love 1: the mystery of love
7/19/2006 02:09:00 AM
I wrote a few days ago on the parable of the Good Samaritan, and have since that time been thinking on the subject of love. Love is such an elementary truth, and it is something that I come back to time and time again. I guess the reason why is the fact is so elementary. To me, love is the foundational doctrine on which all other Christian doctrines hang. Jesus says that the Law and the Prophets, the bible of the day, hang as something tied to a rope hangs. The image of everything being suspended on those commands is compelling, and the reason I would teach love as a doctrine right up there with Christology and other doctrines we hold near and dear.

The line from the song I posted, "He was showing his love, and that's how he jurt his hands." has been resonating in my mind for the last couple of days. Simply stated, love hurts. When I thought about love in these terms, John 15:13 came to mind, so I went to the passage and looked at it. It is very familiar, yet every time I read it, it seems fresh. I noticed something this time I hadn't noticed before: this verse is part of a larger set of verses seemingly 12-17.
(12) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

(13)Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (14)You are my friends if you do what I command. (15)I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (16)You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

(17) This is my command: Love each other
These verses form what Bible expositors like to call an inclusio. An inclusio is a literary device used to block off a section in a larger text, usually by relating the beginning of the section with the end of the section. Here, verse 12 and 17 repeat one another, thus relating them to one another. What is between then is forming some kind of thought

The command Jesus gives is a rehash of chapter 13 where Jesus gives them a new command. In verse 12 he says as he has shown them how to love. Jesus demonstrated in his life, exemplified in washing their feet just a few chapters earlier. The idea of self-sacrifice and service to people is what Jesus is getting at.

Verses 13 as I've mentioned was the verse that came to mind when I think of love hurting. Love cost Jesus his life, and this is undoubtedly the greatest example of love in all of human history. John points to Christ?s death as the standard of love in 1 John 13:16. Although love seems so simple, it really defies logic. If I was a banker and I had to invest in something, it wouldn't be love. First it is expensive. Love costs the most valuable thing of all, and that is life. Second, there is no return on the investment. If love costs my life, then how can I get a return? But for some reason, God chose to love us. John tells us that our love is a reaction to his love in 1 John 4:19, but not the other way around. Restated, Why would anyone do something that hurts, costs a lot, and has no return? This to me is a mystery. God does things sometimes that cook my brain.

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