you’re just a big noise–a gong show.  Because if you don’t show sacrificial love, you’re not filled with the Spirit.  And being in the flesh means you’re either unsaved, or awaiting a spanking from God while you do damage to others.  All genuine Christians love, and work at loving, and grow in loving the Lord and loving others.  But all of us, like John, need to embrace . . .

#1  The struggle to love

Verse 17 says John is the son of Zebedee, a fisherman by trade.  His mother was Salome, who may have been Mary’s sister.  Quite possibly, John was actually a cousin of Jesus.  And John is the younger brother of James.  John is part of the inner circle of intimacy–part of a group that could call themselves the closest earthly friends of Christ—wow.  Peter, Andrew, James and John–two sets of brothers, all passionate for Christ and accomplishing His will on earth.

God intends for your inner circle to be the same–your closest friends, your spouse or future spouse is to be one who is passionate for Christ, and want God’s will in God’s Word through His Church to be accomplished on earth, more than life itself.  Some of you hang with marginal, comfortable, uncertain Christians, and that needs to change.  Your inner circle is to encourage you, admonish you, exhort you, and merely by their intense love for God’s Word, to actually burn you with their passion for Christ.  They should be the ones who know you best and want your best.  They should be in on what is really going on in your heart.  They should know more about you than others do, and see things about you that others miss–like Jesus’s inner circle.

John saw the transfiguration, the raising of Jairus’ daughter, he heard a private discourse about the end of the world with Christ, and was with the Lord during His agonizing prayer in Gethsemane.  Yet even though John became the apostle of love, he didn’t start that way.  John was ambitious, truth-driven, confrontational and proud.

John reminds me of seminarians and leaders I’ve trained–and sadly, John reminds me of me as a younger man.  Full of juice, passionate about truth, in your face about change, tempted to drive the truth in–but short on patience, light on mercy, not enough grace, tenderness, forgiveness and compassion.  If you think I lack those things now, you should have seen me then.  Most assuredly the youngest apostle in the inner circle, John was passionate about truth but light on love.

In fact, the one and only time the gospel writers record John speaking for himself, he displayed his trademark aggressive, self-assertive, impertinent intolerance.  Study Matthew, Mark, and Luke and you’ll discover that John is nearly always named along with someone else–with Jesus, with Peter, or with James.  Only one time does John appear and speak alone.  That was when he confessed to the Lord he had rebuked a man for casting out demons in Jesus’s name, because the man was not part of the official disciple group.

John was capable of behaving in the most sectarian, narrow-minded, unbending, reckless, and impetuous fashion.  He was volatile, brash, aggressive, zealous, and personally ambitious–just like his brother James.  So the place where John speaks alone gives us important insight into his character and growth.

Turn to Mark 9, for here is where we get a rare glimpse of John speaking for himself without James or Peter–this is pure John.  This same incident is also recorded in Luke 9, just before James and John wanted to call down fire and toast the Samaritans.  In both cases, John is displaying an appalling intolerance, elitism, and a lack of genuine love for people.  In the incident with the Samaritans, James and John showed a lack of love for unbelievers.  And here John is guilty of a similar kind of unloving spirit toward a fellow believer.  He forbade the man to minister in Jesus’s name.  Verse 38 says, “Because he does not follow us,”–because he was not officially a member of our gang.

But what is going on here?  Well what has been happening?  To interpret correctly, always look at the context of the passage.  This event where John speaks solo occurred shortly after Jesus’s transfiguration, that glorious mountaintop experience which was witnessed only by the inner circle of three (Peter, James, and John).

In Mark 9:1, Jesus tells the disciples, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”  Of course that sounded like a promise to the disciples that the millennial kingdom would come in their lifetimes.  Yet even today, more than nineteen hundred years after the death of the last disciple, we’re still waiting for the establishment of the millennial/1,000 year kingdom on earth.

So what was this promise about?  Look what happened immediately afterward–it clearly answers that question.  Jesus was promising them a preview of coming attractions.  Three of them would have the privilege of witnessing a brilliant foretaste of glory divine.  They would see a glimpse of the glory and power of the coming kingdom.  It happened less than a week after Jesus promised that some of them would see the kingdom present with power.  Read verse Mark 9:2, “Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them.”

Christ took His three most intimate friends to a mountain where He pulled back the veil of His human flesh so that the very essence of the nature of the eternal God was shining out in blazing brilliance.  Mark 9:3, “and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them.”  Matthew says the sight was so shocking the disciples fell on their faces (Matthew 17:6).

No one on earth had experienced anything remotely like this since Moses caught a glimpse of God’s glory in Exodus 33.  It was an overwhelming experience–it was unimaginable.  To top that off, Mark 9:4 says Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.  According to verse 6 the disciples were so frightened they didn’t know what to say.

Peter, in typical fashion, spoke anyway (verse 5), “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  Peter probably thought the appearance of Elijah and Moses signified the inauguration of the kingdom, and he was eager to make it permanent.  He also seems to have been erroneously thinking of the three of them as a kind of equals, rather than realizing Christ was the one to whom Moses and Elijah had pointed, making Him superior to them.

And so at that very moment, Matthew tells us, while Peter was still speaking verse 7, “Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!’”  This was an amazing, unparalleled and privileged experience for Peter, James, and John. But verse 9 says, “As they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man rose from the dead.”

Can you imagine how difficult that would have been?  They had just witnessed the most incredible thing anyone had ever seen, but they weren’t allowed to tell anyone else about it.  That was tough–so difficult that, after this event, these three disciples were constantly arguing about who was the greatest among them.  What would you do?  The moment you got down from the mountain, you’d say to your brothers and sisters, “I know something you don’t know! Guess where we were?  Guess who showed up?  Do you know what Jesus looks like when you see Him for who He really is?”

They had been given a glimpse of the kingdom.  They’d seen things that never could be seen or known by anyone.  They had a vivid preview of the glory to come.  Can you imagine how difficult it must have been to keep this experience to themselves?  And sadly, it did fuel the debate about who was the greatest.  Later in the chapter in verse 33, Mark says, “They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, ‘What were you discussing on the way?’”

Jesus did not ask because He needed the information–He was looking for a confession.  He knew exactly what they were talking about.  But they were embarrassed.  So verse 34, they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.  It’s not hard to understand how the argument began.  Peter, James, and John, brimming with confidence after their mountaintop experience, surely felt now they had the inside track.

They’d seen things so wonderful they were not permitted even to speak of them.  Mr. Love was full of himself–the greatest.  And each one now was probably looking for some sign he was the greatest of the three, possibly arguing among themselves about things like which one was standing closer to Jesus when He was transfigured, maybe reminding Peter he was rebuked by a voice from heaven, and so on.  This is “loving” John.

But when Jesus asked them what they were arguing about, they instantly grew silent.  They realized they were wrong to debate these things.  Their own consciences obviously were smiting them.  That is why they couldn’t bear to admit what all the fuss was about.

Of course Jesus knew–and He seized the opportunity to teach them once again in verses 35 to 37.  “Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’ 36 Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, 37 ‘Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.’”

They had it backwards.  If they wanted to be first in the kingdom, they needed to be servants.  If they wanted to be truly great, they needed to be more childlike.  Instead of arguing and fighting with each other, instead of putting each other down, instead of rejecting others and exalting themselves they needed to serve.  It was a lesson about love.  First Corinthians 13:4 to 5 says, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.”

Love is manifested in service to one another, not by lording it over each other or controlling others.  This apparently cut John to the heart.  It was a serious rebuke, and John obviously got the message.  This is where we find the only time John speaks in the synoptic gospels—in verse 38, “John said to Him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.’”

This was sectarianism–rebuking a man for ministering in Jesus’s name just because he didn’t belong to the group.  This shows the intolerance of John, a son of thunder.  This was the narrow ambition to have the status all for himself and not share it with anybody else.  Here is a prime example of ministerial pride.

Chuck Swindoll says this:  “It is a curious fact that jealousy is a tension often found among professionals and the highly competent.  You know, doctors, singers, artists, lawyers, business men and women, authors, entertainers, preachers, educators, politicians, and all public figures.  Strange, isn’t it, that such capable folk find it nearly impossible to applaud others in their own field who excel a shade or two more than they?  Jealousy’s fangs may be hidden, but take care when the creature coils . . . no matter how cultured and dignified it may appear.”

Here we see clearly, John was not a passive personality.  He was aggressive.  He was competitive.  He condemned a man who was ministering in the name of Jesus just because the man wasn’t part of the group.  Mr. Love had actually stepped in and tried to shut down this man’s ministry for no other reason than that.

I think John confessed this to Jesus because he was convicted.  I believe he was feeling the sting of Jesus’s rebuke–he was sorry.  Something in John was beginning to change, and he was starting to see his own lack of love as undesirable.  The fact that John made this confession was indicative of the transformation that was taking place in him.  His conscience was bothering him.  He was being tenderized.  He had always been zealous and passionate for the truth, but now the Lord was teaching him to love.  This is a major turning point in his life and thinking.  He was beginning to understand the necessary balance of love and truth.

The kingdom needs men who have courage, ambition, drive, passion, boldness, and a zeal for the truth.  John certainly had all of those things.  But to reach his full potential, he needed to balance those things with love.  John was always committed to truth, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but it is not enough.  Zeal for the truth must be balanced by love for people.  Truth without love is caustic, love without truth is compromise–truth and love together is Christ-like.

Most Christians today, because of the shallowness of teaching going on today, are just as imbalanced as John was, but in the other direction.  They place too much emphasis on the love side and end up compromising truth.  Their Christian lives are led by feelings of love, but all they’re left with is error, clothed in a shallow, tolerant sentimentality.  They talk a lot about love and tolerance, but they utterly lack any concern for the truth.  Therefore even the “love” they speak of is a tainted love.  The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:6 that real love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.”

On the other hand, there are a few who have all their theological ducks in a row and know their doctrine, but are unloving and self-exalting.  All they are left with is truth as cold facts, stifling and unattractive.  Their lack of love cripples the power of the truth they profess.  The truly godly person must cultivate both love and truth.  Make truth and love your lifelong target–embrace it as your sign of maturity.  Make it the goal of your sanctification.  Know the truth and uphold it in love.

In Ephesians 4, the apostle Paul describes this balance of truth and love as the pinnacle of spiritual maturity.  He writes in verse 13, “to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”  This is full maturity, genuine Christlikeness.  And how do we get this Paul, how do we shoot at this target?  Verse 15 says, “but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.”

This is what it means to be Christlike.  Jesus is the perfect expression of truth and the perfect expression of love.  He is our model.  Manifesting both truth and love is possible only for the mature believer who has grown into the measure of the stature that belongs to the fullness of Christ.  That is how true spiritual maturity is defined.  The authentic Christlike person knows the truth and speaks it in love.  He knows the truth as Christ has revealed it, and he loves, as Christ loves.  John’s “want to be the greatest” pride, “burn the Samaritans” harshness and stop him cause he’s not a part of our team” attitude began to change . . . what was the final turning point?

#2  The Source of Love

How then did John get the nickname of “The Apostle of Love”?  He wrote on love, he preached on love, and he demonstrated love.  John 13:23, “There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.”  How was he transformed from a son of thunder into an apostle of love?  Answer:  yes, the teaching and example of Christ, but ultimately one event–the most powerful of all, the cross.

We know from his account of Jesus’s trial that John and Peter followed Jesus to the house of the high priest (John 18:15).  There John watched as Jesus was bound and beaten.  As far as we know, John was the only disciple who was an actual eyewitness to Jesus’s crucifixion.  He was standing close enough to the cross for Jesus to see him and hear him.  Jesus spoke to John while on the cross in John 19:26 to 27, “When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’  Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’  And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.”

Several witnesses in Early Church history tell us John never left Jerusalem, and never left the care of Mary until Mary died.  He was a loving son to Mary.  John watched as the Roman soldiers drove in the nails.  He was there when a soldier finally pierced his Lord’s side with a spear.  As he watched, he knew he would partake of a similar baptism–a similar earthly life of suffering before glory.

Then after the cross, John describes himself in John 20:2a, “So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved.”  In John 21:7 he says, “Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’”  John was in awe that Jesus loved him!  This is not a point of pride.  Actually just the opposite–John was so blown away Jesus still loved him, despite the fact that John wanted all the Samaritans to burn.

Jesus loved him despite seeking the place of honor.  By John referring to himself as the “one whom Jesus loved”, he is emphasizing that our Lord never gave up on him.  Real men sometimes cringe because John was always leaning on Christ–putting his head on Christ.  But for John, this wasn’t merely emotional–it was because he was so deeply devoted to our Lord.  He always wanted to be in His presence, close to God who loved him.

Jesus loved a man who wanted to torch the Samaritans.  Jesus loved a man who desired status and position.  Jesus loved a man who sought exclusive rights to ministry.  Jesus loved a man who forsook Him and fled.  Jesus loved a man like me, and Jesus loved a person like you.

God changed John into a leader by His death on the cross, which transformed him into the apostle of love.  God loved you enough to die for you and transform you.  Perfect God died for sinful, disgusting, rebellious you.  The only way to grow in your love is to keep your life focused on the God of love, who expressed His love in the most sacrificial, selfless, giving, gracious and unimaginable way.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “There is only one thing I know of, that crushes me to the ground and humiliates me to the dust, and that is to look at the Son of God and contemplate the cross.”  The hymn writer wrote, “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.”

You and I are sinners–you have lied, cheated, stolen, lusted, hated, slandered, exalted yourself–and added to all those acts is a human nature that is corrupt, sick, proud and defiant.  And nothing but the Son of God on the cross can save you.  When you’re overwhelmed with a God who would love you that much, you will begin to love like Him.

Every time you look at Christ on the cross, it’s as if it says to you, “I am here because of you.  It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.”  That is love.  And that source of love is what transformed John from being so harsh he wanted to burn people alive, so proud he wanted the chief throne, so sectarian no one was allowed to serve Christ but him, into a man of great love.  What about you?

#3  The Steps to Love

Real men sacrifice for their wives, children and the guys at work.  Godly women give to their husbands and other women who are prettier, smarter, and more popular than you will ever be.  Christian children are those who serve their parents and other Christians.  And believing students actually serve their parents, their friends and their enemies.  But how?  Don’t try to work it up–first surrender to the source of love.

First  Genuine love is found in Christ alone

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  The belief John speaks about here is explained in the New Testament as faith in Christ, a surrender–giving all I am for all Christ is.  Turning away from me, living my life my way, doing my thing and turning to depend on Christ alone, following His Word His way.

You may have prayed a prayer once or made a decision, or walked an aisle or signed a card–but when you are truly born again, God transforms you and lives through you to the degree that Romans 5:5 says, “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  Don’t leave here asking God for more love–you have all the love you need, if you have Christ–the issue is, do you have Christ?  And if you do, are you relying upon Him to love through you?

Second  Genuine love is proven through your behavior

Don’t say you love Christ and not faithfully give to Him in service, demonstrate your love by time being set apart just for Him, and by money sacrificially and consistently given to Him in offering.  Don’t deceive yourself into thinking you love Christ, but won’t forgive your brother or sister who has wronged you.  Don’t say you love Christ and don’t sacrifice for your wife, train your children, and serve your brothers and sisters in the Church.

Genuine love is not merely a feeling, a thought or words.  It is giving, action and sacrifice.  First John 3:18 says, “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”  Love is not optional—love is required.  If you’re genuinely saved, you will show love to Christ, to your spouse, kids, and parents–and you will show love to other Christians.

Yes, you will love the lost too, but never as much as your spiritual family–those who know Christ.  The most powerful witness the Church can display to this world is our love for each other.  John 13:35 says, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  First Thessalonians 3:12, “and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you.”

Third  Genuine love is always according to truth

Debbie Boone was wrong when she sang, “It can’t be wrong, ‘cause it feels so right.”  It is wrong, if it conflicts with Scripture, even when it feels so right.  You’re not loving when what you do contradicts God’s Word.  God is love–therefore love cannot oppose God’s will in His Word.

John uses the Greek word for truth twenty-five times in his gospel, and twenty more times in his epistles.  He wrote in 3 John 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”  His strongest epithet for someone who claimed to be a believer while living in defiant sin was to say he or she was “a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

No one in all of Scripture, except the Lord Himself, had more to say extolling truth and living according to truth.  We must live the truth, but John also extolled the priority and essential of love.  First John 4:7 and 8, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  Again, truth without love is caustic, and love without truth is compromise—but truth and love together is Christlike.

Fourth  Genuine love extends to those who don’t deserve it

None of us deserves salvation, but some of us are saved.  None of us deserves forgiveness, but some of us are forgiven.  All of us deserve eternal torment in Hell forever, but some of us have received so much grace and love, we will be in heaven forever.  God’s love is not given to those who deserve it, but those who don’t–not to the righteous, but to the sick–not to those we like, but those we don’t–not to those who are kind to us, but to those who are cruel, unfair and mean, slanderous betrayers.

Don’t think for a moment you can love God and remain spiteful, unforgiving, or bitter against another believer.  First Peter 4:8, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”  Luke 7:47, “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”  Genuine Jesus love overlooks sins and forgives sins–do you?

John’s theology is best described as a theology of love.  He taught God is love, God loved His own Son, God loved the world, God is loved by Christ, Christ loved His disciples, Christ’s disciples loved Him, all men should love Christ, we should love one another, and love fulfills the law.  John grew into the apostle of love–will you too?  John’s abrasiveness was molded into compassion.  John’s intolerance was transformed into love.  John’s zeal for truth was tempered by the gentleness of Christ.

One of the Early Church fathers, Jerome, tells a famous story of the apostle John in his extreme old age at Ephesus.  He used to be carried into the congregation in the arms of his disciples, and was unable to say anything except, “Little children, love one another.”  Finally, weary of hearing him always say the same thing–love one another, they asked John, “Master, why do you always say this?”  John replied with these words, “Because it is the Lord’s command, and if this ‘only’ is done, it is enough.”

Where would you be today if our Lord didn’t ransom you?  I can guarantee you this–you would be self-sufficient, self-confident and living for self-glorification.

About Chris Mueller

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.