A “New” Truth

Tonight I was blessed to listen to Terry Smith teach a class at the Woodmont Hills Family of God.  He asked each of us to meditate on a story about Jesus from one of the Gospels, and then asked some of us to share that story.  While it was helpful to hear what stories impacted others and why, it was especially wondrous to hear Terry connect those stories with our hearts and guts.

One line, however, has stuck with me in a special way. It was a text that Terry emphasized this evening. It is a line from John 17 that I had read many times, but tonight I experienced it in a new way and I believe it is sinking deep into my heart. I want it to sink deeply into my heart.

In my thinking and teaching about John 17 I have regularly underscored the love between the Father and the Son and how God seeks to draw us into the circle of their love. The Father and Son intend for us to experience the love that they share. As John 17:26 states, we are designed (created for the purpose!) to know (experience and enjoy!) the love that the Father has for the Son. We are created to dwell in the love of the Father and Son.

But Terry stressed a different line in this prayer–different even from the laudable and traditional emphasis on unity that has characterized the Stone-Campbell Movement from John 17:20-21. 

Terry stressed a single declarative statement in John 17:23. Jesus says to the Father, “you have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Wow!  Let that sink in.  Dwell on it for a moment. Take some time to let that ping through the corners of your brain…and your heart…and your gut.

This rocked my heart. I had read it before…many times…many, many times. I had read more times than I could possibly remember. For the first time, perhaps, I really felt it in my gut.

The Father loves the disciples just as he loves Jesus.  Yes, the disciples.  The tax collector.  The sinful, cursing, impetuous fisherman sarcastically (perhaps) named “the rock.” The Zealot.  Judas the betrayer, no, the betrayers! They all betrayed him; they all ran eventually. They would all hide.

The Father loves the disciples just as he loves Jesus.  He loves screw-ups. He loves those who don’t understand him. He loves those who betray his Son.  He loves those who live in fear rather than faith. He loves them in their brokenness, their humanity, their finitude, even in their sin.

The Father loves the disciples just as he loves Jesus.  No more, no less.  He is love, and the love between the Father and the Son is the love with which he loves the disciples. The disciples are loved, even when they don’t feel loved and know they are loved.

The Father loves me just as he loves Jesus. Can it really be true? Surely not! I have screwed-up so many times.  I am broken.  I know myself too well. But the Father knows me, too. And he loves me just the same…even as he loves his only (monogenes) Son.

The Father loves me just as he loves Jesus. What a wondrous thought; what a powerful, transforming truth! This is the truth I need to believe; this is the truth that needs to sink deep within me.  This is the truth that should shape my heart, ground my security, and produce my joy. This love is what is really real; it is the truth of the gospel. It is the truth that is the foundation of a redeemed comsos.  My Father loves me just like he loves Jesus.

It is not really a new truth, of course.  But it entered my heart and gut in a new way this evening. It is the kind of newness that I need every day. I need to hear that truth anew every day and know deep within me that the mercies of God are new every morning.

With this truth I can crawl into my Father’s lap, trust in his care, and feel his loving arms enwrap me.   Thank you, Father.  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Holy Spirit, who pours that love into my heart.

11 Responses to “A “New” Truth”

  1.   Stan Says:


  2.   Terrell Says:


    How easy it is to overlook a ten-word English translation whose longest word has only five letters; nine of the ten words have only one syllable; and the only multi-syllable word in the sentence is “even.” And if you think that’s simple–the Greek sentence has only five words and no textual variants worth our time. Also, the most complicated word in the sentence is “love.” Why? Because we can’t imagine that kind of love! All for me/us!

    Thanks for passing this powerful statement along to your readers.

  3.   K. Rex Butts Says:


    Thanks! After I read your post this morning, I read over John 17 again myself. Something else that jumped out at me was that Jesus said concerning his disciples “And glory has come to me through them” (Jn 17.10, TNIV). We know that his disciples then (as well as us now) still made mistakes (denying Jesus, doubting his resurrection, etc…) and yet Jesus says that they (we) have still brought glory to him.

    Grace and peace,


  4.   Jim Martin Says:

    John Mark,
    Such a good post! Thanks for this today. I, along with many others, need to hear this word from God.

  5.   WesWoodell Says:


  6.   Matthew Says:

    Very healing and helpful words. Great point.


  7.   rich constant Says:

    simple truths, my friend…
    from a slightly skewed point of view that reaches back to convey the the Lord’s intent…. a corporate view of Fellowship being brought to fulfillment in God the father’s own good time.

    How amazing it is to me John Mark,(sorta, kinda) 🙂 , one simple little verse can skew a conceptual ambiguity, into a more clearly defined basic principle. The father does truly have a family built around the FAITHFULNESS of his son.

    Although you must (historian and scholar that you are) remember what they (” the traditional theological holders of the divine truths)said, once upon a time.
    Concerning another simple TRUTH…
    was “it” truly new???

    Let’s see, John Mark, what was that guys name?
    Copernicus I think, now there’s a real heretic for you. ALSO A VERY SIMPLE TRUTH…ISN’T IT?:-)

    The cultural historical hermeneutic, has built a pretty tight ethical box.
    My brother if you keep reconfiguring the simple TRUTHS by a shift in perspective that more closely aligns us with the love of the father found in the son they also may have to rearrange their cultural theological imperatives to remain faithful.


  8.   nick gill Says:

    One day, I will be able to sit over drinks with you and tell you how much hope and excitement and motivation you share with me through your writing and scholarship and openness.

    Thank you, JM. I love you with the love of the Lord.

  9.   rich constant Says:

    John Mark:

    tomorrow night, lord willing,
    my daughter Alix, who is 21 and active in her fellowship, making up boxeswhich she called “operation christmas child” with a bible in each on amoung other ijoyus goodies.she is a nother piece of work…praise god…

    any way…
    my son,brett 18, ask her to baptise him tomorrow night …
    it will be a kodac momment for me …

    and i will blame you and your insessant blogging
    for this my brother…
    and the time that you made me spend reading until the middle of the morning. at times 1-2am
    and the kids comming in at all hours seeing me reading and posting.
    also this has caused me to write, which i have never done in there life time. so it was “whats up with dad. this last year.” of corse i bought voice activated software to help..

    so my brother
    thanksgiving to you and your insessent bloging



  10.   Stan Says:

    A related thought that is also amazing is John 15:9 – “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” Jesus loves us as the Father loves him!

  11.   John Mark Hicks Says:

    Thanks, Stan. The reciprocal relationship here is awesome. The Father loves the Son, and he loves the disciples the way he loves his Son…but also the Son loves the disciples like the Father loves him. And…we are to love each other like the Father loves the Son and loves us. If only we could truly embrace, feel and live out that love….my, the world would be a better place and the kingdom of God will have arrived!


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