What Jesus Loved by Michael J. Wilkins - Page 1


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From the Spring 2008 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

What Jesus Loved

by Michael J. Wilkins
Dean of the Faculty and Professor of New Testament Language and Literature,
Talbot School of Theology, Biola University


just don’t love her anymore.” Identical words uttered on separate occasions by two men, one married to his wife for only four months, the other married to his wife for over fifty years. That may sound bizarre, but it’s quite tragically true. Both men said that they no longer felt anything for their wives, and that they weren't’t getting anything out of the relationship. They both also said that they had now found another woman whom they “really” loved. They eventually left their wives and went off in pursuit of what they described as their own personal happiness and fulfillment.

That was the introduction to my first year as a pastor. It was quite a shock, especially because both men were professing Christians. Wouldn't’t their professed love for Jesus make a difference in their other relationships? Those incidents forced me to take a hard look at what we call love.

Tune in to a number of different radio stations and listen to a selection of songs, and you will hear the word “love” used to express a variety of things, ranging from infatuation to brotherhood and good will, to sexual activity. The way that we use the word “love” so generalizes the term that it could refer to most anything, especially when we get some kind of pleasure out of it.

A Revolutionary Love
 But “love” in the New Testament is a specific term for a uniquely biblical orientation toward relationships and toward life, which is best seen in the example of Jesus Christ. In fact, the kind of love that Jesus taught and displayed was revolutionary, because it was centered in giving, not getting.

In what may be the most familiar verse in all of Scripture, we might easily overlook the profound nature of Jesus’ love because we are too familiar with it: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The key to understanding Jesus’ love is the word “gave.” God the Father gave his Son, and the Son freely gave his life so that we might live. As Jesus was prepared to go to the cross, the apostle John tells us, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (John 13:1). The full extent of his love meant giving his life for us on the cross. That is the profound nature of Jesus’ love toward us, and it becomes the example of the love that we can have for one another.

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