The Love of Jesus–Balanced and Perfect

When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother told Him, “They don’t have any wine.”
“What has this concern of yours to do with Me, woman?” Jesus asked. “My hour has not yet come.”
“Do whatever He tells you,” His mother told the servants.
Now six stone water jars had been set there for Jewish purification. Each contained 20 or 30 gallons.
“Fill the jars with water,” Jesus told them. So they filled them to the brim. Then He said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the chief servant.” And they did.
When the chief servant tasted the water (after it had become wine), he did not know where it came from—though the servants who had drawn the water knew. He called the groom and told him, “Everyone sets out the fine wine first, then, after people have drunk freely, the inferior. But you have kept the fine wine until now.”

John 2:3-10

In the temple complex He found people selling oxen, sheep, and doves, and He also found the money changers sitting there. After making a whip out of cords, He drove everyone out of the temple complex with their sheep and oxen. He also poured out the money changers’ coins and overturned the tables. He told those who were selling doves, “Get these things out of here! Stop turning My Father’s house into a marketplace!”

John 2:14–16

These two passages describe the same person. While there are deep, theological truths in both stories, i’d like to simply propose these accounts as proof of John 1:14.

The Word became flesh
and took up residence among us.
We observed His glory,
the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth.

emphasis added

You see, we are so tempted to create Jesus in our own image. We are tempted to highlight the things He does that we want to justify in our own lives, and downplay the things we don’t feel like practicing.

Those who are confrontational want to emphasize Jesus’ confrontations of sinners (though you’d be hard pressed in the Gospels to find an example of this). Sure, He told the woman caught in adultery to “not sin anymore” (John 8:11), and the rich young ruler went away sad because of Jesus’ challenge to Him (cf. Mark 10:21-22), but in neither of these cases did Jesus simply tell people they were wrong. Jesus reserves His confrontations for the hypocrites–the Pharisees (cf. Matthew 23).

In John 2:14-16, John emphasizes that Jesus is full of truth by describing His confrontation of the moneychangers who were destroying the Jewish religion for the common people (much in the same way as the Pharisees). Sacrifices had to be offered in order to be “reconciled with God,” and the moneychangers were making a profit off the poor in Judaism by charging them money to be reconciled to God. Jesus is rightly angered by this, and His response makes sense.

However, earlier in the chapter, in John 2:3-10, John presents a completely different picture of Jesus. John shows that Jesus is full of grace. He provides wine for a wedding. If Jesus “confronted everyone,” as some people erroneously claim, surely Jesus would have denounced the drinking going on. Certainly, He never would have made wine that was even better than the wine that was served earlier. The wine He made was so good that people already drunk could tell this wine was of a better quality. There’s no confrontation here, because Jesus isn’t only confrontational. He also loves people enough to help them save face. (At the end of the day–apart from the theological significance of this miracle–this was Jesus’ goal. The groom didn’t provide enough wine for his guests, and he would look bad as a result; Jesus protected his reputation by making more wine for the occasion.)

However, on the other end of the spectrum, there are those who want to emphasize Jesus’ absolute compassion. They want to turn Jesus into a pushover, citing Matthew 7:1 and 7:12.

“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged.”

“Whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them.”

But excising these statements of Jesus from their contexts and arguing against all forms of confrontation completely ignores the fact that Jesus also said:

“This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed.”

John 3:19-20

The true light, who gives light to everyone,
was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world was created through Him,
yet the world did not recognize Him.

John 1:9-10

Jesus said, “For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17, emphasis added). The word for “condemn” is the Greek word krinō. In John 3:19, the Greek word for “judgment” is krisis. Krinō is the verb; krisis is the noun that describes the action of the verb. In John 3, Jesus says He will not actively judge the world, but that His life would pass judgment on the world.

One scholar explains, as regards John’s use of these words:

In all its range judgment is committed to the Son (5:22, 27). In His historical life Jesus has come to save, not to judge (3:17; 8:15; 12:47). But He cannot avoid judging (8:16).

Hermann Martin Friedrich Büchsel, “κρίνω,” in TDNT, III:938. I put the citations in parentheses.

This is worth pointing out, because even though Jesus would not actively take upon Himself the role of Judge during His earthly life, the very fact that He came into this world proves that He is the Judge. John said “the true light came into the world” (1:9; tense changed to came because of the next line), and Jesus said that the judgment is summed up in the fact that “the light has come into the world” (3:19). The very moment God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ, the world was judged. It’s a judgment that has continued for 2,000 years, because God is still present on earth through the Holy Spirit He sent.

However, this does not give Christians the right to go around condemning everything and anything we disagree with.

1 John 4:16-17 explains:

We have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world.

The love God has for us was displayed through Jesus (cf. Romans 5:8). However, a fully biblical, well-rounded, orthodox Christology must declare that Jesus is God. Everything true about God is true about Jesus. Therefore, if God is love, Jesus is also love. The way we prove that we have experienced God’s love is by remaining (or living) in love ourselves.

The whole goal of the Christian life–in a horizontal sense–is to be perfected in love so that we represent Jesus well to the people we interact with (cf. 2 Peter 1:4; “share in the divine nature”). This is why 1 John 4:17 explains that we can have confidence in the day of judgment (krisis). The more we look like Jesus, the more we can know He has been working in our lives (cf. John 3:21). And the more we know He’s been working in our lives, the more confidence we will have “in the day of judgment.”

If all we want to do is confront people “in the name of love,” then we are missing the point just as much as people who want to preach, “Jesus said, ‘Do not judge!’ Be loving!” Jesus was full of grace and truth. He was full of truth and grace. We must strive to practice both if we want to be like Jesus.

If we don’t, we are guilty of fashioning Jesus in our own image. To do so is idolatry. It is a sin that God despises. To do so is to cut yourself off from the only true source of salvation.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 14:6

When Jesus says this, He is talking about Himself, as He is. He is not talking about Himself as we conceive of Him in our own minds. This is why theology is so important. This is why the past 2,000 years of church history is so important. (I’d argue the past hundred years or so is a lot less important because any fool can publish a book describing God and there’s no guarantee it’s orthodox in the slightest, but there is an almost certain guarantee that people will eat it up and pass it along as Gospel truth.) We need to know God–in Christ–as He truly is. We do not have the capacity to know Him like this in ourselves and in our own wisdom. To try to do so is to fashion a caricature that cannot save.

The state of our souls, the state of our families’ and friends’ souls, the state of our churches, and ultimately the state of the world is hanging on our ability to know and represent Jesus to the world.

But perhaps this leaves you concerned. “I am more confrontational than Jesus,” or “I am more afraid of confrontation than Jesus.” This is good. We are all on this journey. And we will all find ourselves taking exits that lead us to one extreme or another. But if it leaves you concerned, that’s a good sign.

What is not a good sign is if we hear this message and say, “I don’t care,” “Theology is too much work,” “Theology just makes people prideful,” “I’m going to keep going my way,” “Stop being judgmental.” If you are led to one of these conclusions, then you have an idol, and it cannot save. If you are led to one of these conclusions, i fear for the state of your soul. We must uproot the idols that our hearts make. To fail to do so is to flirt with hellfire.

I have idols in my heart. You have idols in your heart. I have aspects of Jesus i want to overemphasize. You have aspects of Jesus you want to overemphasize. Whether or not we are truly saved comes down to our individual answer to this question: Do I resist calls to alter my life, or do I cry out to Jesus for the grace to help me change, and for the wisdom to see Him as He truly is? The apostle John declared:

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God.

1 John 4:15

Have you confessed this?

If so, you have confessed the Divinity of Jesus. And if you’ve confessed the Divinity of Jesus, then you’ve proclaimed that He is the perfect balance of grace and truth. And you’ve confessed that everything true of God is true of Jesus (cf. Isaiah 57:15). And, by necessary consequence, you’ve confessed that God is molding you into His image (cf. 1 John 4:16-17).

If you’ve confessed this, you need to know that you will never perfectly display it to the world. We are fallen, fallible humans. But that’s why we are supposed to “confess our sins” (cf. 1 John 1:9). There is forgiveness and grace in Jesus for those who strive to live up to the calling He has placed on our lives (cf. Philippians 3:12-14).

But if you’ve never confessed it, or if you’ve confessed it but started walking down a dangerously unorthodox road, what are you waiting for?

Call out to Him today! Confess that He is the Son of God. Confess that He is the perfect balance of grace and truth. Confess that God has revealed Himself completely in the person of Jesus. Confess that God is molding you into the image of Jesus on this earth. And pray for the grace to grow into everything that means:

  • Boldness to lovingly call out sin
  • Grace to love and be patient with sinners
  • Wisdom to know which path to take in specific situations

We must love the way Jesus loved. Full of grace and truth. If we find ourselves leaning too far one direction, we must fight to come back to balance.

We are as He is in this world.

Jesus is love–balanced and perfect. How does ours stack up?

In this with you.

Soli Deo Gloria
Sola Scriptura
Solus Christus

Thanks for reading.

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