What's the reason for loving/worshiping Jesus? As an extension, what does it mean to love/worship Jesus and how does that help one accomplish spiritual goals (salvation, forgiveness, sanctification, etc.)?

...if the answer is based on scripture (e.g., "because God demands it from the righteous"), then why is that demand made?

Note: apologies for multiple questions in one post. My aim is to get an autonomous answer (i.e., not circular, not rhetorical).

Thanks for your thoughtfulness!


As @SteelyDan points out, this question is different depending on emphasis: Jesus, the incarnation, or Jesus, the Christ. @Affable seems to cover both. The incarnation is the great act of God's love, hence Jesus (the incarnation) is love. <-- unless I'm reading into his answer too much.

  • You are aware that not all Christians identify the Christ with Jesus personally and that therefore Jesus is not necessarily a particularly meaningful figure in all forms of Christianity, right? Perhaps you should be more specific in your question.
    – Steely Dan
    Jan 20 '12 at 17:06
  • @SteelyDan Huh? What significant denominations declare the Messiah to be someone other than Jesus of Nazereth? Jan 20 '12 at 17:41
  • @SteelyDan, I'm curious too. Maybe the non-Trinitarian ideas of pre-incarnation Christ as the eternal Logos. That would seem to demote the centrality of Jesus (the incarnation).
    – Kyle
    Jan 20 '12 at 19:46
  • Both I and the Church of Christ, Scientist hold that belief.
    – Steely Dan
    Jan 21 '12 at 16:39

The book of 1 John explicitly makes the case that loving Jesus, and by extension loving others, is the fundamental sine qua non of a Christian life. In chapter 4, John writes:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Loving others is the natural outflow of loving Jesus. Indeed, the Gospels argue that all right behavior is supposed to stem, not from conviction, but from love. As Jesus states this plainly in John 14:15 as such:

If you love me, keep my commandments.

Note the conditional is the love - If you love, then obey. It is explictly not, Obey so that i will love you.

When Jesus was asked to choose the greatest command in Mark 12, he continues this theme of linking the law as an outgrowth of love:

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these

Paul is also consistent with the witness that we love because of Jesus' love for us. Romans 5:6-8 says:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Love is thus the action first of God. The natural response of love, is then to return (or spurn) the love of the initiator. If my wife comes up to me and kisses me, for me not to return that love would be weird at best. Worship is that natural response of love to the One who first loved us.

  • thank you for your skillful answer. Interesting that the foremost law is to love God, which is the condition of obeying the same law. Thoughts? ... I like the last part of your post, as it answers my question most directly: reciprocate tremendous love with tremendous love (back to God & others). Intuited (to non-Christians & Christians) is that love is fundamental to the righteous life. One reason Christianity intrigues me, is that love of Jesus may lead to more love for others. Your last paragraph pointed to "how"--still required is faith & awareness of God's love (another post :)
    – Kyle
    Jan 19 '12 at 21:22
  • ...and also thank you for the link on "Worship." Those are much more palatable definitions than the definition I assumed.
    – Kyle
    Jan 19 '12 at 21:24
  • no comment on law begets love begets law...?
    – Kyle
    Jan 20 '12 at 19:47
  • Actually, "Loving others is the natural outflow of loving Jesus" isn't completely accurate. Rather, "loving others is the natural outflow of Jesus having loved us first" would be accurate. See 1 John 4:19.
    – user900
    May 8 '14 at 0:04

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