What I want to press on you, my brethren, is the distinct present blessing, which it is our privilege to enjoy, resulting from the knowledge of the love wherewith the Father loves the Son. Well might it make the soul stagger, to hear that the love wherewith the saints are loved of God is according to that with which He loves Jesus - "as thou hast loved me." Our companionship with the Lord in glory will be the manifestation of this - then, even the world shall know it; but, without waiting for that day of manifestation, Jesus speaks here of ministering to us, by the Spirit, the present joy and comfort of it.
How is the love of the Father towards us shown, my brethren? In giving His Son to be "the propitiation for our sins." Who amongst us does not know this? But it is quite true that we can go on further, and speak of the Spirit's enabling us to believe on and prize the Son. Who is there would set so little value on the power of believing in the Son, as to say that it could arise from the human heart? It is not in the capacity that at all belongs to "the spirit of a man" to appreciate that best and blessed gift of God - "the Son." We little prize as we ought the grace which has led us to believe. But let us go on further still. All of us know that this was not of human origin, that it came from whence Jesus came - it followed the gift; but are we not accustomed to stop there? I would speak to you of that love of the Father to the Son, in which we partake through union with the Son. My brethren, let us recollect that the grace which led us to receive the Son has only put us on ground where we have to learn more of the fulness and depth of love. The special love of the Father is ours. I am not speaking now of Christ being ours, but of that which is Christ's being ours.
Observe John 17:25, 26. Is there not here a love spoken of as resting upon us because we have believed on, and love Jesus? We all acknowledge, of course, that we could not love the Lord Jesus but by the Spirit; but when we have met Him as our Saviour, when we see that beauty in Him in which the Father can rest with delight and favour - the heart that rests thus on Jesus meets the full love of the Father. My brethren, have you thought of this - that resting on the Lord Jesus you are to expect a fuller manifestation of the Father's love?
We read (John 16) "I say not that I will pray the FATHER for you: for the FATHER himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God." What is the meaning of this? Is it to take from us the comfort of the intercession of Jesus on our behalf? No; but it is intended to remove from the heart the feeling that the Lord Jesus is the originating cause of the Father's love. He has only given liberty to that love - made the way for it to flow out. It is a most mistaken, a most mischievous notion, that the standing of the Lord Jesus towards us, is that of averting the judgment of an angry God. The love of God could not, it is true, flow out fully till the work of the Son was perfected; but the gift of the Son originated in the love of God.
Again - "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my FATHER will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." Here we see communion with the Father and the Son connected with obedience; a further joy of the Father's love consequent upon obedience. Obedience itself must be the result of love, but, then, it introduces us into a fuller sense of the Father's love. Now was not this the particular kind of love in which Jesus Himself dwelt when here? - as He says, "I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." What is this but the plainest announcement that we likewise, by virtue of union with Him, may so walk, as to enjoy this full manifestation of the Father's love? But then the question might naturally arise in the mind, what amount of disobedience will hinder? and I would say, that I believe this manifestation of the Father and the Son unto our souls will be just in proportion to our obedience. The realisation of our union with Jesus at the right hand of God will work obedience in us. Then every step that we take, every act of love, every expression of love in intercession for others, makes way for this further manifestation of the Father's love. The soul urged forward by love to Him who has loved it with such a love, is introduced into a further enjoyment of love. It is one act of God's grace to urge forward the soul to obedience, another act of the same grace to meet and bless it in obedience.
We see that the burden of the commandments of Jesus Christ is, that we should love one another. What then is the character of that love which we are now to manifest towards one another? - that of the love of Jesus - self-denial, self-sacrifice - becoming poor to enrich others - forsaking things not merely that are criminal, but, it may be, even, those that are in themselves most innocent. The happy, holy course of a Christian, is to forsake anything and everything, if, by the denial of it to himself, he can minister life, or strength, or obedience, or blessing to another; - this is the course in which alone he can expect that which met Jesus (the manifested love of the Father) to meet him. You will not mistake me when I say, that it was here that the blessed Son of God learned what He never could have learned so fully elsewhere - the love of the Father. It was here, in circumstances of weakness, and trial, and suffering, He learned it so, as He never could have done at the right hand of the throne of God. And it is here, too, in the midst of the storm and trial, that we are called upon to learn the peculiar character of the Father's love. Do you think that a man that is standing alone, who judges the course of the saint to be one merely of uprightness and blamelessness, and not of self-sacrifice, do you think he will be learning the love of the Father? No! it was in the death, the sorrow of heart, the self-sacrifice of the Lord Jesus that He learned this peculiar love of the Father; and it is only as we, through grace, are led along in His path that the soul can understand and know experimentally the peculiarity of the love which rested upon Him. It is just so long as we forget ourselves, speak not of ourselves, are willing to be weak that others may be strong, to die for others, to be despised for others, that the way to the deeper understanding of the Father's love opens to us.
But how is it possible that our souls can be happy in trial, if not along with Christ in the trial? And do not our trials, beloved, often arise from the lack of that which should result from communion with Christ? If so, they are not those in which we shall be enabled to look up and expect the Father's approval of love.
My brethren, the amount of the joy which our souls should crave, is nothing short of the full shining of the Father's love which rested upon Christ. (See John 17:23.)