We cannot separate the love of Christ from the love of God. When we dwell in Christ’s love, we live permanently in the presence and love of the great I AM.
As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. (John 15:9)
To grasp the full magnitude of the love of God is beyond our human capability. It is so utterly vast that we can comprehend only the smallest part. Yet it is arguably the most preached truth in the entire Bible. In every human being is a need to love and be loved that drives from the moment of birth. This is why the love of God is so attractive to the world – it meets a core need to reunite with our spiritual Father. The cross is the ultimate manifestation of a love so powerful and profound that it leaves us breathless with awe. But there is a wonderful dimension to this love we so often miss.
The love of Christ is the love of God.
Jesus is our perfect example, the manifestation of God’s love to a fallen world. Though He is the Son of God, He is also part of the triune God and so is God. He cannot be separated from the Father. The love of Christ is, therefore, both the manifestation of the love of God and the love of God itself. This ‘same love’ is the basis of their agreement that Jesus endure the cross. He didn’t do it because He loved us, but because He loved us with the vast, immeasurable love of God. We must never lose sight of the truth that the Son of God cannot be separated from God. He is a manifestation of God that He has given us by grace to help us understand and commune with Him in worship and intimate relationship.
Our fallen condition makes it impossible for us to approach God and not be destroyed. Anything that is not holy cannot survive in the presence of the holiness of God. In Jesus, God gives Himself as the way, the truth, and the life. We come to the Father through the Son, but that is God accomplishing the impossible through His own life and power. I am a mother and a daughter, and have also been a wife, all at the same time. There’s nothing weird or complicated about it. The love I have inside me is the same, all the time, whatever role I may be functioning in at the time. It’s part of who I am and cannot be separated or divided up into individual compartments. The same principle applies to the love of Christ.
The relevance of the love of Christ.
It’s easy to get a little confused when Jesus Himself seems to speak of His love as something separate from the love of God. To correct this confusion, we must look at the purpose of the Son in the Trinity. Each character revealed in the Trinity has a specific purpose, and Christ’s purpose is to reveal the Father. In very practical terms, He came to earth as the Son of Man – entirely human – so that He could, firstly, show us what the love relationship between God and His children should be. He was living proof that the impossible – intimate relationship with God – is possible. The love of Christ has the same desire as the love of God – that all men should become sons of God.
Secondly, Jesus came to reveal the totality of the love of God. The love of Christ is a love unto death. It’s an all-encompassing, self-sacrificing love that holds nothing back. Through His life and death, Jesus revealed the fullness of God’s love. In sacrificing His Son, God was, in fact, sacrificing Himself. Jesus was the love of God in action. He revealed the intense love of a Father for His Son, the reciprocal love of a Son for His Father, critical truths that empower our relationship with God. Though we can ‘see’ the Son of Man as an individual who demonstrated God’s love and how we should relate to Him, God was wholly invested and existed in Christ.
The love of Christ endured separation for our restoration.
Basically, God came down to earth in the human form of Jesus of Nazareth to show us how to be His children and that it was possible. He also came to teach us that this kind of love – the love of Christ and God – demands all, not only from God but from us as well. It is a love that transcends everything and demands everything. While God chose to operate ‘separately’ as Jesus – His love in action – there is only one brief moment that real spiritual separation occurred. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).
This spiritual agony was not only that of the Son separated from His Father, but that of God separated from Himself. That is the full spiritual magnitude of the love of Christ. We cannot even begin to conceive what it must have cost God to cut off a vital part of who He is, no matter how short the duration. But God agreed, as both Father and Son, that this agony was the only way. Restoration could not happen without separation. We see Christ’s suffering visibly on the cross, but must never see it from a one-sided perspective. God endured what Christ endured, because they are one and the same.
The love of Christ and the sons of God.
Jesus is the ‘firstborn,’ the incarnation of God in the form of His Son to provide a ‘prototype’ of what He intended for all those who believe. We become the sons of God. This is an awesome privilege that again, we cannot fully appreciate. The great I AM adopts us into His family. He blesses us to share the rewards and the responsibilities entrusted to His Son. This is the essence of the truth Jesus reveals when He says that He has loved us as the Father loved Him. What this means is that the love of Christ is the same love that God gives His Son. Jesus simply manifests the love of God. His love for us simply shows us how God loves us.
Through the love of Christ, God is able to show us the manifold blessings and privileges that are ours as sons of God. There is the mercy of forgiveness, the grace of boldness to call Him ‘Abba,’ and the joy of His presence. We have the rich inheritance of eternal life with Him. He gives us the opportunity to worship in Spirit and truth, to know His will, and commune intimately and without reservation, one on one, and learn directly from Him. But He also reveals our responsibilities, all of which can be summed up in the simple truth that we are to live as Jesus did, laying down our lives in love.
The love of Christ is our dwelling place.
This is perhaps the most remarkable truth that emerges when we consider the love of Christ. It is not something fleeting or transitory. We need have no fear that it will change or be withdrawn. Jesus tells us to ‘abide’ in His love. To abide means to live. It’s a permanent home, one from which we will never be evicted, no matter what. When we live in the love of Christ, we live in the love of God. Just as the two cannot be separated, nor can we. It’s our place of safety, assurance, and acceptance. God’s love never changes. It’s fixed and unwavering and eternally faithful. In Christ means we are never outside of God’s love. We remain right there in the middle of it, embraced and secured by the love of God Himself.
Gracious Father, we stand in awe of the grace and privilege You extend to us, who are sinners. Thank You for Your great love and for the love of Christ which reveals the magnitude, even though we cannot fully comprehend it. Keep us safe and help us to dwell in Jesus’ love, not as visitors but as sons, and help us to love You as we should, with the same love the Son has for His Father.