Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Agapè-love Crucified

Morning time with God: Part 1


As soon as I woke up this morning, the Spirit showed me today’s lesson: that the whole while Jesus was being despised and rejected of men,[1] he was demonstrating the agapè-love of God through everything he endured.[2]

This is unfathomable to me. Jesus was the only person who lived such a righteous life that he was not only worthy of our respect and admiration but was worthy of our worship and attachment as Immanuel, “God with us”.[3]

And yet, when he experienced utter despising and rejecting from the people he himself had created, he responded with unceasing, unfailing, and undiminished agapè-love.


Morning time with God: Part 2


As I was typing this out in a sharing email to our home church, God expanded this for me in a very helpful and encouraging way.

It started with me clarifying that the love Jesus expressed to his brothers, the love he expects us to express towards one another, is indeed the agapè-love that has been so central to our understanding of attachment to God.

I now summarize agapè-love as the distinctive love that seeks God’s best for someone. It is the love Jesus told his disciples to have for our enemies. It doesn’t require attraction whatsoever in order to have a genuine desire for an opponent to know God’s very best.

In the following Scriptures, I am simply identifying that each time Jesus refers to love, it is agapè-love. In other words, he is not telling us to have the affectionate love of friendship, or the affectionate love of family, or the affectionate love of marriage (even though in English we use the same word “love” for all these attachments).

Instead, when we understand that he was using a very distinct word in the Greek language, “agapè”, we can get a sense of how this love transcends normal affections (while making each of the appropriate affections rise up to their highest expression), and calls us to see people through the eyes of God’s perfect goodness.

On the night of Jesus’ arrest, as he prepared his disciples for the impending trauma they would experience because of his suffering (how agapè-loving is that!), look at how central agapè-love was to him: 

  • “A new commandment I give to you, that you agapè-love one another: just as I have agapè-loved you, you also are to agapè-love one another.”[4]
  • “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have agapè-love for one another.”[5]
  • “This is my commandment, that you agapè-love one another as I have agapè-loved you.”[6]
  • “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”[7]
  • “These things I command you, so that you will agapè-love one another.”[8] 

When Jesus told the disciples that they would be his friends if they did what he commanded, he wasn’t saying that we prove our friendship by obedience. He wasn’t saying that, if we are his friends, we will keep the Ten Commandments.

No, what he was saying was that, as they were about to witness God showing “his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”,[9] the way they would walk with him in friendship was if they became like him in agapè-loving others.

Have we not seen this, that groups of friends unite around similarities? People are friends because they share the same interests, values and worldviews.

So, Jesus was not telling his disciples that they could attain the level of friendship with him if they met the requirements of obeying everything he ever commanded.

No, he was telling them that his whole focus, the thing he commanded, the thing that someone would need to have in their lives to share the same interests, values and worldview as Jesus, was showing the same agapè-love to one another as he was expressing to them.


Morning time with God: Part 3


What is the connection between Jesus showing unceasing, unfailing, and undiminished agapè-love through the whole time he was despised and rejected of men, and Jesus calling us to agapè-love one another as he has agapè-loved us?

Simply that his expectation that we agapè-love one another would include every time we feel despised and rejected by others, particularly those who claim to walk in the agapè-love of Christ.

Does that mean we are to suppress all our feelings of hurt and heartache when we are despised and rejected by family, friends and fellow believers?

No. That’s the whole point of connecting the dots, that our sympathetic high priest knows our weakness when we are despised and rejected because he endured the same temptations as ourselves, but without every sinning.[10] Him being “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief[11] tells us that he associates very well with the sorrows and griefs of his brothers.


Morning time with God: Conclusion


Jesus’ life of love carries with it the sense of, “You go, and do likewise.”[12] This comes out clearly in the exhortation to, “be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”[13]

The agapè-love that God demonstrated on the cross, and exemplified in the gracious gift of redemption, is the same love we are to have for everyone, even when it involves being despised and rejected of men. And, since Jesus already gave us his example, and the Holy Spirit is with us to enable us to do the will of God, we can certainly tell God we are willing to go and do likewise, and then accept whatever changes God will make to transform us into the likeness of his Son.


© 2021 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)



[1] Isaiah 53:3

[2] Romans 5:8 (agapè-love is the distinctive Greek word used for the love of God, and the love God calls his children to express to him, one another, and even our enemies).

[3] Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23

[4] John 13:34

[5] John 13:35

[6] John 15:12

[7] John 15:14

[8] John 15:17

[9] Romans 5:8

[10] Hebrews 4:15

[11] Isaiah 53:3

[12] This was Jesus’ conclusion to the parable of the Good Samaritan. As it was the one who showed mercy to the injured man who truly loved his neighbor, Jesus called people to do likewise in all their dealings with one another.

[13] Ephesians 5:1-2

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