Let’s get the context of John 14, these words were spoken less than a day before Christ died on the cross. Jesus had just told his disciples He would be leaving, and this confused them. They didn’t understand. Where was He going? What would happen? How would they keep on without Him?
Adoption & Intimacy
Last Sunday we saw that this was answered through adoption and intimacy with the Trinity. These gifts, adoption & intimacy, are primarily about what God is doing in reaching his people. We are given these gifts by God. Today we will look at the right response to those gifts, namely love. Then we will look at the outworking of love in our lives, namely obedience.
God’s Special Love of His Own
Jesus squarely says that the gifts He is promising here are for us, believers, Christians, and NOT for the whole world.
John 14:16–17: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
John 14:19: “Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me.”
John 14:22-23: “Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him.’ ”
This is different than the love spoken of in John 3:16 that is poured out on all creation.
Clearly, these gifts (adoption, intimacy, and love) are something those who do not love Christ will not know. This is a special love that God pours out on His adopted children. Say, “I’m adopted!”
Our Love of Christ
Those who do love Christ, those will receive these special gifts and this unique love! Four times He states:
John 14:15–16: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.”
John 14:21: “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father.”
This is not a love God has for the world. This is a personal, intimate, relational, affectionate, committed love from the Father only for those who love Jesus.
John 14:23: “Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him.’”
God responds to our love and loves us with a unique, personal, intimate, affectionate, caring, committed love that belongs only to those who love his Son. Say, “The Father loves me!”
What does it mean to love Jesus?
You can’t love what you don’t know. You must have a relationship with Jesus in order to love him. You must know Jesus in order to love him. I’d argue that the more you know him, the greater your love of him grows.
Say, “I want to know Jesus!”
Jesus tells us four times that this love is of such a nature that it results in the keeping of Jesus’s “commandments,” or, more generally, his “word.”
- John 14:15: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
- John 14:21: “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.”
- John 14:23: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word.”
- John 14:24: “Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.”
The first thing to notice is that loving Jesus is not the same as keeping his commandments. It comes before and causes the keeping the commandments. Keeping his word is the result of loving him, not the same as loving him.
Let me give you an example to help clarify this. Tracey and I have been married 25 years, and in that time I’ve learned that there are things expected of a husband on the anniversary. So, let’s say that on our 25th anniversary, I stop and pick up flowers on the way home. Then, when I arrive at the house I hide the flowers behind my back and ring the doorbell instead of going inside as I would normally do.
Tracey comes to the door, surprised, and ask why I rang the doorbell. I pull the flowers out from behind my back and present them to her. Surprised, she asks, “Oh honey, you didn’t have to do this. Why did you?” and I respond “It’s my duty. We have been married 25 years. I’m supposed to do things like this, so I’m doing it.”
How do you expect my wife will respond to that answer? The gesture become empty and invalid. The true answer is “Because I love you. I do thinks like this as an overflow of my love for you. I deeply desire to demonstrate my love for you.” I grew up in a culture where buying your wife flowers on your anniversary was nothing less than a duty, but I know it is so much more. It is the outpouring of love.
So, what is this love that gives rise to keeping the commandments of Jesus? Jesus has no defects. He has no demerit. We cannot and dare not love him graciously, the way God loves us. We dare not love him with a love that overcomes some fault or ugliness, or sin in Jesus to treat him well. No. Love for Jesus is entirely deserved. He is infinitely worthy of being loved. He is perfectly lovely. He is loved not in spite of what he is, but because of all that he is.
Which means that love for him is a response to His Glory and greatness and majesty. It is not a response to need or weakness or defect. Which also means that love for Jesus is pleasurable.
- It’s desiring him because he is infinitely desirable.
- It’s admiring him because he is infinitely admirable.
- It’s treasuring him because he is infinitely valuable.
- It’s enjoying him because he is infinitely enjoyable.
- It’s being satisfied with all that he is, because he is infinitely satisfying.
It’s the reflex of the awakened and new-born human soul to all that is true and good and beautiful, embodied in Jesus. In short, loving Jesus is not a matter of doing excellent things. It’s a matter of delighting in an excellent Savior. Jesus says doing excellent things — keeping my word — is the result of delighting in the excellent Savior.
Where else might we see love used like this?
John 3:19 says, “People loved the darkness rather than the light.” That is what they wanted. They desired it. They enjoyed it. They preferred it. They didn’t love the darkness out of a base obligation. They loved it out of craving.
The same kind of love is in John 12:43: “They loved the glory of man more than the glory of God.” They wanted it. That’s what loving it means. They longed for it. They craved human praise. That’s how they “loved” it.
Or consider the Father’s love for the Son John 3:35: “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.” Remember the words of the Father at the baptism of Jesus and at his transfiguration: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).
This is the only way to love the Son: to be pleased with him. To feel pleasure in him. To esteem and admire and enjoy and treasure and stand in trembling, happy awe of him. Will you stand before your king and when he asks, “Why have you followed my commands me?” and simply say, “I was my duty”? I didn’t want to go to hell? Or will you say, “Because I love you Lord!”
The “Commandments” in Jesus’ Mind
What are the commandments Jesus has in mind when he says in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
When you read through the whole Gospel of John just looking for specific moral-behavior commandments, what do you find? You find about two explicit commandments that you might call moral-behavior commandments:
- the new commandment to love each other as Jesus loved us (John 13:34–35)
- the command to Peter: “Feed my sheep” (John 21:16).
But Jesus didn’t say, “If you love me, you will keep my moral behavior commandments.” He said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (verse 15). So if you read through the Gospel again, what you find is lots of commandments like:
- “Receive me” (1:12).
- “Follow me” (1:43).
- Get up, crippled man (5:8).
- Rise from the dead, Lazarus! (11:43).
- “Believe in the light” (12:36).
- “Believe in God” (14:1).
- “Believe me” (14:11).
- “Abide in me” (15:4).
- “Ask whatever you wish” (15:7).
- “Abide in my love” (15:9).
- “Receive the Holy Spirit” (20:22).
These are the commandments that are all over the Gospel of John. How does that confirm the way we have understood love for Jesus in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”? Because if the commandments in the Gospel of John are overwhelmingly
Then it makes perfect sense that Jesus would say, “If you love me — if you desire me and delight in me and treasure me — then you will receive me, and believe me and abide in me.”
What it means to love Jesus in John 14:15, 21, and 23 is to treasure him above all others, to desire him, long for him, enjoy him, be satisfied in all that he is.
What are we promised if we love him?
What does Jesus promise such people, a few hours before he goes to die for them?
The sum of the promise is: The Father, the Holy Spirit, and I will be with you forever. They will never forsake you no matter where you are. But to say that, Jesus piles up an amazing array of expressions. Let’s walk through and spot them.
- John 14:6: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.”
- John 14:17: “Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
- John 14:18: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
- John 14:19: “Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.”
- John 14:20: “In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”
- John 14:21: “And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Verse 23 in answer to the question why this manifestation will not be for the world, Jesus simply says again: Because it’s for those who love me — “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
You get to enjoy all of this … if you love Jesus.
What about the World?
John 14:24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
The world does not love Jesus. The world hates Jesus.
John 14:18-19 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
That is the world that I came out of. That is the world that we came out of. There was a time when I hated Jesus, I hated righteousness, I didn’t want to be told what to do. I wanted to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. I certainly didn’t appreciate God coming along and telling me that I was doing wrong, even if it was for my own good.
The world is full of the children of disobedience. Where do we see this?
John 14:30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me,
So we see Satan enter the picture, the current ruler of this world. Then we look at:
Ephesians 2:2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience
In which I once walked! I was a child of disobedience and now I’m a child of God. Say, “I’m a child of God!” Here is beauty in the Gospel, every adopted child of God was once a child of disobedience.
Lack of love results in disobedience and love results in obedience. If you are not a believer you are invited to love Jesus and hate your sin. Become a child of obedience! Every adopted child has to learn the new rules in the new family. Come join our family, trust, and obey. It is simply a matter of repenting from disobedience and loving what is infinitely lovely, namely Jesus.
But don’t believe that you can have your cake and eat it too. Jesus is very clear that this unique love and these gifts of adoption and intimacy are not for the world at large, but only for those who have been called out of the world into the family of God. Don’t fool yourself into believing that you can pretend love Jesus by following his commands, because the true followers of Jesus follow his commands because we love him.
Do you love Jesus?
Does your heart cry out in love to Him? Do you desire to follow his commandments because of your great love for him? How have you done that this week?
Have you loved one another as Jesus loves us? Have you been believing Jesus and abiding in God? Or have you been living in unbelief? Falling back into sin and not abiding in the truth?
You know your own heart. Submission and obedience is easy when we are told to do what we want to do already. I want to abide, I want to believe, I want to love you as Jesus loves me. I pray that you want the same thing.
Walking in the Light
January 09, 2009
Live as You are Called
January 08, 2009