(By Angela Watson)
As I read, I saw her look up at me with the same surprise I was feeling. Had I read the words correctly? I read them again…
“I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me” (John 17:23).
Could God really love us as much as He loves Jesus? There are many verses we could look at that would tell us that God loves us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Perhaps you are familiar with the children’s book “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney. As Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare take turns using words and measurements to find a way of describing just how much they love each other, they discover that love is not an easy thing to measure.
God didn’t just tell us He loved us, but He gave us a measure so that we would know just how much we are loved. These words in John 17:23 were spoken by Jesus in prayer to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane just before Jesus was betrayed and arrested. As Jesus was about to become the measurement to demonstrate God’s love for us.
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).
How can we know that God loves us as much as He loves Jesus? God’s love was proved with actions – He gave Jesus, His only, perfect Son to die for us, sinners. Romans 8:32 tells us that He did not spare His own Son but freely gave Him up to save us. Through salvation we become children of God and not just children, but also His heirs; Romans 8:17 tells us, “In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.”
We have been elevated from sinners to being joint-heirs with Christ.
Not only can we have confidence to say that God loves us as much as He loves Jesus, but Romans 8 assures us that we can never be separated from God’s love.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
As my daughter and I sat there staring at each other with our mouths open, I wondered, “could this really be true?” The thought then came to my mind, “well if that isn’t love”… And the old familiar song came to mind:
‘If That Isn’t Love” by Dottie Rambo
He left the Splendor of Heaven
Knowing His destiny
Was the lonely hill of Golgotha
There to lay down His life for me.
If that isn't love
The ocean is dry
There's no stars in the sky
And the sparrow can't fly
If that isn't love
Then Heavens a myth
There's no feeling like this
If that isn't love.