One of my former seminary professors started a chapel talk by saying, “No one has ever doubted the love of Jesus.” The statement certainly caught me off guard and sent my mind racing as I thought of the numerous people I had encountered who were challenged by God’s unconditional love. “But,” she clarified, “the love of the Father is a whole other matter.”
She is right, of course. Many—if not all—of us view Jesus as a warm, cuddly, lovable Guy. He is the One who loves us so much that He died for us. But His Father? That’s the One who obliterated whole nations in the Old Testament; He’s the One who required the death of His own Son just so He could be appeased and we could be on good terms with Him. Or so go the theories.
But the funny thing is, Jesus has a different take on things. And through the pen of John, we are mercifully clued in to this reality. In John 16, Jesus gives His grandest exposition on the Holy Spirit. But then He shifts gears to talk about prayer, saying that we can pray directly to the Father ourselves. And why is this? “For the Father Himself loves you,” (John 16:27) He declares.
And such a thought was revolutionary. It was unheard of. The Father—the One who holds the universe together—loves us personally. Rather than being an exacting taskmaster, all of our Father’s actions are motivated by His love and affection for us. We need not fear Him. We need not worry that He accepts and forgives us. He didn’t need to be convinced to love us through His Son’s death. He “Himself loves” us.