Wednesday, October 29, 2014
HIS LOVE, OUR LOVE
The contrast in verbal structure between His love and our love is instructive. When Jesus said, "I have loved you," he used the indicative mode of expression in past time. This is the mode of fact. That He has loved us is a factual statement. Our love is expressed in the present tense and subjunctive mode (αγαπατε). The present tense indicates ongoing, continuous love. We are to love one another with an ongoing love. Therein lies the challenge for it is easy to love another when all is going well in our relationships but our love is to be an ongoing love even in the bad times. The subjunctive mode of expression is the mode of probability not fact. Here the probability is connected to a command or expectation. We are not guaranteed to love as He loved but we are expected to love as He loved.
As we unpack the verse more, we see that this is a purpose clause. Our love is introduced with the little word "in order that" (ινα). The purpose of His love for us is that we should love one another. He expects us to love each other because He loved us, and that is precisely why He loved us in the first place. The pronoun - "each other" (αλληλοις) - is a reciprocal pronoun. The love he purposed for us is a reciprocal love between us. The next verse makes clear that the love Jesus is talking about here is among the disciples. We are to experience a reciprocal love by mutual expression.
Christians are known by our reciprocal love for each other as an ongoing habit of our lives. The purpose of Jesus' love for us is for us to love each other. He expects to see that love visible in us. When we fail to love each other, we fail to meet His expectations for us. Sadly, He suffers as much by our unloving actions in the church as He did by His loving sacrifice on the cross.