Bible Verse: “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5)

Scripture Reading: Matthew 17:1-13

His face broke into a big smile as he leaned across the table and said, “God finds you fascinating”. We were sitting across from each other at a small table in Starbucks. It’s a public place and this conversation almost felt awkward. Beaming from ear to ear he went on, “God loves you. You are his child and he is doting on you.” Wow – what do you say in response? I sat there and tried to take it all in.

The start of Jesus’ public ministry began with clarity about his love connection with the Father. At his baptism, Jesus heard these words, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). His ministry hadn’t even started. He hadn’t “done anything,” and yet Jesus knew he was loved by the Father.

The Father’s love defined his life and ministry. When challenging situations arose, he was unshaken. He had heard the Father speak love into his own heart. Nothing else mattered. The heart of Jesus was in sync with the heartbeat of the Father and the rhythm was defined by love.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus would often return to be alone with the Father, receiving daily reminders of God’s love. His love connection with the Father filled him with love for his disciples. He explained it to them this way, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” (John 15:9).

As the shadow of the cross loomed large on the horizon, you can imagine Jesus turning to the Father with the following request, “Abba Father, say it again”. Then, on the Mount of Transfiguration, together with three of his disciples, he heard it again, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him” (Mark 9:7)! The Father’s love sustained him even in his darkest hour.

Jesus told his disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34 – 35). John, one of his disciples added the following, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4: 8).

Does the love of the Father define you, your relationships and your ministry in the world as a disciple? Self-less love for others does not come easily, nor does it come naturally. It comes as a gift from the Father, through his Son, Jesus Christ. Go to the foot of the cross and you will hear him say it again, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love”.

— Paul Kroeker, author, in In the Way of Jesus

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