Renewing our relationship with God should be first on our list of priorities for a new year. The first task in renewing our relationship is accepting that God loves us, and the prime example of His love is seen in Jesus. Not only Jesus on the cross, but Jesus in the marketplace, and Jesus in the homes, and Jesus in the synagogue. Jesus is the prime example of the measure of God’s love.
When someone does something nice for you, what’s your first thought? Doing something nice in return, right? Someone bought lunch for me, so I’ll buy lunch for them. Someone bought me a Christmas present, now I have to buy something in return. Re-gifting is good for those occasions.
How do we respond to all that God has done for us in Christ Jesus? How do we respond to this great love?
· Apathy—thanks for what you did, I’ll look you up again the next time I need something.
· Indebtedness—the gift we were given was so great we could never, ever repay the debt.
· Shame—Peter’s response in the boat. God’s love is so good and so great, and I’m such a terrible, nasty person.
None of those are anything like what God would want from us. Perhaps we can learn something from those who experienced Jesus’ love firsthand. Perhaps they can give us a glimpse of how we should respond to God’s love.
I. They follow Him.
Many people who were direct recipients of Jesus’ love and kindness, and many people who were eyewitnesses of His love, began to follow Jesus. Literally follow Him. Everywhere He went they followed Him.
A. Some followed Him out of hero-worship. He’s the newest fad, the new star, the new hero. There always people who want to be close to the most popular people. Do you know what these people are called? There’s a word for it. They’re called parasites. They hang around popular people for personal gain.
There were some of those in Jesus’ entourage, and when His teaching became too difficult and challenging, they left. For them, following Jesus wasn’t about Jesus, it was about them.
B. Some were looking for what He could give them. For example, the crowd after the feeding of the 5000 went looking for Jesus the next day, only to discover that He wasn’t where they left Him. When they find Him, Jesus challenges them about their motives. (John 6:26-27, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”)
C. Others followed Him out of simple, childlike faith. They weren’t following Him because He was popular, they weren’t following Him for what He could do for them, but simply because of who He was. (John 6:66-68, From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”)
Jesus doesn’t love us so we will like Him and think He’s popular. Jesus doesn’t love us so we will follow Him. Jesus loves us simply because of who He is. Why do you follow Jesus?
II. They tell others what Jesus has done for them.
A. Mark 1—story of leper who was healed. Jesus tells him not to tell anyone, but to go show himself to the priest. But how can you possibly NOT tell someone this good news. Mark says he began to talk freely and spread the news about Jesus. Could you keep such wonderful news to yourself?
B. Mark 5—a demon possessed man is healed by Jesus. When Jesus gets ready to leave the formerly demon possessed man wants to go with Him. Jesus forbids him to and tells him in v. 19, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
We can respond to Jesus’ love by telling others what Jesus has done for us. NOTE: I didn’t say we should tell others about Jesus, but that we should tell others what He has done for us. People have heard about Jesus; what they need is a testimony of what Jesus has done in the lives of real people.
III. People who love Jesus OBEY HIM.
Listen to some of these scriptures:
· John 14:15: “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
· John 14:21; “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.”
· John 14:23; “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.”
· John 14:24; “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.”
· John 15:10; “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”
· 1 John 2:5; “if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him.”
· 1 John 5:3; “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”
Before you start trying to run ahead of me and start thinking this sounds terribly legalistic and confusing, burdensome and binding—let’s ask what are His commands? What does He expect us to obey? Let’s go back and look at some of the same scriptures that we just looked at.
· John 13:34-35; “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
· John 15:12-14; “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”
· John 15:17; “This is my command: Love each other.”
· 1 John 3:10-11; “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”
· 1 John 3:16; “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”
· 1 John 3:23; “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”
· 1 John 4:11; “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
· 1 John 4:19-21; “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
And that brings us to our fourth response to God’s love: Love one another.
We must respond to the love that God has shown us in Christ Jesus by loving one another. That, my friends, is next week’s message.
What’s going to be your response to the great and wonderful love of God?