I often ask my children, “Why do you love me?” My objective when I ask them this question is more than getting them to say nice things about dear old dad. I want them to see that the only reason they love me is because I loved them first. That love was relayed to them by actions I took as they grew. I fed them, snuggled their necks, changed their diapers and told them repeatedly how much I loved them. I did this while they were incapable of doing much for me. Sure they cooed and grunted but that only goes so far. They learned to love me even before the really knew me.
Jonathan Edwards explained the third person of the Trinity as the being of eternal love between the Father and the Son.
This is the eternal and most perfect and essential act of the Divine nature, wherein the Godhead acts to an infinite degree and in the most perfect manner possible. The Deity becomes all act, the Divine essence itself flows out and is as it were breathed forth in love and joy. So that the Godhead therein stands forth in yet another manner of subsistence, and there proceeds the third Person in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, viz., the Deity in act, for there is no other act but the act of the will. (J.E. An Unpublished Essay on the Trinity)
This love amongst the Godhead is shared with us. We love because He first loved us, John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, wrote . This love of God is not a warm fuzzy. It is action. God’s love does!
The psalmist responds to this love of God by returning love back to Him:
1I love the LORD, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
2Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
In the redeemed the love of God is reciprocated. In the wicked His love is reason for presumption and blasphemy.
Jesus loved the unredeemed. John Gill believed it was Jesus in his humanity that loved the unconverted like the rich man in Mark 10. Let’s see:
17And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'” 20And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
It seems to me that Jesus is not so easily bifurcated. He is literally fulfilling the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself, while showing this man his sin (human?). He then teaches His disciples a lesson about who He was and what it meant to be a follower of Jesus Christ (teaching with authority – divine authority).
As Jesus watched the rich man walk away the Lord explained how hard it was to enter heaven when you are rich. Here is the rest of the teaching:
26And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
It is possible for God. Yet this possibility is wrapped up in Jesus. He called Peter to follow Him and provided Him with the faith to do so. He is the one who literally took the last and made them first: A tax collector, some fisherman, etc.
28Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
God was present with the Rich Man. God loved Him and did not save Him. God loved the man and did not flinch in condemning his hypocrisy at the same time. Calvin on verse 21:
Thus the question is answered, How was it possible that Christ should love a man who was proud and a hypocrite, while nothing is more hateful to God than these two vices? For it is not inconsistent, that the good seed, which God has implanted in some natures, shall be loved by Him, and yet that He should reject their persons and works on account of corruption.
God acted upon this man. God loved this man. Go and do likewise.