The Transcendent Love of God
by Don Kistler
In John 17 we are invited to listen in as Jesus talks intimately with His Father. That prayer is often called the “High Priestly Prayer” of Christ. Thinking as I do that we read the Bible far too quickly, it is not surprising to me that we have missed something that our Lord prays for that is more significant than His concern for unity. In verse 23 (and repeated in verse 26), Jesus wants believers to know that however much God the Father loves God the Son, that is how much God the Father loves all His children.
So many of us struggle to accept that God loves us; but we now ought never to struggle with how much God loves us. God loves all who are in Christ as much as He loves Christ. Hear this divinely-inspired declaration of infinite affection: “…so that the world may know that you have sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (v. 23). And in verse 26 Christ tells us that the reason He declared unto men the name of God was “that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
There you have it. God loves all true believers as much as He loves His Son. Those who are “in Christ” are loved as much as God loves Christ Himself.
This is true logically as well. In Psalm 45 we are told that “the Lord is righteous. He loves righteousness.” But nothing is more righteous than God; therefore, God must love Himself, yes, but He must love anything like Himself as much as He loves Himself. But Christ is the righteousness of God; therefore, God must love Christ as much as He loves Himself.
And not only is Christ the righteousness of God, but if we are in Him we have been made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). It is the Father’s transcendent love for the Son that led Him to make the Son pre-eminent in all things. It was the Son’s transcendent love for the Father that led Him to submit to the Father’s request that He die for those whom God had chosen to save.
But the most amazing thing is that everyone who is in Christ is loved by the Father to the same extent that Christ Himself is loved by the Father. God’s love for Himself is infinite. He loves Himself for His infinite beauty and purity. He loves the Son infinitely, for the Son is the essence of the Father. And the Father loves those for whom the Son died infinitely. Is there any better news to be heard?