Why do we love Jesus?

“Love is of God” (1 John 4:7).

Why do we love anyone? Love is not easy to explain. Basically, we love someone because of who he is. And, there are various levels of love.

For example, we love our unborn child because he is a little person and because he is our child. After the child is born our love deepens and we love him for who he is.

Why is Jesus the best-loved person in human history? Why did people love Him when He walked on earth? Why do millions love Him now, two thousand years later?

Why do we love Jesus? And how strong is our love? Some have an intense love for Jesus, whereas the love of others is rather weak.

To have a strong love for someone you must know him. In 1958, the love song was popular: “To know him is to love him.” Some of the lyrics were: “To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him, and I do, and I do, and I do.”

This certainly applies to Jesus, more than to any other person who has ever lived. Someone who knows Him, loves Him. It is difficult not to love Jesus. Our love for Jesus grows as we get to know Him better through the Scriptures. We learn who He is: what He is like, what He taught, and what He has done for us. Another line in that song is: “Just to see that smile, makes my life worthwhile.”

To prepare for this lesson I examined what the Bible says about people’s love for Jesus, and I asked some fellow Christians why they love Jesus. So many reasons exist for loving Jesus that only a few can be discussed in this lesson.

Love for Jesus was not based on physical attraction.

Isaiah wrote of the Messiah: “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2 ESV). Yet Isaiah also wrote: “Your eyes will see the King in His beauty” (Isaiah 33:17). And in Psalm 45:2 we read about the Messiah: “You are fairer than the sons of men.”

We love Jesus because of His spiritual beauty. He has the most loveable spirit of anyone who ever lived, the Spirit of God! (John 1:32).

We love Jesus because He first loved us.

One brother wrote: “Of course, ‘Why do I love Jesus?’ is answered in my head by the old children’s song: ‘Oh, how I love Jesus, because He first loved me.’ Our love for Him can never match His love for us. Yet, my love for Him is great because I know He sacrificed Himself for me, for us. These expressions are commonplace, but true.”

Indeed, “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15).

We love Jesus because He forgives our sins.

Jesus made it clear to mankind that God is willing to forgive the sins of the contrite: “And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, ‘This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.’ And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ So he said, ‘Teacher, say it.’ ‘There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?’ Simon answered and said, ‘I suppose the one whom he forgave more.’ And He said to him, ‘You have rightly judged.’ Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.’ Then He said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ Then He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace’” (Luke 7:35-50).

Sin is a debt no one can pay, whether the debt be large or small. This woman had great remorse for her sins, and she believed that Jesus could rescue her from her terrible state. Imagine how her broken heart was filled with joy when Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven” and “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Her love for Jesus was great because the burden of sin He lifted from her shoulders was great.

She obviously knew something about Jesus. Whether she had met Him, heard Him teach, or only heard about Him, we do not know. But her faith was strong enough that she dared to approach Him in tears, and her love was so strong that she dared to kiss His feet. The invitation of Jesus had touched her heart, whether she had heard these actual words or not: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28, 29).

In reply to my question, several said that they love Jesus because He accepts them and forgives them.

One brother wrote: “Perhaps I most love Him because He is willing to, and has, forgiven my sins, my continuing shortcomings and failures and mistakes, and even those things I cannot seem to keep myself from doing.”

Another brother wrote: “As for me personally, I suspect it boils down to my complete trust in his complete acceptance of me. He knows the real me and that real me does not threaten our relationship. I recognize a great sense of, even physical, peace in my relationship with Jesus, that is not always there in my other relationships! Pretty vague, I know! But in short, it is the peace I get from my relationship with Jesus that keeps me coming back for more.”

Another wrote: “Why do I love Jesus? I love Jesus because He secured my eternal salvation. I deserve to die, but He died for me and paid the price so I do not have to die.”

We love Jesus because He gives us eternal life.

“The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11). “And this is the promise that He has promised us - eternal life” (1 John 2:25). Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life” (John 10:27, 28).

When we commune with the body and blood of Christ at the Lord’s table, we have His promise: “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:54).

One brother explained that he loves Jesus because in Him his dear wife, who recently passed away, will live forever: “I love God because he knows how we humans fear Death because it claims to bring to an end all the lovely and honorable dreams we dream; because it claims to obliterate all the lovely people we know, righteous people, compassionate and kind and unselfish, and because it claims that our trust in God through Jesus Christ is profound nonsense. God has mocked all these claims by Death by raising this one man, Jesus Christ, from the dead to die no more. He enables us to dismiss the voice of all the cemeteries of the world. In and through and because of Jesus there’s a day coming when all who are embraced by the saving work of the Lord Jesus will gather and live forever in eternal joy and peace and love of righteousness.”

God’s children love Jesus.

“Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God’” (John 8:42). John explains: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him” (1 John 5:1). They who love the Father also love the Son and all of God’s children.

They who love the truth, love Jesus.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Since Jesus is the truth, He is loved by lovers of truth. “Love ... rejoices in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). Jesus said: “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). People perish because they do “not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10).

Some comments received were: “Jesus was loved because of His honesty” and “because ‘He spoke not’ as the various religious factions. He spoke with authority, but with love, and not hypocritically.”

How much did Peter love Jesus?

How would you respond if Jesus said your full name and asked you, as He asked Peter: “Do you love me?” (John 21:15).

This is one of the most touching scenes in the New Testament. Peter had boasted, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble” and “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (Matthew 26:33, 35). As it turned out, Peter was the only one who denied Jesus! And he did so three times! But when “the Lord turned and looked at Peter” he was struck with remorse and “went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61, 62).

Some days later, after the resurrection, by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus prepared breakfast for Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John and two other disciples. “So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’” (John 21:15).

In His question, Jesus uses the Greek word ἀγαπάω that refers to the highest form of altruistic love. Peter replies, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” Jesus accepts his reply and says to him, “Feed My lambs.” But Peter did not use the same word for love that Jesus used in His question. Peter used the word φιλέω that expresses affection. Both words mean “to love” but to clarify the difference, it is as though Jesus asks, “Do you love me?” and Peter replies, “You know that I have affection for you.”

Thus, Jesus asks Peter again, using ἀγαπάω, and Peter replies again using φιλέω. Jesus accepts his answer and says, “Tend My sheep.”

Then, the third time, Jesus asks, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” but this time Jesus uses the word φιλέω that has the force of asking: “Peter, do you have affection for me?” “Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep’” (John 21:15-17). Peter still uses φιλέω rather than ἀγαπάω. Peter is no longer boasting, or claiming that he loves Jesus more than others. He understates his love, with the assurance that Jesus knows how very much he loves Him.

Earlier, Peter had said that he was willing to die for Jesus. Now Jesus predicts that he will do just that, and He tells Peter, “Follow Me.” (John 21:18, 19).

How much do we love Jesus?

Jesus is worthy of our highest love. He was a tremendous man. He spoke the truth without compromise. Through His actions and words He revealed the Father. His love for us was so great that He was willing to take upon Himself the death penalty that we deserve, so our sins might be forgiven. He died for us. Are we willing to live for Him? Until our last breath, let us live for Jesus because He, until His last breath on the cross, gave His life for us. Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive