Will You Respond to Jesus’ Love?
“The love the Christ has compels us.”—2 CORINTHIANS 5:14.
1. How may the love of Jesus be described?
TRULY, how marvelous the love of Jesus is! When we consider how he suffered indescribably as he furnished the ransom, by which alone we may gain everlasting life, surely our hearts are moved with appreciation for him! Jehovah God and Jesus himself took the initiative. They loved us first, while we were yet sinners. (Romans 5:6-8; 1 John 4:9-11) Knowing “the love of the Christ,” wrote the apostle Paul, “surpasses knowledge.” (Ephesians 3:19) Indeed, Jesus’ love ascends far above academic head knowledge. It goes beyond anything else ever seen or experienced by humans.
2. What cannot keep Jesus from loving us?
2 Writing to Christians in Rome, Paul asked: “Who will separate us from the love of the Christ? Will tribulation or distress or persecution or hunger or nakedness or danger or sword?” None of such things can keep Jesus from loving us. “I am convinced,” Paul continues, “that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”—Romans 8:35-39.
3. What only can cause Jesus and his Father to leave us?
3 The love of Jehovah God and Jesus for you is that powerful. There is only one thing that can stop them from loving you, and that is your own willful rejection of their love by refusing to do what they ask. A prophet of God once explained to a Judean king: “Jehovah is with you as long as you prove to be with him; and if you search for him, he will let himself be found by you, but if you leave him he will leave you.” (2 Chronicles 15:2) Who of us would ever want to turn away from such wonderful, compassionate friends as Jehovah God and his Son, Jesus Christ?
Proper Response to Jesus’ Love
4, 5. (a) How should Jesus’ love for us affect our relationships with fellow humans? (b) Whom else should we be moved to love because of Jesus’ love for us?
4 How are you personally affected by Jesus’ unbounded love for you? How should you be? Well, Jesus showed how his demonstration of love should affect our relationships with fellow humans. After humbly serving his apostles by washing their feet, Jesus said: “I set the pattern for you, that, just as I did to you, you should do also.” He added: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:15, 34) His disciples learned, and they were moved to try to do as he did. “By this we have come to know love,” the apostle John wrote, “because that one surrendered his soul for us; and we are under obligation to surrender our souls for our brothers.”—1 John 3:16.
5 Still, we would miss the purpose of Jesus’ life and ministry if we were moved by his example simply to love and serve the interests of fellow humans. Should not Jesus’ love for us cause us also to love him in return and especially to love his Father, who taught him everything that he knows? Will you respond to Christ’s love and serve his Father as he did?—Ephesians 5:1, 2; 1 Peter 1:8, 9.
6. How was the apostle Paul affected by Jesus’ love for him?
6 Consider the case of Saul, who later became known as Paul. At one time he persecuted Jesus, “breathing threat and murder against the disciples.” (Acts 9:1-5; Matthew 25:37-40) When Paul really came to know Jesus, he was so grateful for receiving forgiveness that not only was he willing to suffer in Jesus’ behalf but he was also ready to die for him. “I am impaled along with Christ,” he wrote. “It is no longer I that live . . . Indeed, the life that I now live in flesh I live by the faith that is toward the Son of God, who loved me and handed himself over for me.”—Galatians 2:20.
7. What should the love of Jesus compel us to do?
7 What a compelling force in our lives should be the love that Jesus has for us! “The love the Christ has compels us,” Paul wrote the Corinthians, ‘to live no longer for ourselves, but for him who died for us and was raised up.’ (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15) Indeed, gratefulness to Jesus for giving his life in our behalf should move us to do whatever he asks. Only in this way can we prove that we truly love him. “If you love me, you will observe my commandments,” Jesus said. “He that has my commandments and observes them, that one is he who loves me.”—John 14:15, 21; compare 1 John 2:3-5.
8. How has the love of Jesus affected the lives of many wrongdoers?
8 Upon learning Jesus’ commandments, fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, drunkards, and extortioners in ancient Corinth responded to Jesus’ love by quitting those practices. Paul wrote of them: “You have been washed clean, . . . you have been declared righteous in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Similarly, the love of Jesus has compelled many today to make remarkable changes in their lives. “The true triumphs of Christianity were seen in making good men of those who professed her doctrines,” wrote historian John Lord. “We have testimony to their blameless lives, to their irreproachable morals, to their good citizenship, and to their Christian graces.” What a difference the teachings of Jesus have made!
9. What is involved in listening to Jesus?
9 Surely, no study can be undertaken by a person today that is of more importance than that of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. “Look intently at . . . Jesus,” urged the apostle Paul. “Indeed, consider closely [that] one.” (Hebrews 12:2, 3) During Jesus’ transfiguration, God himself commanded regarding his Son: “Listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5) It should be emphasized, though, that listening to Jesus includes more than simply hearing what he says. It means heeding his instructions, yes, copying him by doing what he did in the way that he did it. We respond to Jesus’ love by adopting him as our model, by following closely in his footsteps.
What Jesus Wants Us to Do
10. Whom did Jesus train and for what purpose?
10 Jesus’ commission from God was to preach about his Father’s Kingdom, and he trained his followers to do the same work. “Let us go somewhere else,” he told his first disciples, “that I may preach there also, for it is for this purpose I have gone out.” (Mark 1:38; Luke 4:43) Later, after extensively training 12 apostles, Jesus instructed them: “As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’” (Matthew 10:7) Some months later, after training 70 others, he sent them forth with the command: “Go on telling them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” (Luke 10:9) Clearly, Jesus wanted his followers to be preachers and teachers.
11. (a) In what way would Jesus’ disciples do greater works than he did? (b) What happened to the disciples after Jesus was killed?
11 Jesus continued training his disciples for this work. During the last evening before his death, he encouraged them with the words: “He that exercises faith in me, that one also will do the works that I do; and he will do works greater than these.” (John 14:12) The works of his followers would be greater than his because in their ministry they would reach far more people over a much larger area and for a greater length of time. Yet, after Jesus was killed, his disciples were paralyzed with fear. They went into hiding and did not carry on the work that he had trained them to do. Some even returned to the fishing business. However, in an unforgettable way, he impressed upon these seven what he wanted them, as well as all of his followers, to do.
12. (a) What miracle did Jesus perform at the Sea of Galilee? (b) What, evidently, did Jesus mean when he asked Peter whether he loved Him “more than these”?
12 Jesus materialized a human body and appeared at the Sea of Galilee. The seven apostles were out in a boat but had failed to catch any fish all night. Jesus called from the shore: “Cast the net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When the net miraculously became filled with fish to the point of bursting, those in the boat realized that it was Jesus on the shore, and they hurried to where he was waiting. After serving them breakfast, Jesus, likely looking toward the large catch of fish, asked Peter: “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” (John 21:1-15) Jesus no doubt meant, Are you more attached to the fishing business than to the preaching work that I have prepared you to do?
13. How did Jesus powerfully impress on his followers the way they should respond to his love?
13 Peter responded: “Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you.” Jesus answered: “Feed my lambs.” A second time Jesus asked: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Again Peter responded, no doubt with stronger conviction: “Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you.” Again Jesus commanded: “Shepherd my little sheep.” A third time Jesus asked: “Simon son of John, do you have affection for me?” By now Peter was really grieved. Only a few days before, he had three times denied knowing Jesus, so he may well have wondered whether Jesus doubted his loyalty. Therefore, for a third time, Peter responded, probably in pleading tones: “Lord, you know all things; you are aware that I have affection for you.” Jesus simply answered: “Feed my little sheep.” (John 21:15-17) Can there be any doubt as to what Jesus wanted Peter and his associates to do? How powerfully he impressed upon them—as well as upon any who would be his disciples today—that if they love him, they will share in the disciple-making work!
14. On other occasions, how did Jesus show the way his disciples should respond to his love?
14 A few days after that seashore conversation, Jesus appeared at a mountain in Galilee and instructed a happy convention of about 500 followers: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, . . . teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19, 20; 1 Corinthians 15:6) Think of it! Men, women, and children all received this same commission. Still later, just before ascending to heaven, Jesus told his disciples: “You will be witnesses of me . . . to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) After all this admonition, no wonder Peter, years later, said: “[Jesus] ordered us to preach to the people and to give a thorough witness.”—Acts 10:42.
15. About what can there be no doubt?
15 There can be no doubt as to how we should respond to Jesus’ love. As he told his apostles: “If you observe my commandments, you will remain in my love . . . You are my friends if you do what I am commanding you.” (John 15:10-14) The question is, Will you show appreciation for the love of Jesus by obeying his command to share in the disciple-making work? True, this may not be easy for you for various reasons. But it was not easy for Jesus either. Consider the changes that were involved for him.
Follow Jesus’ Example
16. What marvelous example did Jesus provide?
16 God’s only-begotten Son enjoyed a preeminent position of heavenly glory superior to all the angels. He was rich indeed! Yet he willingly emptied himself, was born as a member of a poor family, and grew up surrounded by sick, dying humans. He did this for our sakes, as the apostle Paul explained: “You know the undeserved kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich he became poor for your sakes, that you might become rich through his poverty.” (2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:5-8) What an example! What a demonstration of love! No one has given up more or suffered more in behalf of others. And no one has made it possible for others to enjoy greater riches, yes, everlasting life in perfection!
17. What course is set before us, and what will be the outcome of following it?
17 We can follow Jesus’ example and be of similar benefit to others. Repeatedly, Jesus urged people to become his followers. (Mark 2:14; Luke 9:59; 18:22) In fact, Peter wrote: “To this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.” (1 Peter 2:21) Will you respond to Christ’s love to the extent of suffering in order to serve his Father as he did? How beneficial such a course can be to others! Indeed, by following Jesus’ example, by fully applying the teachings he received from his Father, “you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”—1 Timothy 4:16.
18. (a) What example did Jesus set in regard to his attitude toward people? (b) How did people respond to Jesus’ personality?
18 To help people the most, we must also feel about them the way Jesus did. A prophecy said regarding him: “He will feel sorry for the lowly one and the poor one.” (Psalm 72:13) His followers could note that Jesus “felt love” for those whom he spoke to and that he truly wanted to help them. (Mark 1:40-42; 10:21) “On seeing the crowds,” the Bible says, “he felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) Even gross sinners sensed his love and were drawn to him. By his tone of voice, demeanor, and manner of teaching, they were put at ease. As a result, even despised tax collectors and harlots sought him out.—Matthew 9:9-13; Luke 7:36-38; 19:1-10.
19. How did Paul imitate Jesus, and what will be the result of our doing the same?
19 Jesus’ first-century disciples copied his loving example. Paul wrote to some to whom he ministered: “We became gentle in the midst of you, as when a nursing mother cherishes her own children . . . As a father does his children, we kept exhorting each one of you, and consoling and bearing witness to you.” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-11) Do you feel the same genuine concern for those in your territory that loving parents feel for their beloved children? Demonstrating such concern in your tone of voice, your facial expression, and your actions will make the Kingdom message attractive to sheeplike ones.
20, 21. What are some modern-day instances of persons who followed Jesus’ example of love?
20 One cold day in Spain, two Witnesses met an elderly woman on crutches whose house was freezing cold because the firewood had run out. She was waiting for her son to return from work to cut more. The Witnesses cut the wood, and they also left some magazines for her to read. When the son returned, he was so impressed by the Witnesses’ loving concern for his mother that he read the literature, started studying the Bible, was baptized, and soon entered the pioneer ministry.
21 In Australia a man and his wife explained to visiting Witnesses that they did not have money to feed their family. The Witness couple left and bought some groceries, including sweets for the children. The parents broke down and cried, saying that they were so desperate that they had contemplated suicide. Both started studying the Bible, and the wife recently was baptized. A woman in the United States who was prejudiced against Jehovah’s Witnesses reported after meeting one: “I really don’t remember what we talked about, but what I remember is how kind she was to me, and how hospitable and humble she was. I really felt drawn to her as a person. I cherish her friendship to this day.”
22. After examining Jesus’ life, what is our conclusion regarding him?
22 When we respond to Jesus’ love by doing the work that he did in the way that he did it, what marvelous blessings we can enjoy! Jesus’ greatness is obvious and overwhelming. We are moved to echo the words of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate: “Look! The man!” Yes, indeed, “The man,” the greatest man who ever lived.—John 19:5.
How Would You Answer?
□ How great is the love of Jesus?
□ Whom should Jesus’ love cause us to love, and what should his love compel us to do?
□ What work does Jesus want us to do?
□ How was Jesus rich, and why did he become poor?
□ How should we imitate Jesus in the way he ministered to people?
[Picture on page 15]
Jesus set the pattern of showing love
[Picture on page 17]
Jesus illustrated powerfully how his disciples should manifest love for him