Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, March 23, 2024
Shabbat Shalom,

The Emotion We Call Love
by David Harwood

Agape is not a determination to act in a certain way. It is the emotion we know as love. This is important:

We are commanded to love, but agape is not a dispassionate decision (1 Corinthians 13:3). It is the emotion we call love.

Did you know that emotions can be commanded? We’ve been commanded to love God, our neighbors, our enemies, and our fellow disciples. We’re exhorted to rejoice. On the other hand, sinful emotions can be prohibited. For instance, bitterness is a prohibited emotion. So is greed.

It is possible to do things that look like love but are mere shells, plastic fruit, Rolex replicas, Gucci knockoffs. We want the real thing and not the appearance of agape.

Paul addressed this.

If I give away all that I own and if I hand over my body so I might boast but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3) 

It is possible to do loving things but that if the heart of agape is not motivating the actions, they are worthless.

The reason this is important is that it seems like the believing community has given up on the heart and focused upon behavior. This is the result of a lack of faith, insight, and interaction with God. We’ve been promised new hearts which are inscribed with the torah of Agape.

Concerning the zenith pattern of love, agape can be used to describe the love of God.

God is holy and His agape is as holy as He is. Just as God’s power is greater than humanity’s, God’s agape is more strongly felt. Here are the pinnacles of holy agape:

God’s love for the world and His love for Yeshua.

Agape is as holy as the lover is, and our holy, holy, holy God feels it. Just as our vision is a shadow of His vision, and our capacities are faintly analogous to His power and skill, so also is our natural agape a hint of what God feels – utterly holy agape.

The following is the cornerstone verse that describes God’s love.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) 

This describes the holy emotion God felt that motivated His redemptive action. The giving of His Son was agape’s expression. His love provoked the giving of His Son. It was how He loved; the action agape took. It is holy love.

How deeply must that love feel? To what can it be compared? Words fail.

Later in John we see another description of God’s agape.

The Father loves the Son and has given everything into His hand. (John 3:35) 

Consider that the exaltation of His Son, giving Him the Name above every name, is a manifestation of Father’s great love for Yeshua. Yeshua was loved for a reason: He laid down His life and took it up again (John 10:17). The Father expressed that love by putting every created thing under the risen Messiah’s authority.

Later in John’s Gospel we find the Messiah speaking to Father about His love for us.

I in them and You in Me—that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them as You loved Me. (John 17:23) 

To believe that Father’s agape for us is on the same level as His love for Yeshua is a bit much. But we’re loyal to the Messiah, believe His word, and are under a covenantal obligation to believe this revelation, Father’s thrice holy agape is directed towards us, and it is the emotion we call love.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
13 Adar II Shabbat 23-Mar-24 Parashat Vayikra Shabbat Zachor
Leviticus 5:11-6:7[5:26]; Deuteronomy 25:17-19 1 Samuel 15:2-34