Agape / Love
Advent Series
Biblical love refers to more than just a feeling. It's about caring for someone regardless of their response, and it's modeled perfectly by Jesus.
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Questions for Personal Reflection or Group Discussion:

  1. When Jesus arrived, God’s love became an embodied reality in our world. The God of the Bible doesn’t merely express love through Jesus; he is love. As a triune God—Father, Son, and Spirit—he always has been and forever will be an others-centered, self-giving, communal being who thinks, feels, and acts with pure love. Read 1 John 4:16 and John 15:9-13, taking note of the triune relationship and the theme of living and abiding. What do you observe?
  2. Read Mark 12:29-31 and take note of how Jesus quotes the Hebrew Bible (Deut. 6:4-6; Lev. 19:34). How does loving God relate to loving other people?
  3. The Hebrew Bible records the history of the ancient Israelites as they struggle to follow the commandment to love God and others. If Israel had difficulty with this, how can we hope to do any better? Jesus helps us when he adds a new commandment to empower the greatest commandment. Compare John 13:34 with Mark 12:29-31. What is the difference between these two commands? How does Jesus enable us to follow the greatest commandment?
  4. Agape love is not primarily a feeling that happens to people. This kind of love is a choice to act in ways that offer well-being to others. Using Paul’s definition of love from 1 Corinthians 13:1-7, consider how Jesus loves us. How is Jesus patient, kind, humble, and selfless toward us? How does this kind of love challenge more popular, modern notions?
  5. Jesus says that the ultimate standard of authentic love is how well you treat the person you can’t stand—your enemy. Let that settle in as you read Luke 6:27-36. Notice how God shows kindness to ungrateful, dishonest, and violent people. What does this say about God’s character? Consider how verse 36 describes God. How do you think love and mercy relate to one another?

A Time of Hopeful Anticipation

For centuries, Christians around the world have used the four weeks leading up to Christmas to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. It’s a time when we observe his first coming while also looking forward to his second coming. In the four weeks of Advent, we meditate on hope, peace, joy, and love.

The Prince of Peace Arrives

The Hebrew Bible ends with God’s people still waiting expectantly for the ultimate king—the anointed one who would bring peace to the world. In the book of Isaiah, we read this prophecy about the long-awaited Messiah: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulders. And his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

When Jesus was born, angels announced his arrival on Earth by declaring, "I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a savior, who is Christ the Lord."

And Still We Wait

Jesus’ arrival activated the promises of God and the prophecies of the Hebrew Bible. The Gospel accounts declare Jesus to be God in human form, his son who came to earth to reconcile God’s people back to their covenant partnership with God. During Advent, we join in a centuries-long tradition and we wait. Just like God’s people eagerly awaited the arrival of the Messiah, we remember their hope and we still look forward to Jesus’ final return when he will reunite Heaven and Earth in the new creation. He is the ultimate King, who embodies God’s peace, joy, hope, and love and came to earth so that we might be united with God again.

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