Sermon for Sunday, February 12, 2023

What is Love?

John 15:5-17

John 15:5–17 (NIV): 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

9 “As the Father has loved[1] me, so have I loved[2] you. Now remain in my love[3]. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love[4], just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love[5]. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love[6] each other as I have loved[7] you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s 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 so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love[8] each other.

ἀγάπη – agapē is a fascinating word in our New Testament. It is a love like no other.  You see Phileo, from the root word philos is a firmly Greek word that means for one to feel affection for.  Eros is another firmly Greek word that means romantic physical attraction.  Agape is unique as it is a Hellenized Hebrew word, a Hebrew word the Greek began to use.  It’s Aramaic!

You see, Agape is an ancient word who has its roots with the Israelites.  The word is quite primitive…original.

עָגַב     ————–)  ἄγαν – agan

                                                Hebrew —————-Greek

עֲגַב ʻăgab, aw-gab’; a primitive root; to breathe after, i.e. to love (sensually):—dote, lover.[9]

In the Old Testament, ʻăgab was used in two senses: one was inordinate love and the second for lust.  Since the Greek had a word for lust, eros, we know that Jesus is referring to the inordinate part.

What does inordinate mean?

Inordinate- Irregular; disorderly; excessive; immoderate; not limited to rules prescribed, or to usual bounds.[10]

This is HIGHLY UNUSUAL then, isn’t it.  This is how Jesus taught us how to interact with each other.  It is how he love his disciples.  It is how the Father loved him.  It is how the Father loves us!  Love is the very breath of God!

When it was the breath of God breathing into the dirt he had created, love was the reason.  When Adam and Eve sinned and cast them away from the Tree of Life and the curse of sin was now upon all mankind, love permitted God to continue to take care of them.  When the world kept running further and further away from God, LOVE kept showing up giving all people more chances than we deserve.  It is God’s love for his special creation that God had a plan to save everyone if we so choose to do so.

The love of God is not limited by rules or laws.  His love is boundless.  Yet, all humankind spends more time selling our love to other things.  We have boundless lust that we can’t control.  We have perverted the love of God and created for ourselves the things that we choose to love.

Ecclesiastes 3:9–22 (NIV): 9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

      15 Whatever is has already been,

         and what will be has been before;

         and God will call the past to account.

16 And I saw something else under the sun:

         In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,

         in the place of justice—wickedness was there.

17 I said to myself,

         “God will bring into judgment

         both the righteous and the wicked,

         for there will be a time for every activity,

         a time to judge every deed.”

18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”

22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?

[1]              ἀγαπάω – agapaō – ag-ap-ah’-o

[2] ἀγαπάω – agapaō – ag-ap-ah’-o

[3] ἀγάπη – agapē – ag-ah’-pay

[4]              ἀγάπη – agapē – ag-ah’-pay

[5]              ἀγάπη – agapē – ag-ah’-pay

[6]              ἀγαπάω – agapaō – ag-ap-ah’-o

[7] ἀγαπάω – agapaō – ag-ap-ah’-o

[8]              ἀγαπάω – agapaō – ag-ap-ah’-o

[9]              H5689 – ʿāḡaḇ – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (kjv).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 7 Feb, 2023.

[10]             Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.

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