What Is Love? What Does Love Look Like?
In this lesson, based on the Sermon on John 15:9-14 that I first preached back in August as a visiting minister and then tweaked and preached at my home church in December 2018, I argue that true, crucial love looks like the Cross (Latin: crux).
It consists of a vertical component (obedience to God in Christ) as well as a horizontal component (self-sacrificially striving for another’s ultimate good).
- Vertical love: obedience to God in Christ (Mt 22:35-38; cf. Dt 6:5; Jn 14:15, 23; 1 Jn 5:3, etc.)
- Horizontal love: actively, self-sacrificially striving for another’s ultimate good (Mt 22:39 cf. Lev 19:18; 1 Jn 3:16, etc.)
- Christ sets the standard for both dimensions; there is no greater love than His (Jn 15:13)
- Fruitless to talk about love for God without obedience (Turner). Jesus is the True Vine (Jn 15:1f.) to whom we must remain connected to through loving obedience (Jn 15:4f.)
- Remaining independent from God vs. remaining in dependence on God (Turner)
- We should love Jesus and love like Jesus because He first loved us (1 Jn 4:19)
When making the point about self-sacrifice being the greatest act of love, I included embedded a few clips of some heroic mothers who sacrificed themselves for their children:
Greek Text (UBS5)
9 καθὼς ἠγάπησέν με ὁ πατήρ, κἀγὼ ὑμᾶς ἠγάπησα· μείνατε ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ τῇ ἐμῇ. 10 ἐὰν τὰς ἐντολάς μου τηρήσητε, μενεῖτε ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ μου, καθὼς ἐγὼ τὰς ἐντολὰς τοῦ πατρός μου τετήρηκα καὶ μένω αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ.1
11 Ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ἡ ἐμὴ ἐν ὑμῖν ᾖ καὶ ἡ χαρὰ ὑμῶν πληρωθῇ. 12 αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἐντολὴ ἡ ἐμή, ἵνα ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς. 13 μείζονα ταύτης ἀγάπην οὐδεὶς ἔχει, ἵνα τις τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ θῇ ὑπὲρ τῶν φίλων αὐτοῦ. 14 ὑμεῖς φίλοι μού ἐστε ἐὰν ποιῆτε ἃ ἐγὼ ἐντέλλομαι ὑμῖν.2
9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, as I have kept the commands of my father and remain in His love. 11 This is what I have told you so that my joy in you and your joy may be complete.
12 This is my command: that you should love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this: that one give up one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
- 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.” BiblicalELearning.org. Copywright, David Turner and Ted Hildebrandt, 2018. August 2, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrXcV-difeI