Words of Faith 12-5-16
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2016
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."
“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again.” Did Jesus understand that the love of His Father was conditional? Most commentators skirt around this either by saying that Jesus earned additional “special love” from the Father as a result of His obedience or by moving on to the next verse.
Here is the problem: If the love of the Father for Jesus was conditional, then it is different from all the rest of His love, which is unconditional. If the love of the Father for Jesus was incomplete and “added to” as a result of His obedience, then the Father was “holding back”. This defies the very nature of God. God is love. He does not love partially or incompletely.
So how do we find the meaning here? The KJV has the more traditional wording: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” The NASB says: "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.” A better understanding is to say that the reason for the Father’s love is the goal of redemption.
The reason for the Father’s love in Jesus is the laying down of His life for the sheep. The Love-purpose of the Father at work in Jesus is the redemption of broken humanity through death and resurrection. We might hear Jesus say: “For the reason of my Father’s love in me, I lay down my life—only to take it up again.”
The image of the shepherd that is willing to lay down His life for the sheep is a powerful one. The laying down of the Good Shepherd’s life did not happen one day in Jerusalem. Really it began with the incarnation!
The ever-existent Christ, Who was in very nature God, did not consider His equality with God something to cling to, but made himself nothing. Taking the very nature of a servant, He was made in human likeness and given the name Jesus. All of His earthly life, Jesus was laying down His life. He set aside any concern for self and instead turned His life toward others. He humbled Himself. Finally, He became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! (Phil. 2:5-8)
No one took Jesus’ life from Him. No one had that power. Rather, He chose to lay down His life of His own accord and authority and then to take it up again. This was the command of the Father and yet the choice of the Savior.
The Spirit of God in us will manifest this same love in our day to day living. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16).
This is the same love that Paul spoke of saying, “For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died” (2 Cor. 5:14). Of course we CAN not and NEED not die an atoning death for others, but we are called to lay down (aside) our lives for others. We are called and empowered to set aside self in order to love, serve and give as the Father leads us.
Have you experienced the remarkable love of God in Christ Jesus? Have you encountered the incredible redemptive power of His life laid down sacrificially for You? Have you surrendered to the power of that same love manifest in the Spirit within You?
Father, thank You for love so amazing, so divine. Thank You for Your love expressed with such magnificence in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Manifest Your love in me. In Jesus’ name.
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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2002, 2016
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.