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Grace Bible Church - Gatesville, Tx
Grace Bible Church - Gatesville, Tx

Episode 109 · 3 months ago

In The Upper Room: A Love for His Own

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In The Upper Room: A Love for His Own

John 13:1

Dax Bryant - Preaching

John, Chapter Thirteen. We've now arrived at the Thirteenth Chapter of John's Gospel, the doorway, as it were, to what we know as the upper room discourse. If you were keeping track, it took US about thirty sermons to move through the first twelve chapters of this Gospel to get to this point. Some of you have commented at times just how quick that seemed, as we were working through big chunks, or sometimes even entire chapters of scripture. And if you are the kind of person who has had those concerns, I have some good news for you. This morning. We will be slowing down significantly as we come to the upper room. It will now take us another thirty sermons or so just to get through these next four chapters. It will take another thirty sermons just to get through the single chapter of John Seventeen, the high priestly prayer. So we won't be finishing John's Gospel, once you count in advent and some of those things, until some time after Easter two thousand, just so you know where we're going. But it is not as if we are slowing down for no reason here. It has been said by many that if we think of the scriptures as the Temple of God, then John through seventeen could be the holy of holies. It is like the the inner sanctuary where the heart of Christ is revealed to us like no other place in scripture. Alexander McLaren is a Scottish pastor from a century ago. He wrote this about this section of John's Gospel. He says, nowhere else do the blended lights of our words, superhuman dignity and human tenderness shine with such lambent brightness. Nowhere else is his speech at once so simple and so deep. Nowhere else have we the heart of God's so unveiled to us. On no other page, he says, even of the Bible, have so many eyes glistening with tears looked and had the tears dried. The immortal words which Christ spoke in that upper chamber are his highest self revelation in speech. As we've been working through the gospel of John, you've noticed, I hope, in those first twelve chapters, that the shadow of the Cross has grown longer and darker every step of the way until we come to this moment where now we have the privilege of eavesdropping like a fly on the wall. This this time where Jesus communicated these intimate words that were reserved for his closest followers behind the closed doors of the upper room. And if it is true that that this is the holy of holies of scripture, then we we dare not rush past it. Instead, we want to linger here in this place, and I am convinced that, as a church family, we will not be the same for having taking our time in this portion of God's word. But first, before we really begin in earnest, we need to, as it were, take our shoes off, because we will be standing on holy ground. As we come to chapter thirteen of John's Gospel. Jesus's Public Ministry is finished. He has after this point no more interaction with the unbelieving world other than his arrests, trials and Crucifixion. What we have here in these chapters, even though it fits under the umbrella of John's purpose for his Gospel that these things are written so that you may believe, but what we have here in the upper room is especially for believers. Now, up until this point in John's Gospel, there have really been two major themes that have that have dominated those first twelve chapters. One of those themes is life. Life. The word life appears thirty so, thirty or so times in those first twelve chapters of John's Gospel. Life, abundant life, fullness of life, set against death. The other predominant theme in the First Half of John's Gospel is light.

Light. That word occurs more than fifty times in those same first twelve chapters, over against darkness. Of course sin has brought darkness into the human race, but Jesus Christ, the light of the world, has come into the world. But from this point on, from chapter thirteen on, those predominant themes in the first half of John's Gospel Fade into the background and appear very infrequently, starting here now through these next five chapters. Specifically, a word that appeared only six times in the first twelve chapters now appears over thirty times. There is a new predominant word, there is a new predominant theme that we're introduced here, even in this verse. It's like the banner that hangs over the doorway to the upper room, and that word is love. Love. As Jesus prepares to leave his men behind, he wants them to know something with with everything that's about to happen on this night, with that, that whole flurry of events that is going to leave their heads spinning and their spirits crushed. He wants them to know something. He wants them to know that he loves them and he wants them to know that the father loves them. So, as we come to chapter verse one, this is far more than just a simple introduction to this chapter, or even an introduction to this whole scene of Jesus washing his disciples feet, which we won't even get to until next week. Rather, verse one is an Inter Production to this new theme of love and and you have to keep that in the back of your mind. Everything that we will encounter here in the upper room has to be viewed through that Lens of love. Another thing unique to this portion of John's Gospel in contrast to what we've seen so far, is that what we've seen in the first twelve chapters, the pattern has been that Jesus performs a sign, a miracle, and then he unpacks that miracle and explains the significance or the meaning of that sign. But but now here in these chapters that pattern gets reversed. Here in the upper room, Jesus first unpacks the significance of his greatest sign, his death on the cross, his burial, His resurrection, his exaltation, the coming of the Holy Spirit. He explains all of that before those events take place, and the stage for for all which is to come is set for us in this one single sentence that summarizes everything Jesus is about to do. So let's let's hear it again, shall we? It's just one verse, Chapter. Verse One, now, before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. Maybe you hear that and you think, well, that seems pretty straightforward, that seems pretty simple. What's the big deal about this verse? And friends, I would just simply submit to you that you can't move on into the rest of the upper room discourse until you first understand the significance and the implications of this single verse. That Jesus loved his own and he loved them to the end. And already we have a an interpretive obstacle because we have our own funny ideas when we hear that word love. We have our own things rattling around in our minds about love. We think of Valentine's Day, we think of anniversaries. Those are wonderful things, great ways to express love. But the truth is, even as God's people, even as the church, we have been more influenced by the cultural concept of romantic love than by the biblical concept of actual love. And and John, verse one says some very important things about Christian love that we need to carefully consider. And so, as we get into this...

...here, we're gonna begin just by looking at the first phrase and the last phrase in this verse. The the opening words of that first phrase really set the scene. All of what will take place in the next five chapters. Occurs before the Feast of the Passover. Of course you remember the Passover, this celebration that was given by God to Israel to commemorate what God had done for them in delivering them out of Egypt in the days of Moses. You remember the story. God told each household to slaughter a lamb, two dress for travel and then at twilight, to eat that lamb along with bitter herbs to remind them of the bitterness of four hundred years of Egyptian bondage. And then they were to take the blood from that lamb and spread it along the sides and over the top of the doorway, because later that night, when the destroying angel came to the House, if he saw the blood of the lamb applied to the door he would pass over it and leave the firstborn of that household, the firstborn son, untouched. And so every year, according to God's command, on the fourteenth of Nissan, every Jewish family would sacrifice a Passover lamb and observe this feast in Remembrance of God's saving work. Now, when we come to this point here in John's Gospel, the symbolism of that ceremony, of that ritual, of that feast that had been taking place at this point for thousands of years was about to be ultimately fulfilled in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, the true Passover lamb, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. That's what John's getting at when he says in the last phrase he loved them to the end. Not just that Jesus loved his disciples to the end of his life, though that's certainly true. He loved them. I tell us. The Greek word there speaks of completion, of purpose, of fulfillment. It's connected to the same word Jesus utters from the Cross. Take, tell, stay, it is finished. One translation puts it this way. So he now showed them how much he really loved them. Another translation says now he showed them the full extent of his love. Do you get the idea of being communicated here? that he loved them to the end means he loved them to the greatest and the highest degree. He loved them ultimately, he loved them completely, Love them in fulfillment of his purpose. In what way? Not In washing their feet, but in what washing their feet points to. He'd loved them to the end, ultimately in his death on the cross. In other words, Jesus's death on the Cross was the greatest demonstration of his love. And I want you to not think that I'm just making that up. So I want I want you to see this for yourselves here. So we're gonna take a little tour through the New Testament. So you, if you are prepared, you can flip around in your Bible, keep a finger in John Thirteen, but we'll jump around a little bit. Maybe easier if you have a device. But what I want you to see is that all throughout the New Testament the love of God is defined in terms of an event. In fact, the verb in in that last phrase is at the end of John Thirteen, verse one. He loved them. That verb loved is in the airist tense, ao R I S T, airist tense, and that simply means that verb tense is used to speak of a definite act, of a moment in time, of a snapshot. It's not talking here when it mentions his love, about the love of Jesus that has existed for eternity. We'll we'll get to that later in the upper room. Here, this term loved speaks of an event, of a moment. WHAT EVENT IS IN MIND? And of course the answer is this is a reference to his work on the cross. So let me show you the same thing, the same correlation here that takes place in other spots in the New Testament. So I want you to see this for yourselves. If we go to John Three, six, for God so...

...loved. That's in the airist tense. Again, that same verb tense speaking of a definite moment, a definite act for God so loved the world. How did he express that love that he gave his only son? Speaking of Jesus's death. So they're God's love is defined by Jesus's death. Flip over to Romans Chapter Eight. Romans Chapter Eight, Verse Thirty Seven. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Again, same verb tense. That the it's the airist tense. They're speaking of a definite act. What Act is it? Well, he breading the context makes it clear. He who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us. All again, God's love is defined by Jesus's death. Go to Galatians chapter two. Galatians Chapter Two, Verse Twenty. I Have Been Crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the son of God who loved me. Same tense, heiress tense. A definite act, a definite point in time. How did he love me and gave himself for me? Again it speaks of the cross. God's love defined by Jesus's death. Ephesians chapter five, m verse two and Walk In love as Christ loved us. Again, ariss tense, further defined by the next phrase. How did he love US and gave himself up for us? God's love defined by Jesus's death. One more just to Belabor the point. First John Chapter Four, verse ten. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us. There's that airiss tense again. But but how did he love US and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins? He loved us by sending his son to satisfy God's wrath against us on the cross. Once again, God's love defined by the death of Jesus. Do you get the picture? We could go on. We'll leave it at that, but what I want you to see is all scattered throughout the New Testament. The love of God is frequently tied to a particular moment in time, and that moment is the cross. The Cross is the ultimate expression of God's love. He loved them to the end. Back to John Thirt, John is expressing there Jesus loved them to the greatest degree. His his death, expressed his love in the ultimate sense of the word. And Christians, this is something we have to remind ourselves of the degree to which God has loved us, as proven in the death of his own son. Yes, it's it's right and good to reclaim your love for Jesus, but to stop and realize that what really matters is that Jesus loves you. That is a humbling thing, to remember who you were and that he set his love on you anyway. If that thought doesn't drop you to your knees, I don't know what will. You believer have been loved in the greatest possible way and that great love has been expressed to us ultimately in the death of Jesus Christ. Now I realized most of you already know that. Why am I talking about it so much? I think it's because, if there's any quality of God that has been distorted, deluded or undercut, it is this quality of God's love. And so...

...we can't just leave it at this point because since, since love is going to be the primary theme in these next several chapters that we're going to see, the context demands that we handle this concept of love in a way that is much more thorough and responsible, and so what we're gonna do for the rest of our time here this morning is to unpack what I've hopefully been able to demonstrate to you from scripture just now. This, this is the big idea that the ultimate expression of the love of Christ was manifested in his death on the cross. The ultimate expression of the love of Christ was manifested in his death on the Cross and by God's grace, I trust that three specific aspects of Christ's ultimate expression of love and his death on the cross will become clear. So here's the first one. First of all, I want us to think about how this ultimate expression of his love was anticipated by him. It was anticipated by him. Look at chapter verse one once again now, before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the father. He knew. It speaks of his omniscience, of his all knowing nous. Jesus knew that he was on his way home. But look carefully. This doesn't say that he was ready to depart out of this world to heaven, though to be sure, he would return to heaven and all of the glories that he had left behind. But but notice the real attraction, the real draw out of this world for Jesus was a relationship of such intimacy and such love that we will never fully comprehend it, because this kind of perfect intimacy and perfect love exists only within the members of the Triune God, the father, son and spirit. This is speaking of the love of the father for the son and the love of the son for the father. That was the draw out of this world. How many times in John's Gospel, in those first twelve chapters, have we seen Jesus say, I'm going to the father now? On the positive side, he he knew that this, this glorious reunion, was getting closer, it was drawing nearer. But there was also a negative aspect to this knowledge, when Jesus knew that his hour had come. Again, a phrase we've seen repeated several times in John's Gospel. From early pages he's been saying what that the hour has not come, the hour is not yet here. And then in chapter twelve, remember that changed. His hour had finally come. But but here's the thing I want you to consider. He always knew that it was coming. He lived his life, his his whole life, fully aware of what was waiting for him at the Cross. After all, the the event of the Cross was something that was established within the Trinity, before the foundation of the world. And then God created the heavens and the earth, and the hour was one day closer. And then God created Adam and Eve, and the hour was one day closer. And then God chose Abraham and delivered the Israelites out of Egypt through Moses and established the throne of David. Closer, closer, closer. And then finally, the son of God left aside the Glories of Heaven and entered into the world, which he had made naked and weak and vulnerable in the same way that he would leave it. He knew that his hour was coming and he understood exactly what that meant. Can Can you imagine? I mean, we all know that we're going to die one day, but can you imagine carrying the burden of this knowledge every moment of every day? We couldn't do it. And the point I'm trying to make is simply this, that the ultimate expression of Jesus's love shown on the cross was something that was anticipated by him. And again, if that seems obvious, consider this. At this moment, when Jesus knew...

...that his hour had come, and all that that meant, and the fact that it is just moments from taking place. What would we expect of someone in that situation? It would be perfectly understandable, wouldn't it, given these circumstances, perfectly justifiable, perfectly normal, for someone in this situation, at the end of his life, to be occupied with himself, to be thinking of his needs and his concerns. And yet yet it is at this very instant, precisely at this moment, when the hour has come, that Jesus has said to have loved others to the greatest degree, to the end. Think about that. Death is at the doorstep, the fullness of the wrath of God Almighty is about to be poured out up on him, and it is at the brink of this greatest horror, at the very threshold of the experience of Hell itself, that Jesus is preoccupied with the needs of not himself but of others, and expressing his love for them to the end. This ultimate anticipation of his love, the Cross was anticipated by him, but not only that. Secondly, now, the ultimate expression of his love was characteristic of him. It was characteristic of him. See this now, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the father, having loved his own who were in the world now. As I've mentioned, the verb tense indicates that Jesus is about to love them to the greatest degree at the cross. But it's also true that he had been loving them throughout the entirety of his ministry already. He had always loved them. He loved them from the very start, and so the cross, his greatest act of love, was right in harmony with the love that he had always displayed for them. How had he loved them? Well, he chose them. They didn't choose him, he chose them. He was their constant companion. He revealed the mind of God to them, patiently, might I add. He showed compassion to them. He invited them into his life and ministry. All all that and more, despite knowing everything they would do right. He knew that Peter would deny him, he knew that Thomas would doubt his resurrection. He knew that while he was in gets Simone, sweating drops of blood and great agony, they'd be asleep, that they would all flee. But despite all of that, he never for one moment removed his love from them. He had always loved them and that was just carried out to the end at the cross. The Cross, the ultimate expression of his love for them, was anticipated by him. The Cross, the ultimate expression of his love for them, was characteristic of him. He'd always loved them. But it's the third point that I want to spend the rest of our time on. And here, friends, if you fallen asleep, I need you to wake back up because I need you to engage with me here and think carefully and examine the scriptures to see if these things are so. Here's our third point. The Cross, the ultimate expression of his love, was particular to his own. The Cross, the ultimate expression of his love, was particular to his own. Let's look at this verse one more time. Pick it up there in the middle. Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the father, having loved his own who were in the world. He loved them to the end. Now there's another word that gets repeated. Shows up twice in this sentence. It shows up forty sometimes in the next five chapters, and that word is rather surprisingly, maybe world, the word world. And when the word world shows up here in these five...

...chapters. Most of the time it serves this purpose to to draw a sharp distinction between Jesus's own, his disciples, the people who belong to him, and over here the mass of lost humanity, the world from which these disciples were drawn out of, and the world in which these disciples, though they've been drawn out of the world, must live in the world, the people who whom God has drawn out of the world are are forming a new entity. And here we see this, this contrast, begin to sharpen into focus. The world loves its own. Jesus loves his own. We'll see that again and again. And so in these chapters, the object of the love of God that has displayed in Jesus Christ, which certainly includes the cross, the object of that love is not the lost world. Rather, the object of the love of God displayed in Jesus Christ, particularly at the cross, is the newly forming people of God, the disciples of the Messiah, the Community of the elect, the called out ones who comprised the church. Jesus loved, the text says, his own and at the cross he will show them the full extent of his love for them. Now I want you to listen carefully don't. Don't just hear part of this, okay, because if you just take part of this and try to make that the whole thing, then you'll end up losing everything and it will be a complete untruth. So listen carefully, as I as I say this. God loves all people, but God does not love all people in exactly the same way. For example, think about Romans Chapter Nine, where God simply says Jacob I loved, but sa I hated. Not that God is saying that he necessarily had a holy hatred towards ESA, but rather that God was going to do some things for Jacob that he was not going to do for ESA. Does that seem unfair, Paul, thought you might ask that. So if you go read Romans nine this afternoon, you'll see that he addresses that very accusation. Is this unfair? We don't have time to get into that. You can read that on your own, but the point for now is this. If we're going to be faithful to scripture, I contend we need to recognize a clear distinction between God's providential love over his creation and God's particular, effective, even selective love toward his own. In other words, there are indiscriminate aspects of the love of God that apply to everyone, and there are discriminating aspects of the love of God that apply to some. It's a hard truth, I think. So let me, let me try to give you a couple of analogies and we'll try them on for size and see if these help us see things more clearly or if they make you more confused. For example, don't you love all the kids in our church, even the ones who cry, even the ones who you know make a mess? Don't you love seeing all of their smiling, cute little faces? I hope that you love all the kids in our church, but do you love all the kids in our church the same way in which you love your own kids? I don't. I don't love all children the way I love my children, which I think should not be surprising to you, because I suspect you feel the same way right and it doesn't make when I say that, that doesn't make you think anything less of my love for all the kids in our church. In fact, if I claimed not to love my own children more than all the other kids, you wouldn't think that I was especially big hearted. You think I was a Weirdo and you'd be right. Another example, staying within the realm of the family, it is totally legitimate for a brother in this church to love all of his Christian sisters who are in this church. But if he loves all of his sisters in the congregation in the same way that he loves his...

...own wife, then there is something deeply wrong. Right, a married man has has chosen a particular woman to be the unique object of his discriminating love and vice versa. Now, with with those analogies and mind knowing they're not perfect, the Lord Jesus Christ chose his bride, the church, a particular set of people, to be the unique object of his discriminating love. But remember the context of John Verse One here right this, this whole concept of loving his own is tied to the ultimate expression of his love, which is his death on the cross. He loved them to the end, to the greatest degree, remember, and so John One raises perhaps an unexpected theological question, yet an important theological question that we need to address. The question. We can say it like this, given what this text says, given what I've just explained and illustrated. For WHOM DID CHRIST DIE? For whom did Christ die. In other words, here are your options. Did Jesus Christ die for all people in the world indiscriminately, or did Jesus Christ die specifically for his own as the verse says, his bride, we might say? Now, however you answer that question, here's what you need to understand. However you answer the question, your answer limits Christ's death in some way. You understand this? Let me show you what I mean. If if you say that Jesus died for all people indiscriminately, then what you're saying is the extent or the scope of Christ death is unlimited. It's open to everyone, but the effectiveness of his death, what it actually accomplishes, is limited because as a Christian, you don't believe that everyone is going to be saved. And so if you answer the question that way, that Jesus died to potentially save everyone, you also must admit that he died in actuality for no one person in particular, but that it's a potential death for all. And ultimately, and we can argue about this later if you want to, but ultimately I think when you follow that out, what ends up saving you is your faith in Christ's death rather than the objective reality of Christ's death itself. So that's that's one way that the atonement of Christ gets limited, not in extent but in effectiveness, like a like a bridge that is a thousand miles wide but stops one mile short. On the other hand, if you say that Christ died only for his own, only for his bride, then you you magnify the effectiveness of his faith. The bridge goes all the way across, but it's not nearly as wide. You limit the extent, the scope of his death. Are you? Are you tracking with me here? In other words, if you take this view, his death was not to potentially save all people. Rather, it was to definitively actually save the people whom the father had chosen to give him before the foundation of the world. So that's the question. For whom? Did Christ die for all people in the world indiscriminately, yet only potentially? That view limits the effectiveness of Christ's death, or did he die only for his own who were in the world? That view limits the extent, the scope of Christ's death. I'll give you my conviction on what scripture teaches and I'm happy to argue it. When Jesus cried it is finished from the cross he meant it. He got what he paid for in that moment, as Jesus said. We thought a while back in...

Chapter Ten of John's Gospel, I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, not for the goats, for the sheep, he says. I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own and my own no me, just as the father knows me and I know the father. I lay down my life for the sheep. For WHOM DID CHRIST DIE? I think you can answer that by asking asking another question. For which sheep did Christ lay his life down? His own sheep that he calls out by name, and who follow him? To go back to the illustration of marriage from Emfesians, chapter five, verse says husbands, Love Your wives as Christ loved the church. So this is a comparison. Love your lives in this way, as Christ loved the church. How did he do that? Paul continues. He gave himself up for her that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor. And then what does Paul say next? On the basis of Christ's particular love for his church, in the same way husbands love all women. No, he says, in the same way husbands should love their wives. They should imitate Christ's particular discriminating kind of love. Now listen, this is important to say to again, we do not want to distort the truth so that we end up with an untruth. So we must say this because Jesus Christ is a person of infinite value and infinite worth. If it was God's design to save all people, then the death of Christ would be more than sufficient to save a billion worlds full of people. But at the Cross we're not dealing with potentialities, we're dealing with actualities, and God's design was for Christ to save those whom the father had chosen and given to him. We saw it in John Six. No one can come to me unless the father draws him. Let me anticipate an objection. So what then? Do we not need to share the Gospel? No, we read all of the Bible. How are they to believe in him of whom they've never heard? We must share the Gospel. Not only must we share the gospel because it's a command, but we share it because Christ's finished work on the cross for those whom the father has given him, because we know that we can have greater confidence in sharing the Gospel because all those for whom Christ died will come to him. And so, just like your own salvation doesn't depend on you, but on Christ, so the salvation of others doesn't depend on your abilities to persuade or be clever, but on Christ. God has ordained not just the ends the outcompanies, ordained the means by which salvation will occur. The word of God will not return to him void, but it will accomplish his purpose, including the salvation of his people. And we can go to the end of the book to see that Christ has secured the salvation of a great multitude that no one can number, from every tribe, language and nation. That that assurance, when you have the answers in the back of the book, that should fill you with a confident assurance to boldly bring the good news to your family, to your friends, to your neighbors, because you can know for certain that those for whom Christ died will come to him and be saved. And so I can stand here before you this morning and say from the bottom of my heart, with all heartfelt authenticity, all who will come to Christ come to Christ and those who come are those whom Jesus has set his love upon. James Boyce said it this way. He said God has done some things for all people, but he has done all things for some people. Does God love all people? Yes, he does. He makes his the sun rise on the evil and the good. He sends rain on the just and the unjust. But Does God love all people the same way? It seems to me from scripture that God loves his own people with a particular discriminating kind of love, and I think that doesn't diminish God's love.

That actually magnifies God's love because it makes God's love personal to you who have been saved. He he didn't. Jesus didn't die attempting to save a a faithless mass of humanity out there somewhere. He died definitively and specifically for you who will believe. Can I ask, friends, when is the last time that you slowed down to consider the kind of love that God has poured out on you through his son Jesus, and given him thanks for that? I'm not just talking about when we perhaps sing a song that we really like and we feel emotions welling up within us and we get some spiritual goose bumps on the back of our neck. I'm talking about the last time that you allowed the truth of God's word to invade your mind and your heart, and that resulted in praise for the son of God who has loved you to the end. Believer, he has loved you with a particular, discriminating kind of love. He has brought salvation to your soul. Personally, he knew you, he predestined you, he called you, he regenerated you, he justified you, he is sanctifying you. One day he will glorify you. But you see, what holds all of that together is that Jesus died for you. When is the last time that you have considered the particular way that Christ has loved you? Believer, I submit that you can't think about these things very long without falling on your face in awe and in worship. The ultimate expression of the love of Christ was manifested in his death on the cross. This expression of love at the Cross was anticipated by him, this expression of love at the Cross was characteristic of his life and ministry, and this expression of love at the Cross was particularly and definitely for his own have you heard of this kind of love. Have you responded to this kind of love? If you've not, then with the full authority of Jesus Christ, I say to you, come to him, turn from your sin and bow the knee to the God who has loved you like this. And Friends, the truth is, if it is your desire to come, it is because the father is drawing you near to the Sun. And so right now, respond to that call, respond to the love of Jesus Christ, right now, know his love be counted among his own. And may God help all of us, Christian or not, to set aside faulty, immature misconceptions of love and instead fill us with the greater reality of God's love as it is displayed in his word and, most ultimately, in his son. Brothers and sisters, we are indeed on holy ground in the upper room, and I hope you look forward to spending more time with Jesus in this place. Let's pray. Lord, when we consider the death of Jesus on the Cross, help us to see it as the ultimate expression of Christ's love for his people. What a beautiful savior who has loved thinners to the degree that he gave himself for us we we know, father, that our love for you did not come first, but your love to us came first. Your love is what prompts our love. Your love is what fills our hearts, and then, by your spirit, moves us, compels us to look to you and to love you in return, and that makes you lovely. So, God, keep filling us with your love, increase our love for you every day, and may the love that has been poured out for us compel us to live for you and to love others all the way to the end. A.

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