Joseph Prince - Find Freedom In His Perfect Love
Let me ask you this question: What's the sum total of the law? What's the greatest of all commandments? People think that "well, Jesus gave us the commandment". No, Jesus was asked the question. He had to answer. He was asked the question, "Master, Rabbi, what is the greatest commandment of all"? So don't forget, he was asked the question. Jesus said, "You know the commandments. 'Thou shall love the Lord.' Hear, O Israel, 'Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, all thy soul, all thy mind, all thy strength.' And the second is like unto it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" Are you listening? Jesus says, "Upon this, hang all the law and the prophets. These are the greatest commandments of all the commandments". How many can say, "Amen"?
All right, don't forget he was asked the question. He had to answer. When they ask him, "What's the greatest commandment"? He gave that as the greatest commandment, right? So for 1500 years, God put men under the law. Even David failed. Until Jesus came, God says, "All right, love me. Love me with all you can. Love me with all your heart". Everyone failed. Nobody could keep that commandment. "With all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength". There was one that did it, and he walked by the shores of the Galilee. He's the only one. And so, after 1500 years, God says, "Enough. Now, I'm gonna love you with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength". And today we love because he first loved us.
You know what is the definition of love? We say, "Love is patient and kind". No, those are the characteristics of love. You know there's a verse that says: "This is love"? Look up here in 1 John 4, verse 10. It says: "This is love... in this is love, not that we loved God". Stop. Now, isn't that the greatest commandment of all the commandments in the Old Testament? C'mon, people, you can talk to me. It's okay. The greatest commandment, "Love God with all your heart," right? But John is saying: "This is love, not that we loved God". Now, either John has done us wrong by teaching us that, or John has a revelation that's beyond, something that an average person under the law would understand. "Not that we loved God," the law, "but that He loved us," grace, "and that He sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins," amen.
Now, if you stay here all the way to tonight, you will probably feel cold. It will increasingly get colder and colder. So if I tell you, "Stay in the sun, while the sun is still there, stay in the sun," can you understand when I tell you, "Keep yourself in the love of God"? A lot of people have this idea, "Keep yourself in the love for God," but in the book of Jude, look up here, it says: "Keep yourself in the love of God for you". Be conscious of the love of God for you, amen? There was a disciple, I mentioned just now, John wrote that: "This is love," because he should know better. He calls himself the disciple whom Jesus loved.
And many years ago, I thought when I heard that preached, that John knew something that none of us knew because Jesus loved him in a special way compared to all the rest. I said, "Lord, I wanna be the disciple whom Jesus loved. Give me your secret, Lord". And the Lord said to me, "It only appears in John's own Gospel". So what was John doing? It's like, the other day I spent time with Samuel Smudja, Brother Samuel, Brother Matt Crouch, and I go home and I write in my diary, which no one has anymore, and I said, "Last night, Brother Samuel, Brother Matt, and the brother whom Jesus loved met for coffee".
Now, how many know that Jesus loves them just the same, c'mon? But Jesus loved all the 12, but John knew it. John practiced it. John was conscious of it, and John calls himself, especially in the closing scenes of our Lord's life, "the disciple whom Jesus loved" five times. That's the number of grace, amen? The fifth time, Noah's name was mentioned. He says, "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord". The fifth time Ruth's name was mentioned, she says, she told Naomi, her mother-in-law, "I'll go into the fields and I'll glean in the eyes of him in whose sight I will find grace". The fifth time. Number five is a number of grace. In Hebrew, the letters in Hebrew, by the way, just like, you know, in the letters, there are no numbers in Hebrew. Alef, the letter "alef," the first letter, alef, beit, gimel, dalet. The first letter is actually a number. So when they wanna give a number, they put the letter "alef, number one," "beit, number two," "gimel, number three," "dalet, number four". Hey, I just said, "Hei" is number five. I said, "Hei" is number five, and God's name is Yod hei vav hei, right?
In the closing scenes of our Lord's life, the 12 were there in the Upper Room. And John, you know, in those days they would recline as they eat. Their legs are behind, that's why the woman brought, you know, she was weeping behind, on his feet, as he was eating? Remember, the woman came and she wiped his feet with her hair because their legs were beyond them at the back. They were reclining like this, as they ate. So, John was at his right hand. John leaned back, and John 13 says that's the first time he calls himself "The disciple whom Jesus loved". Jesus just said, "One of you will betray me". "Disciples look at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke. Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom," that's a picture of resting in the Lord's love for him.
See, people, when you lean on Jesus' bosom, you're not leaning on your own. It is not your love to the Lord. You are resting on his love to you, his love for you. There was leaning... now, what was the question? The question was what? Jesus just said, "One of you shall betray me". Then they look at one another. People, we will never, never get answers for our difficulties and problems in life, looking at one another. So what happened is that "there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved". Don't forget, John is writing this. "Simon Peter therefore motioned to John to ask Jesus who it was of whom He spoke. Then," watch this, watch this, "leaning back on Jesus' breast, John said to Him, 'Lord, who is it?'" Next verse. Jesus told him who it was. John was the only one who knew who was the betrayer.
First lesson we learn is this. The one who leans on the Lord's love for him has the closest communion, and he is the heartbeat of God. Now, Peter, on the other hand, he sat there as a contrast to John, because Peter boasts of his love for the Lord. He's a man that boasts of his love for the Lord. When the Lord said, "All of you, all right, I wanna tell you this, that I will go through persecution, I'm gonna die," and all that. Peter says, "Lord, this will never happen to you". And he said right in front of all the rest of his disciples, his friends: "Even if all these forsake you". He said it right in front of their faces. "If all these forsake you, I will never leave you. I'll never forsake you. I'll go to prison and to death". And Jesus says, "This morning before the rooster crows, you'll deny knowing me three times". "No way, Lord".
It was way. It was way. He denied knowing the Lord three times with cursing and swearing. He promised he would stand for the Lord, even to prison and to death. He can't even stand in a few hours' time in front of a maid that said, "Aren't you one of him"? A simple question of a maid. Why? Because, don't misunderstand me. His love for the Lord is true. His love for the Lord is an... love. It's a genuine love. But the problem is that he's leaning on his love to the Lord. Whereas John typifies by his words and actions. Peter was, in essence, saying, "I am the one who loves the Lord". But John, by his actions and by his words, he is indicating, "I am the one whom Jesus loves". When all is said and done, and Jesus was at the cross, who was the only disciple, besides the women, who was the only disciple that was there? John. Where is Peter? Where is Peter? Some corner somewhere. Where is the man that relied on his love for the Lord? Genuine love, nonetheless, c'mon.
That night there was Peter who boasts of his love for the Lord, John boasts of the Lord's love for him, and there was someone who had no love for the Lord. He had the bag and the devil in his heart. Now, he hung. He committed suicide. If only he'd wait a few more hours, Jesus would hang for him. Self-righteousness, it's a very deep thing. It's very hard for us to notice that in our lives. And I'll tell you one thing: sin is a problem. Joseph Prince hates sin. Let it be established, right, categorically, I, Joseph Prince, am vehemently against sin. But I'll tell you the problem that people have, not being able to receive, is self-righteousness. The fact, sinners could receive from Jesus. Prostitutes could touch him and be healed. Tax collectors could receive from him. But those who are self-righteous cannot receive from him. They have fallen from grace. Grace is high ground for you to fall from. Are you listening, people?
And when Jesus looked down, Jesus saw at that cross, "Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, 'Woman, behold your son!' and 'Behold your mother!'" In other words, when you rely, when you lean on and you boast of the Lord's love for you, c'mon, people, you will be of spiritual use to him. He will use you. And what timely service too, hallelujah. I'm getting excited. Is anyone getting excited with me here? C'mon, amen. Don't boast of your love, even though it's wonderful, your love, if I can put on a graph, my love also, amen, it goes like this. On Sunday, "Praise God, hallelujah". During the tour, "Whoa," right? And after the tour, it goes down again, amen. Don't put your trust in something that waxes and wane. Put your trust in the love of God for you, the love of Jesus, amen? That is always a constant on the graph, amen.
And when you look at what is constant, I learned this years ago when I was in the Navy, amen, in the sea when it was a storm tossing, all that, sometime my colleagues were throwing up and all that, and the officer came on board and said, "Guys, there's a simple trick. Look far away at the horizon, at what is fixed and constant". And soon enough, we all felt better. We'll be more stable, we'll be disciples of closest communion, and the Lord's able to use us, amen, if we rely on his love for us. You know, not too far away from here, in fact, we're at the southern tip, and the River Jordan comes out from here, all right? Goes all the way down, down, down, down, down, down to the lowest place of planet Earth, the Dead Sea. And that's a, by the way, the genuine site of Jesus's baptism. Have you all been there? That's why you need to come back again. One trip won't cut it. There are so many places to look at.
So the genuine site has been discovered, Bethabara, and that's the lowest place on planet Earth. That's where the River Jordan goes into Dead Sea. Now, there, when Jesus came out of the waters of baptism, the Father opened the heavens to him. I love the way the Scripture says it: "Opened the heavens to him". And the Father said, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased". You see, you never know how much God loves you until you know how much God loves his Son. Because he gave his Son for you, amen? So, when Jesus came out, the Bible says, "Full of the Holy Spirit," he went into the wilderness and he was tempted, tested, by the devil, 40 days and 40 nights.
And one day, I was reading that and the scales fell off my eyes. I never saw this before. Never heard anyone preach this. I saw this, and it's like, "Whoa, the devil is constant in his approach". He came to Jesus, saying, "If you are the Son of God, if you are the Son of God," now, Jesus just heard the Father says, "You are my beloved Son". The devil left out the word, "beloved". Like a flash I saw, if this is the devil's tactic, before he can make someone commit adultery, he needs to make the person feel unloved by the spouse, you know? He need to bring, "Oh, God doesn't love you," and then you will turn away from God, amen? Anyone that preaches the belovedness of the believer is sent by God. The Father opening the heavens to affirm his Son, saying, "You are my beloved Son". Twice, the Father did it, and audibly too. The other one is just down here. You go straight, all right, you'll see the tallest mountain in Israel, Mount Hermon. All right, on a clear day, your guide will show you the snow-peaked mountain of Hermon, which I believe is the scene of the Transfiguration, all right?
Now, it towers, just like the Dead Sea is 1400, where Jesus was baptized and the Father affirm him the first time, the Father openly said, "This is my beloved Son," that's the lowest place, the lowest place on planet Earth, 1400 feet below sea level. But Mount Hermon, you can see Mount Hermon there? Mount Hermon is about more than 9000 feet rising into the air. It's the tallest peak in all Israel. And one day I was watching this and I was reading this, and I realized all of a sudden, the lowest place on planet Earth, the highest place in Israel, in both places the Father calls him "Beloved," for our children, c'mon, all right? Not just the high spots, but when they have achieved something, let's affirm them, let's call them, "You're the one that I love," amen? Even in their lowest point, that's the time. When they fail you, go to them and say, "I still love you. You are precious to me". And do that with your husband and wife as well.
See, the Bible doesn't say, "Husbands, love your wife". It doesn't say that. It says: "Husbands, love your wife as Christ loves the church". If you have no revelation of how much Christ loves the church, how can you love your wife, amen? So, when we experience this vertical love, then can we give our horizontal love. We love because he first loved us, amen. After Jesus rose from the dead, two weeks after that, the disciples were here, somewhere over there, Saint Peter's Primacy. You have to go there, all right? Whatever it takes, tell the guide you've gotta go there, all right? Saint Peter's Primacy. I love that spot. Sometimes, I'll just come there, just for an hour or so and my leaders and I, we just break out and I just meditate, because that's the place that morning when Jesus walked by, after he's been resurrected for two weeks. He rose from the dead already two weeks. He passed by and the disciples were fishing all night and caught nothing. Remember that?
John 21. By the way, I must tell you this. In the account of Luke, when Peter denied the third time, Jesus was bound like this, all right? And Peter was out there in the court, all right? And the Bible says: "When Peter denied the third time, and the rooster crowed, Jesus turned and looked upon Peter". It was almost as if he's saying, "Peter, I told you, but I still love you". And that's what broke his heart. The law cannot break, words written on stone cannot break a man's heart. But love, love will, amen. And he went and wept bitterly. Well, now, John 21, Jesus rose from the dead and they'd been toiling all night. They caught nothing. Watch this now. The Bible says Jesus walked by and says, "Hey, children, do you have any food"? And they said, "None". They didn't recognize it was him. And the Bible says one of the disciples knew who it was. Who was it?
Watch this. John 21: "'Cast the net on the right side,' Jesus said, 'you will find some.' Now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish". I love it. All night caught nothing. When Jesus tells you to do something, watch it. Results. Net-breaking, boat-sinking results. "Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said, 'It is the Lord!'" The one who's the quickest, who has the quickest perception, is the one who is resting on the Lord's love for him. "The disciple whom Jesus loved said, 'It is the Lord!'" And Peter jumped in the water to go to Jesus. Peter came to the Lord, and the Lord made breakfast. What a beautiful picture. The resurrected Jesus did a very commonplace thing: making breakfast. And then, they all came with all their fishes. Peter was there already. Sat around. After they ate, I love this. The Bible said: "After they had dined, then the Lord asked".
You know sometimes before you bring up the tough questions, let 'em eat first, leaders and pastors. The Lord believes in feeding you before he requires things from you. Don't beat; feed. So he fed them, and then he says, "Peter, let's go for a walk". And there's the place you must go to: Saint Peter's Primacy, just by the... all right, I don't know Peter got the credit, but actually it's John who had the revelation that, okay, so it's called Saint Peter's Primacy, and he walked with Jesus, and Jesus says, "Peter, do you love me more than all this"? Remember, he said, "If all this should forsake you, I, Peter, will never leave you. Where you go, I'll follow, even to prison, to the death, y'all. Bring it on," amen? Relied on his love. True genuine love, nonetheless.
And then the Lord said, "Do you love me more than all this"? And Jesus used the word "agapao," which is the highest form of love, self-sacrificial love. "Do you love me, agape love me"? And Peter says, "Lord, you know that I phileo you". Phileo is I like you. Peter is now humbled. He realize it's not his love; it is the Lord's love. Said, "Lord, you know that I only like you". And the Lord says, "Feed my lambs". And they walk further and Jesus says, "Peter, do you agapao me"? And Peter says, "Lord, I only like you," phileo. At the level of like, Jesus says, "Shepherd my sheep". At first, "feed my lambs," the younger ones. "Shepherd my sheep". Then Jesus asked the final time. Now, Jesus came to Peter's level, finally, and Jesus says, "Peter, do you phileo me? Do you like me"? Peter says, "You know all things, Lord. You know that I only phileo you". He's learned his lesson. It is not his love for the Lord. It is the Lord's love for him.
Friend, he loves you. He loves you so much he gave his life on the cross for you. And now God is saying, you cannot rely on your love for him but rest in his love for you. And friend, if you're watching this, wherever you may be, you might be alone or you might be incarcerated or you might be in a hotel room. First and foremost, no matter how unclean or how dirty you think you are, God loves you. God loves you. And just like what he did with the leper, what he did with that woman, the issue of blood, he has come, his holiness is a holiness that can be approached, amen. Because he loves you. And he will touch you, just one touch, and you'll be cleansed. You'll be forgiven. Every head bowed and just let's pray this prayer. If you're watching this, I'm going to encourage you to put your trust in Christ. Because Christianity begins with D-O-N-E not D-O. And say this, say this after me:
Lord Jesus, thank you, thank you for who you are. All together lovely, I believe you died on the cross for all my sins. And I believe you rose from the dead for my justification. Lord Jesus, you are my Lord and my Savior, now and forever. Thank you, Lord I am the disciple, that Christian, that believer, that you love. In Jesus's name, amen and amen.