BackDoor Bible Series
The Purpose of Love
To help us realize that the goal of the greatest commandment is union and intimacy with Christ.
John 15:14-15, 1 Cor 13, Mark 12:28-29, John 14:21-24
Michael W. Smiths, Secret Ambition, from the video Album, Two x Four
Inclusion Activity/ Discussion:
Discuss the next 2 questions in small groups for about 5 minutes.
Return to large group
Q. How many commandments were there? Does anyone know?
A. Jewish scribes interpreted 613 .... 365 Do Notís and 248 Do's
So which one is the greatest ?
Read Mark 12:28-34 .. Greatest commandment
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' Mark 12:29-30 (NIV)
Read 1 Cor 13:4-8
Here we have scriptures major description on the nature of love
(ask for and have attributes of love written on the board)
Now there is one aspect of love here that you have not listed, let me share a story about it with you.
The BackDoor: The Kingís Son II
There once was great king who ruled a vast kingdom. Now the king was very powerful and all of his subjects feared him greatly. They all knew that the king ruled fairly but severely punished disobedience. To go against the king meant certain death. Now the king had a son and being the only son of the king he was also very rich and possessed everything he wanted. However despite all his riches the son did lack one thing. You see being the son of the king, he had lots of servants but no friend and no bride.
Now from time to time the king and his son would take a ride through the kingdom. They did this on their horses and when they did they would take some of their mounted guards with them. On one these trips they passed a small village and the son often noticed some people working in a field. Among the group was a young woman that caught his eye. The son stopped to watch her for a moment and then got off his horse and approached her. He wanted to talk to her but as he approached, the woman quietly bowed to him and remained face to the ground while he spoke. Their chat was simple and brief yet the woman remained face down until the King and his son left to continue their ride. As the son rode on that day his face began to show great disappointment and his father the king noticed it.
When they got home, the King went to his son and asked what was troubling him. The son replied " I am rich and blessed beyond measure he said, yet I have no bride or even friends to share it with. I wish I had someone to be my companion. Someone to spend time with and to love but everyone I meet seems to be afraid of me.
The King the asked, How important is this to you? "Very", said the son, "I often think I would give all I have just to have a bride and some friends". At this the King thought a moment. Then he said, come with me. He led the son down to the stable where the servants kept the horses. Here he spoke for a minute to the head stable keeper and then turned to the son.
Son, he said, as long as you are known to our subjects as my Son, they will do everything you ask. If you ask one to come to dinner he will accept, if you ask another to be your bride she will say yes but all these will agree for one reason. They will agree because you are the son of the king and because they fear my power. If you wish them to truly be your friends because they want to, you must become as one of them. Are you willing to do this for love?. The Son thought for a minute and then with a determined grin said "Yes!"
The king then instructed the son. First take off your royal clothing and put on the clothes of the stable boys. The son did so and said "Ok Iím ready now - lets go", but the king did not move. Instead he said "For the next 3 years you will work here in the stable. Here you will not only start to look like them but also lean what it is like to be like them. And with that the king turned left. The son was shocked," 3 years here!" he said. Yet despite his disappointment he set to work executing the chores given him by the stable master and during the next 3 years the son worked hard. His hands grew callused and he learned what is was like to be tired and dirty and hungry. And each day while he worked he longed for the day to come when he could go and join those subjects who might become his friends. He also dreamed of what it would be like to have a bride.
When three years had passed the king returned and took his son from the stable. He gave him a new set of clothes that looked much like those the poorest of his subjects wore and took him to the field where he had once tried to speak to the maiden.. There he sent him off on his journey to find friendship and love. As he said goodbye, he gave the son one final instruction. When you have found a bride, come back to this field and light a signal fire. Then I will return for you. Then the King left.
Once alone, the son set out walking and by nightfall he found a village. There he found a place to sleep in a small barn. The next day, he noticed some people working in a field and asked the land owner if he could join them. He agreed and he began to work along side them.
Over the next 3 years the son worked and lived in this village and because of his great love for people he made many friends. He worked with them, he played with them and he cried with them and as he did he became close to many. And just as he hoped, he also became friends with the maiden who had caught his eye 6 years before. They spent a lot of time together and she grew to love him even more than his other new friends. One spring day he asked her to become his bride and she joyfully agreed.
The time came for his wedding and he decided to use the occasion to announce to all his friends just who he was. That day the son was so excited he ran all day long back to that field where he had started his journey and lit the signal fire just as his father had instructed him 3 years before. As he laid in bed that night he thought, " Tomorrow would be such a wonderful day for after his wedding he would take all of them back to his palace for the best party he could imagine. Now at last, he mused, I have found love and friendship and all it offered freely for me.. I am so excited, for now I can tell my friends who I really am and take them out of this poverty . As the son fell asleep that night he was full of joy.
The next day, just before the wedding, the son called all his friends together for the announcement. There were and over a hundred noisy gleeful people assembled in the village courtyard and he was just about to make the announcement, when suddenly a great mounted party of riders arrived. It was the procession of the king and all the sons friends suddenly became very quiet. A few of them quickly left the courtyard and others pulled back from the procession and hid themselves in the buildings and a look of fear came over the faces of those who remained. As they watched the kings guard filled the courtyard, the kings then entered, dismounted his horse and walked right up to their friend. To their surprise, their friend embraced the king and spoke something to him. They watched silently, wondering what would happen next.
After a minute or two of speaking to the king, the son got up and stood on the backs of 2 horses. All remained silent as he spoke and this is what he said.. "My friends, I am the son of the King, the Prince. I have spent these last 3 years with you and have found great friendship here. Now that I am to be married, I want you all to go me and live as guests in the palace of my father the king". But as he spoke, he was surprised to see that the faces of his friends were all full of fear. Many more were now leaving the courtyard and the son turned to look at his closest friends. Much to his amazement, even their faces had turned white and turning quickly to his bride, he found her once again face down on the ground.
Seeing this he turned to his father the King and cried "Why is this?, Father, Why do they still fear us?. The King motioned to the captain of his guard and the captain came forward and held out an open book. The son took it and began to read. In the book was a list of names and as he read them he recognized them as the names of each of his friends. Beside each name was crime against the king, a date and a sentence. In every case the sentence was death. As the son read name after name, crime after crime, tears came to his eyes . Now the awful truth became clear, his friends fear him because they knew they had broken the kings laws and now that he was here, they were under the sentence of death. The sons sadness grew as he read name after name until his eyes fell on the name of his bride to be. At seeing it, his heart broke from grief.
The son now turned quietly to the father .. Father he said, I have found great joy in the love of these, is there no way they can be spared? The father saw the sonís grief and his own heart was torn. My son he said, "We cannot break our own laws for they are our word. The penalty for disobedience must be paid. The only way they can be spared is someone pays their penalty for them, but since everyone of them has broken the law there is no one who can take anotherís place. The son thought for a moment and then asked, Father, Can I take their place ? "Yes", the King said, but not for all, only for those who believe that what you do is for them.
With that, the son turned to his bride. His strong arms lifter her from the ground and he looked into her fearful eyes. You are all under the penalty of death, yet I love you and my father has given me permission to take your sentence that you might live. Remember me and why I have done this.
The son then placed himself in the arms of the Kingís guard. The captain of the guard took him, bound him and right there in the middle of the courtyard put him to death by sword. The King did not speak again but quietly watched his son die. The Kings guard then took the sons body and placed in on horse and the whole kings procession silently left the courtyard.
The people left in the courtyard were in shock at what they had seen yet most felt relieved that they had not been killed. In the next few days they spent quite some hours trying to understand exactly why the king had killed their friend. Ultimately most concluded that their friend must have been a really bad criminal and before long forgot the event had even happened. The fact that no one ever saw the king out riding again made everyone rest much easier and the incident was soon forgotten.
But one person did not forget the incident. One person did not forget their friend. For you see, that maiden who had come to love the son so much could never forget her love for him. Nor could she forget the speed with which this man had given hi sown life for her. No she could not forget and she not only remembered him but loved him freely with all her heart for all her life. For now the fear was gone.
Video: Secret Ambition
I believe the most important thing you need to learn in life is how much Jesus loved you and how much he wants you to freely love him. For love is not something that power can command for if it was, when you commanded it and received it, it would not be the very thing you wanted.
Does love have a purpose? Does love have a goal or is an end in itself? Scripture says hold to Faith Hope and Love but he greatest love - why? 1 Cor 13 says that gifts will cease but Love will not!
Key Message: Lets go back to Mark 12:28-34 which we all read a few minutes ago. Review it. Now most of us have heard this and focus on the portion of the text which commands is to love the Lord in Vs 30, yet just preceding the command is an interesting statement about God, in vs 29. Here we find a statement about the unity of God. . It says the "Lord is one". then it gives the two greatest commandments. Is is possible that the purpose of love is union? Could it be that God desires union or oneness with his created beings just as Christ is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit?
Inclusion Activity/ Discussion:
The Greeks had 3 words for Love
Both Philos and Agape are action words. They are based in love driven by decisions and involve feelings that occur in response to respect, value and actions of love. Eros is a word describing a feeling and a desire for sexual union.
Have groups spend 5 minutes discussing the differences between the three types and how union between people is affected by each.
Return to large group .. ask What is intimacy ?.
Is intimacy great or what? When you have no one to be intimate and close too there is a "completed-ness" that is missing. I believe that intimacy and union are almost synonymous and when union occurs at any level the result is fulfillment, joy, and happiness.
Intimacy in the Old Testamant has 3 elements described by the 3 Hebrew words ..
Handout Intimacy Checklist .. (see Appendix A) and discuss our needs for the items mentioned there and our need for God to fill them.
Return to Large group,
Ask - Is it possible that the goal of the greatest commandment is union?
I believe that intimacy and union are closely related and when they exist in a relationship, feelings of completeness, fulfillment, joy and happiness follow. These are the result of traveling the road of love. Yet back at the beginning and underneath it all are respect and value and these are built by spending time with someone who you began to admire from a distance.
Jesus wants to be in union with you. Col 1:16 tells us that we created for Christ and Prov 8:23-31 tell us that during creation He delighted in mankind and was full of joy when He was close to us. I think the greatest commandment is what it is, because Jesus wants to return us to the place of union with him that gave him such joy. He wants you and I to be intimate with him the way it was in the beginning. He wants to be your closest friend, your closest lover! Think about it! In John chapter 15, Jesus make a interesting statement to his servants.
You are my friends if you do what I command. 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. John 15:14-15 (NIV)
Here he offers to elevates his servants to friends and describes what makes the difference. Do you know the difference between a friend and a servant? Read the verse again!
A friend is one who knows you so well and cares about you so much that he does the things he knows you like motivated not by command, as would an obedient servant, but motivated by love! How much more is this true of a lover.
Martin Luther used to be a monk and after reading the ten commandments he would go to confession every day for 3-6 hours. Now what possible could a monk be doing that would require such confessions. Well Iíll tell you- he was confessing his failure to love the lord with all his heart, for he was a lawyer before he became a monk and was strongly aware of his failure to comply with it.
So tell me, are you reflective about your love for the Lord or do you solely focus on obeying his rules? Certainly we must know Gods ways to be able to please him, but I think that love is what motivates obedience and how often do you think about how loving you are towards God?
Read John 14:21-24 ..
Here John tells us that our actions of love are our obedience to his commands. ! Here we find that love and obedience go together. One begets the other but which is first. ? Does obedience equal love or does love motivate obedience. Romans chapter 3 makes clear that the law (rules) is useless in restraining sin. In fact the law was given not to control sin but to reveal it to men. It is the love relationship with Christ that motivates obedience, is the same love relationship that fills the emptiness and brings joy and happiness. So much sin and its resultant pain today comes from the search happiness outside of an intimate relationship with Jesus.
Do you want more happiness in your life, more freedom over sin, more motivation to reach out to others, more peace in your life, more joy and less fear.. if you do, make a love relationship with the Lord Jesus your goal and seek to increase your intimacy and union with Him? Make your love relationship with him important. Ask him to help you love him, spend time with Him, dwell on what He has done for you, and always remember your value to Him. For you were worth dying for.
Have group pray and while doing so lead with these questions.
Closing song:I love you lord, and I lift my voice
To worship you, Oh my soul rejoice
Take joy my King, in what you hear
May it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear.
Read the following poem
Of Love and Guidance
Appendix A: Intimacy Needs