Loving Jesus

By Rev. Dr. Brent Russett -Asbury Free Methodist

April 2nd – John 17:24-26

            A number of years ago, I travelled to a pastor’s Promise Keepers rally in Atlanta, Georgia. I gathered with 40 000 other pastors in the Georgia Dome to listen to some great speakers and some good music. The conference took place over a period of three days. There were often intermissions between speakers and during meals.

            In some of these intermissions, there were some sections of the stadium that started up a kind of pep rally chant. “We love Jesus, yes we do; we love Jesus; how about you?” Then they would point to some other section of the stadium. That section would then try to yell louder back, “We love Jesus, yes we do; we love Jesus, how about you?”

            Now I have never been a great fan of pep rallies, and I am probably a little too Canadian for this raw, raw Jesus stuff. But I wondered about the content. Is the way to love Jesus to yell about it?


            Is the way to love to sing about it? “Oh, how I love Jesus, Oh how I love Jesus, Oh how I love Jesus, because he first loved me.” Or “I love you, Lord, and I lift my voice, to worship you, oh my soul rejoice.”

            There is one thing you have to say for the evangelical church. We are great confessors. We make these great, bold statements.

            But I don’t know about you, but sometimes I wonder about how much I do love Jesus. I, like you, have made these great confessions.

            But if I love Jesus as much as I say I do, then why is getting to prayer so difficult? When Lynda and I have been apart for a while, I can’t wait to see her again. I love her. I love my kids, and I look forward to the times that we can connect.

            If I love Jesus as much as I say I do, why then is prayer, the opportunity that I have to get together with him, so difficult?

            If I love Jesus as much as I say I do, then why is a lot of my Christian walk fulfilling commitments I have made rather than living out a passion that I feel? A lot of times, I do the right thing because I know it is the right thing to do – and I know that this is better than not doing the right thing at all. But take a look at two people in love. They don’t hold hands because they have to. They do it because they want to. Now I get that love matures, and it shows up in ways that are different. But mature love is more than obligation or duty.

            Now I know that love is more than a feeling. I know that love is more than fickle emotions. But a love that is solely based on commitment is pretty dry. I don’t believe it is the kind of love we are to have for God. Jesus taught us that we are to,

Mark 12:30 (NIV)

30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 

            That kind of love goes past just mere commitment.

            If I really love Jesus the way I say I do, then why are priorities such a struggle for me. It just seems that I get my priorities all worked out, then something happens where a great opportunity is presented, or one of my routines is taken away, and I have to reprioritize. This is not a bad thing. But I notice that when my priorities get misplaced, it is usually my relationship with God that suffers. If I really love Jesus the way that I say I do, why isn’t it easier to keep him my number one priority.

            I suspect that there are many of you here who can relate to me. You have told me as much. I love Jesus, but I am so busy. I love Jesus, but I’ll drop my prayer life before I decrease the amount of television I watch. I love Jesus, but my friends seem to take priority. I love Jesus but…

            I sometimes worry that I am too like the Palm Sunday crowd. Hail Jesus. Yeah, Jesus. Go, Jesus. We love you, Jesus. But the very next week, the crowd was yelling crucify him, crucify him. That is a fickle kind of love.


            The thing of it is, for the most part, we (you and I) really want to love Jesus. Next Friday, being Good Friday, we will remember the cross in all its glory and horrible agony. We will recall the story once again on how Jesus had his beard plucked out, a crown of thorns placed on his head, his back beaten to raw flesh with a whip, he had nails driven in his hands and his feet to hang him on that cruel instrument of torture we call a cross.

            We will also remember how he could have called 10 000 angels to defeat his tormentors and spare him the pain. A legion of angels stood by, and had he given the word, they would have swooped in and rescued him.

            But he would not spare himself. Because he loved us, he died for us. The Bible says He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquity. The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes, we are healed. He went through it all for us. He loved us.

            And when I catch a glimpse of all that he has done for me, my first response is that I am unworthy of that kind of love. Which is true. None of us are.

            My second response is that I really want to love him in return. I do love him, but ever so poorly. I really want my whole heart to be his. But then I come back to a world that continually tries to compete for my affection. The vision of the cross wears off, and we are left knowing we should love him but wondering about the depth of our love.

            Have you been there?

            Now, what do we do with this? Do I just say I’ve got to buckle down and love him more? Love doesn’t really work like that. Do I just try to do more stuff to make up for my love? Well, I know that part of loving Christ is obedience to Christ. But that still doesn’t give us what we need. We get back to doing our duty. There is nothing wrong with duty. It is better than disobedience. But it is a pale reflection of real love.

            If you have your Bibles, I invite you to come with me to John 17. This is our last week in this chapter. This was the prayer that Jesus prayed the night before he was crucified. This is the ending of his prayer.

John 17:24–26 (NIV)

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Today I want to focus on verse 26 

John 17:26 (NIV)

26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

            Jesus prays, Father, the love you have for me is the love that I want to see in them. The love the father has for the Son is the same love that Jesus is praying that you will have for him.

            It is a deep, deep love. It is a great love. It is a love that is strong and true. It is the love that spoke out of the cloud at Jesus’ baptism and said, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” And Jesus’ prayer is that you will know this love. That you would love him as the father loves him.

            But you don’t get this love by pursuing love. This kind of deep, genuine, all-encompassing love comes as a byproduct. That is what this verse is saying.

Let’s look at the verse again.

John 17:26 (NIV)

26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

            Having this deep love comes as a byproduct of Christ making the Father known and continuing to make the Father known.

            Let’s take those one at a time. The verse says, “I have made you known to them.” This one is fairly easy to understand. When Jesus was on earth, he revealed who God the Father was by what he said, what he did, and how he acted. He said, if you have seen me, you have seen the father.

            When Jesus showed compassion on the multitudes, that is what God is like. When Jesus approached the woman at the well, or the woman caught in adultery and brought grace instead of condemnation, that is what the father is like. When he spoke words of wisdom. He spoke the father’s words.

            The way Jesus acted; the way he spoke showed what the father was like.

            If you want to know the character of God, get to know his son. Spend time reading the stories, listening to his words, and understanding his ways. For as Jesus said, when you have seen me, you have seen the father.

            When you get to know the father through what the son showed while he was on earth, there is a love that is planted for the son in your heart.

John 17:26 (NIV)

26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

I want you to notice the process. You don’t get to know Jesus and then love him. That is not what Jesus is saying. You get to know the father through Jesus, and then you see the Son through the father’s eyes, then you will love him.

            The way the trinity works is this. The Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit,  directs you to the Son, the Son directs you to the Father, the father gives glory to the Son, and the son gives the Spirit. Each member of the trinity has a way of directing our focus to the father. The father has a way of glorifying the Son through the work of the Spirit.

            So, when you look at Jesus, look for the Father, and the Father will cause your love for the son to grow.

            But the verse goes further than this. It says,

26  I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known. Now, this is a little odder statement. Remember that this is taking place the night before Jesus would be crucified. He is coming to the end of his life, and yet he says, “I will continue to make you known.”

            There are a couple of ways of taking this. One could say that the ultimate revelation of the character of God was the cross of Jesus, and it is. We learn a lot about God at the cross. But that hardly meets the criteria of continuing. I don’t think that Jesus is saying, “I’ll continue to make you known for one more day.”

            We could look at the resurrection. That has a lot to say about who God is. But that hardly meets the criteria of continuing. I will continue to make you known for three days. Jesus is saying I will continue to reveal who you are.

            There is a sense that Jesus is at work even here today, continuing to reveal who God is. Jesus said, that where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. He is here today. And he wants to show you the father.

            But more than this, the end of verse 26 says that he will be in us. So even when we go from here, if you are a follower of Christ, you will take Christ with you because he is in you. And he wants to show you the father. Christ is in you. The Spirit of Christ is in you. He is going to lead you into all truth. He is going to show you the Father.

            Now the thing about God the father is he is totally other than what we are; He is totally other than what he has created. You perceive the creation through your 5 senses. But you will not smell God or taste God. God is other than what he has created.

            And there would be no way for us to know God unless he showed himself to us. It would be like an ant trying to get to know a cloud. But Jesus showed us who God is and continues to show us who God is.

            The other thing about God is that he is big, infinitely big. There is more to know about God than you can learn about in a whole eternity. You could learn something new about God every day of your life and never scratch the surface of all that he is. That is why Jesus wants to continue to reveal who God the father is.

            The reason why we don’t love Jesus more is because we are not learning about God the Father more than we are. Or to say it another way, our love for Jesus is directly related to our continuing to learn about the Father.


            When we first become a Christian, there is a lot to learn about God. The learning curve is steep. But our love for God is great. After we have been a Christian for while, the learning curve flattens out. We have covered the basics. Sometimes we find our love flattens out.

            You see, the basics are easy. It is like looking for stones in a gravel pit. Everywhere you look, there is something new. But after you have picked over the surface, you have to dig a little to find new stones. Some people never get to digging.

            I know that when I say that we need to get to know God more, some of you will be thinking, we need to study the bible more. Knowing how God has revealed himself in his word is really important. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. If you start learning things about God that are contrary to what the word of God teaches – then you are learning about who God isn’t, not who he is.

            But learning about a person through reading their autobiography is one thing. It is a level of learning. You may even come to respect that person. But living in a relationship with a person is how you learn to love someone. It is the same with God. It is great to get to know him through his world. But it is living day by day in a relationship is how you grow to love him.

            Learn to hear from God. Learn to walk with God. Learn to keep in step with the Spirit. You will learn to love God as you experience God.

            God is always revealing himself. He reveals himself in nature, in a good book, through other people, in prayer, in the Bible, in all of life. The whole world is filled with the glory of God. But we miss it. We move through the air all the time – but we don’t think about it often. God surrounds us and shows up regularly, but we miss it.

            That is why he says “be still and know that I am God.” We notice more when we are still.

            I know you want your love for Jesus to grow. I know you want it to be deep. I know you want it to be more than a song or a confession, you want to love Jesus with all your heart.

            So, let me ask you this question. What have you learned about God lately? What has he been speaking to you about lately? If you can’t answer those questions, you probably have some work to do. Some heart work.

            Here is Jesus statement of reality for you.

John 17:26 (NIV)

26 I have made you known to them, (to each of you) and will continue to make you known (because he is in you) in order that the love you have for me may be in them (that is Jesus’ goal) and that I myself may be in them.”

            Over the coming week, holy week – if God prompts you – confess that you love him poorly – tell him that you want to love him better. Ask him to show you how to move forward so that you can know him better – and that you love for him might grow deeper.

Sermon Questions – Loving Jesus

John 17:24-26


1. What are you thankful for this week?

2. What are you praying about this week?

Digging in

3. Read Revelation 2:1-7 – Have you ever struggled with maintaining your love for God? What do you think gets in the way of loving God?

4. Read Mark 12:30 – Do you think this command is possible? What would a person look like who fulfilled this command?

5. Read John 17:24-26 – (Focus on verse 26th) “the love you have for me may be in them.” How would you describe the kind of love the Father has for the Son? What would a disciple of Jesus be like if this kind of love was in them?

6. Reread verse 26 and notice how this love is a by-product of knowing the Father. How did Jesus “make known” the Father? What are some things that we know about God because of Jesus?

7. Describe the process in verse 26 that allows us to have love in us? How is that process ongoing today?


8. What have you learned about God lately? What does the answer to this question tell you about your walk with God?