But how did Jesus love his disciples?
Did Jesus give his disciples a comfortable life?What we see from these passages is that God's love is primarily revealed in cleansing us from sin. This cleansing incorporates the forgiveness of sins bought for us by the blood of Christ, and also a changed behavior imparted through the Holy Spirit, an effect of which will be brought to perfection upon our resurrection.
Did he keep them free from experiencing suffering and persecution?
Did he not in fact at times lead them into such circumstances?
Was his purpose to fulfill their desires and goals in life or for them to fulfill his? (2Cor 5:15)
What did Jesus do for his disciples?
Romans 5:8-10 "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from Godís wrath through him! For if, when we were Godís enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"
And so also Ephesians 5:25-27 "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."
But how do we apply this? We can't atone for someone else's sin, but as Paul writes "Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christís afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church." Colossians 1:24 What of course was lacking was the fulfillment of the great commission Jesus gave to his disciples to make disciples of all nations. And this we can all be involved in by passing on the teachings of Christ and his apostles, the Holy Spirit of course working with and through us "until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."Eph 4:13
But this is only part of the larger commission of Matt 28:19,20 of the teaching ministry to make disciples of all nations. Imagine a mother that simply wants to give birth to children, even many children, only to give them away to be raise by someone else and having little concern of their further development. Yet much of the Christian community seems to have a non-Discipleship evangelism mentality. Yet in fact the best evangelism often occurs in the midst of discipleship as we can infer from the discipleship ministry of the Lord. Often it's in the midst of the convert learning the walk as Christ walked that they suddenly realize what it means to believe in Christ. For it was not immediately after crossing the Red Sea that Israel entered the promise land. (See "Becoming a Christian") Unregenerate "converts" are like zombies - the walking dead - whose attitude and behavior does not reflect the living. Why is it that the world often faults Christianity for its often wicked behavior? Mostly because of zombies who become like birds nesting in its branches, the tares among the wheat, a yeast infection in the dough. Jesus is not simply looking for any bride. He is looking to develop a bride without stain, blemish, or any wrinkle.
So also we notice the primary command Jesus gave reflects the call to
disciple other Christians, as he said, "A new
command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must
love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples,
if you love one another." John 13:34,35 This comes hand
in hand with believing in Jesus. "And this
is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to
love one another as he commanded us." 1John 3:23,24 And in fact
know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.
Anyone who does not love remains in death." 1 John 3:14 Thus those not involved in this process of loving other Christians are dead, regardless of what they call themselves or what they claim to believe. This is not a condition for salvation, but rather the condition a saved person finds himself in. For it is natural for children of God to love one another. 1John 3:10 "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John 5:1-4 "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world."
This effect can well be understood as a general principle of vertical relationships. Naturally the degree to which a servant sets his heart on doing his master's will is the degree to which the master will take him into his confidence. In business generally employees who keep their boss's best interest at heart, diligently carrying out his will tend to be trusted with more and more likely promoted. So also in the military. Thus Jesus uses this in his parables saying, "ĎWell done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your masterís happiness!í"Matt 25:21 And in the family it's the children who obey their parents who naturally experience a special love from them which the rebellious do not. And which their role matures from that of a boundary restricted dependent to one of independence. This is the case in all vertical relationships including that of the husband/wife relationship which is a reflection of Christ and the church.
The "showing myself to him" and "making our home with him" however leads to greater responsibilities, being put in charge of many things, which is a different concept of reward compared to for example that of militant Islam's of having sex with 72 virgins! The more we know God, the more responsibilities are incurred, not as punishment but as reward for faithful service. And so also there is an experience of maturing of going from restriction to freedom as we walk as Jesus did.