Three times in John fourteen Jesus says that saying you love Jesus is not enough. It is easy to tell someone that you love them. It is even easier for us to say that we love Jesus, but Jesus is not satisfied with mere lip service. What is it that Jesus said that shows us lip service isn’t enough?
“If you love Me, you will keep My commands.”
John 14:15 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.14.15.hcsb )
“The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me.”
John 14:21a HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.14.21.hcsb )
“Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.”
John 14:23a HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.14.23.hcsb )
Jesus tells us three times that if we love Him we will keep His commands/word. The way we say that we love Jesus isn’t by singing praise songs and crying because we are emotional. Singing and crying are not bad and we should do those things when it comes from our heart. The problem comes when the second we go outside of the church we deny Christ by our behavior. We treat others in hateful ways and demand our rights over everything else. This isn’t the way of the Lord.
What does Jesus mean here that we are to keep His commands/words? Some may think that commands might be talking about the Law of the Old Testament. That Jesus is saying that we should keep the law. Others will say that Jesus has done away with the law and this just referring to loving others. The first thing that we have to keep in mind is that Jesus said, “I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt. 5:17). Paul says in Romans that “the law is holy, and the commandments are holy, righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12). Then again in 1 Timothy 1:8 “We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.”
Does this mean that we have to follow the Old Testament law? John never would have presented an argument for legalism and he isn’t presenting one here. On the other hand, John isn’t saying that you can say you love Jesus, but live like the devil. We have to be careful that we do not slip into legalism and at the same time, we have to recognize that freedom in Christ doesn’t mean we can live however we want. This is why I recommend reading the book “The Cure” and you can read my review of the book (here).
Three times Jesus says that we have to keep His commands and a fourth time He makes it clear that the ones who do not keep His commands don't love Him.
“The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.” John 14:24 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.14.24.hcsb )
We should not see this as a burden and the way that we can love Jesus and happily fulfill His commands is by not focusing all of our attention on the sins we struggle with. Instead, focus on our relationship with God and the Holy Spirit will change our lives. The closer we are to God in our relationship the more we will be able to keep the law of Christ.
“One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked Him, “Which command is the most important of all? ” “This is the most important,” Jesus answered: Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. “The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.”
Mark 12:28-31 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/mrk.12.28-31.hcsb )
“Carry one another’s burdens; in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/gal.6.2.hcsb )
For us to fulfill the law we have to love God with all of our hearts. Which means that we love God more than we love ourselves. Only then will we be able to get rid of things in our lives that are unpleasing to God. We also have to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Everyone wants what is best for themselves. So we are to want what is best for our neighbors, even if we have to give up something that we desire ourselves.
We are told in Galatians that the way we fulfill the law of Christ is by carrying one another burdens. I want to find the church that has this type of people in it, instead of the churches that you have to put on a mask to pretend that everything is ok. The problem is You (Me also), that we all have a sense of self-righteousness and pride. That when someone opens up about their struggles we don’t help bear their burdens. God help us all to be better at loving others.
The good news of John is that each time Jesus said that if we love Him we will keep His commands each came with a promise.
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him because He remains with you and will be in you.”
John 14:16-17 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.14.16-17.hcsb )
The first promise is that if we love and obey Jesus we will have the Holy Spirit that will lead and guide our lives. Enabling us to fulfill the Law of Christ.
“The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him.”
John 14:21 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.14.21.hcsb )
The second promise is that if we love and obey Jesus we will be loved by the Father. The Father and the Son will love us and will also reveal Himself to us. The more we know and love Jesus the more confident we can be in our position in Christ.
“Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”
John 14:23 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.14.23.hcsb )
The third promise is that if we love and obey Jesus the Father and Son will come to us and make Their home with us. We will daily be dwelling in the presence of the Triune God. Life in the presence of God is not something that we have to wait for until we get to eternity. It is something that we can experience today, but we must die to ourselves. We will never be able to have the life and have the community that God wants for us until we stop demanding our rights and our way. Instead, we should live in the way of Christ.
Questions for reflection.
1. Living for Christ means dying to yourself, your desire, your rights, etc. What is the hardest thing for you to put down to live for Christ?
2. It is not about legalism, where you have to follow rules, it’s about loving God and others. At the same time it’s not a license to sin, but is a life of righteousness. In our minds, this can be a conflict, but in reality, the love and righteousness are in perfect harmony. How can the church do better at reflecting this harmony to the people inside and outside of the church?