“If you love me . . .”

Read John 14:15-24.

Three quotes of Jesus from our passage:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.”

“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word . . .”

“Believe” (and what believe means)

To put our passage in context, I want to go back to the first verse in the chapter, 14:1 where Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”

I’m told that word “believe” in the original Greek means more than what it means in English. Pisteuō (pronounced pē-styü’-ō) is the word, and yes, it means to have confidence in, to trust, and to accept as true and reliable. But I’m told the original word goes beyond our English meaning and the idea here is to believe in a way that results in obedience.

It reminds me of when I was a brand new firefighter. I was 23 years old and I was responding to my first house fire. As we rolled up to the scene I saw an large old two story house well involved with fire, and the firefighter I was with, Lowell Jackson (who liked to be called “Skeeter”) told me to stick by him and to do what he did. A fire scene is a little bit like a battle field, it’s chaotic, and so I was glad to have Skeeter with me for this adventure. He told me to put on my jacket and my self contained breathing apparatus, and to help him pull the hose off the engine. Then he told me to follow him inside the burning building because that’s what our Incident Commander ordered us to do.

A few months earlier, when I was sitting in class, my instructor told me my turnouts (the fire resistant jacket, pants, and boots) and my breathing apparatus would protect me from the 300 plus degree heat inside a burning building. And I believed him that day, sitting there, in the air conditioned classroom.

But now a chain saw was whining as two firefighters cut a hole in the roof. The noise of the engine pumping water at high rpm was even louder than that. Men were shouting to each other. Thick black smoke was pumping out of the burning building in a way I found disturbing. And it was time to go into that smoke. Let not my heart be troubled, believe in that instructor, and believe also in Skeeter Jackson.

My belief went beyond an agreement in my mind that something was factual. I believed in a way that resulted in obedience when I was ordered by the Incident Commander to enter that burning building and plunge into that fire amidst the noise and chaos.

That’s the context of our passage John 14:15-24.

“If you love me . . .”

My entire Christian life I’ve heard Bible teacher after Bible teacher say that when we find something repeated in the Bible that’s God emphasizing its importance. Here in our passage today Jesus is meeting with his disciples for the last time before his betrayal and crucifixion. And he shares this.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

And then he expresses the same idea again when he says, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.”

He continues with, “And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

At this point, Jesus’ disciple Judas Thaddaeus (not the betrayer Judas Iscariot who’s already left at this point), asks Jesus: How does this work, that you’ll manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?

And Jesus answers with the same idea, yet again, he says, “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.”

Then he continues by expressing the same idea in the negative, he says, “Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.”

And to emphasize even further he says, “The word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.”

So this idea that if we love Jesus, we’ll keep his commandments, is expressed three times inside of ten verses, four times if you count the “Whoever does not love me . . .,” statement.

Do I Love Jesus?

I have the type of personality that likes to know things for certain. I check all the doors three times to make sure the house is locked at night. I click on the key fob two or three times to make sure the car is locked when we leave it in the parking lot. I read and reread these blog posts too many times checking grammar, spelling, and looking for anything else that I might change to make it better. So I appreciate Jesus’ words for that reason. When I follow Jesus’ words, when I live them out, when I love the way he commands me to love, it’s encouraging to me. It’s not a proof exactly (because other motivations can be the reason for appearing to love the way Jesus commands us to) but it’s an indicator.

Jesus’ commandment is love. And when I use the word indicator, what I mean is that our love for others is evidence of our love for Jesus. It makes it plain in the same way that I see that Kathy’s love for our grandson Andrew is plain. Anyone who observes Kathy’s behavior can see how much she loves him. She’s always looking for opportunities to spend time with him. She sits with him and helps him grind through his homework. She takes him to church with us. She makes sure he’s exposed to a variety of activities that are good for his mind and his body. She feeds him his favorite foods. She lavishes him with gifts. Anyone can see by her actions that Kathy loves Andrew. And it’s not just her love for Andrew that causes her to behave this way. Another reason she loves Andrew this way is because she loves his parents, Gabe and Charise. And Kathy knows the way to Gabe and Charise’s collective heart is to love Andrew. (John 13:34, Matthew 22:37-39, Matthew 5:44)

I know a dad who’s never around his kids. He divorced their mom and moved to a different state years ago. He rarely calls. He almost never gives gifts. Sometimes there’s no contact with his kids for a year or even more. He’s not engaged. Yet if you were face to face with this man right now, I have no doubt that he’d tell you he loves his kids. I know that’s true because that’s what he tells me.

So in the same way, we can see whether or not we love Jesus. Because just as the way to Gabe and Charise’s heart is to love Andrew, the way to Jesus’ heart is to love the least. “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'” Jesus said that when he was sharing about the final judgment.

And Jesus said this, plainly, and, he said it three times:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

 

Notes:

Further study will be rewarded. See John 13:34, Matthew 22:37-39, and Matthew 5:44.

Brett Meador, Through the Bible Study, Athey Creek Christian Fellowship, February 3, 2010

Ray Stedman puts it this way: “Obedience is not difficult to those filled with love. The clue to Christian behavior is not law, not demand, but love. Teach people to love Jesus. Show them how much he has already loved them, and obedience becomes easier and easier. ‘And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him’ — keep on revealing myself to him. That is intimacy. That is the longing of every Christian heart — to know him better, to go deeper and deeper into the love of Jesus which passes knowledge.” (Stedman, That Other Helper)

 

 

2 thoughts on ““If you love me . . .”

  1. Pingback: Keys To Receiving The Holy Spirit | God Running

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