Thursday, August 9, 2012

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments † I Will Love You So You Will Trust Me

Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments."
This is perhaps the legalist's favorite phrase that Jesus ever spoke. Most take this as meaning "To prove you love me you must keep everything I have ever commanded you." It is not the keeping that produces love but the loving that causes the keeping. But contextually are there specific commands Jesus is talking about? Yes.

What Were the Commands?
"A new commandment I give to you, love one another. Just as I have loved you, love one another" (John 13:34-35).
"Trust in God. Trust also in Me" (John 14:1).
Why these two? Because John repeats them in 1 John 3:23, "This is God's command: to trust in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us." "As He commanded us" refers back to John 13, "Love one another as I have loved you." Apparently this command was well known & widespread because John referred to "as He commanded us" without quoting how He commanded us.

Why Did Jesus Command His Disciples to Trust?
In John 14:1 Jesus says, "Trust in God. Trust also in Me." Now let us read John 14:15-17, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments and I will ask the Father, and He will give to you another Comforter, that He might be with you forever the Spirit of truth. He will be in you." Wow, this statement from Jesus (if you love Me..) has been taken so far out of context that it isn't even the whole sentence. Jesus knew these men & Judas had already left to betray Him. Jesus was saying "If you love me you will trust me & you will trust the Father. That trust results in receiving the Holy Spirit who is just like me. He will be with you forever and live in you." These guys did love Jesus, they were in a very unique position to have a love relationship with Him in the flesh before Jesus went to the cross, rose again, and became a life-giving Spirit.

Jesus was saying "Do you love me Peter? Do you love me John? Do you love me Matthew?... If you love me you will keep my commandments to trust in the Father and to trust in me. When I know you trust me I will ask the Father to give you another Comforter (one who is just like me) to be with you forever and to live in you." This was Jesus' appeal to the human relational love they had for Jesus which was built the 3 years they were with Him so they would trust Him through the devastating time where He goes to the cross and even to the grave. Jesus foretold them of His death and resurrection numerous times. John 13:1 says that everything Jesus did this night was to love His disciples because He knew He was going to be arrested and die soon.

Jesus didn't say “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" for all Christians throughout time to be burdened by all the commands Jesus taught in His life (many of which were old covenant commands which He spoke so people would realize their helplessness in keeping those commands). Jesus was referring to specific commands. He said this to men He had established human relationships with. He told them that He was about to be put to death and would rise again. He wanted them to trust Him so they would see Him risen and receive all the amazing things He gives through the Holy Spirit and new life.

The disciples did love Jesus because He first loved them and they all did receive the Holy Spirit as promised because ultimately they trusted in the Father, in Him, & in His resurrection. The loving caused the trusting. The trusting was the keeping of the two commandments to trust. The result of & reward for the keeping was receiving the Holy Spirit, an eternal spiritual relationship with God.

Today He loves, we trust, & He gives us the Holy Spirit. This was spoken to those who knew Jesus in the flesh so they would simply trust Him until He would give the Spirit. Jesus still wanted them to trust Him after they received the Spirit but that was not the initial purpose of the commands. Be sure that He still wants us today to trust Him (have faith in Him, believe Him) but also be sure to know that trust is the fruit of a relationship where you know that you are loved. These men uniquely had that relationship with Jesus before salvation was complete. Now God wants us to know His love, trust Him, & receive His Spirit. Trust is how we experience God's love for us and trust is how we love God.

Why Did Jesus Command His Disciples to Love One Another?
"This is God's command: to trust in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us" (1 John 3:23). This lets us know that more than just the commands to "Trust in God & trust also in Me," were in view. Jesus was also referring to this command which He said twice that night, "A new commandment I give to you, love one another. Just as I have loved you, love one another. All will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another” (John 13:34-35).

John repeatedly talks about "God's commandments" in 1 John but then says "This is His commandment" in 1 John 3:23 (quoted above). It is a compound command. In brief the command is, "Trust me & love others as I have loved you." "Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, & strength" was the greatest commandment in the law. The law was powerless (Romans 8:3) & the law is over (Colossians 2:14 & Ephesians 2:15). This new commandment supersedes the previous greatest commandment not only because the law is over but because this is not a powerless command. God's love & trustworthiness is essentially included in it. Knowing His trustworthiness is the means to trusting Him. Knowing His love is the means to loving others. Your trust is dependent on His trustworthiness. Your love is dependent on His love. He is responsible you are simply responsive. When everything depends on God & comes from God people will see God, "All will know that you are My disciples."

Why didn't Jesus give the new command, "love as I have loved you" before this night? Simple, this was at the end of His life with them in the flesh, He made sure that His love had been shown to them adequately before He gave this new command. God's new covenant commands are not laws. A law is something that you are bound to keep where failure to keep it results in a penalty/punishment. There is no condemnation or punishment for those in Christ. If you have not experienced His love God is not expecting you to love others well. Your goal is to discover His love & trust Him. This command is only for those who know His true love. It was given to keep the disciples together during their time of adversity. After His death they were staying in the same place. They loved one another during this tough time.

John repeats this command for those who know His true love. John speaks about God's love for us before repeating the command. He says, "God wants fellowship with mankind, knowing God brings complete joy, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin & unrighteousness, Jesus is the satisfying sacrifice for the sins of all, God has removed our sins, we have an anointing from the Holy One, God has promised us eternal life (relationship with God), God is our teacher, because of His great love God calls us His own children, we have been born of God, we are righteous, God has given us a new spirit through our birth in Him that cannot produce sin, Jesus laid down His life for us, God can stop our hearts from condemning us."

John goes on to write "We love because God first loved us. This is love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent His Son as the satisfying sacrifice for our sins." (1 John 4:9-10). Understanding this truth here is the key to walking in intimacy with God & walking in love with one another. The love we have does not come from a commandment. It comes from the fact that we grow in God's unconditional love for us. We love, not because of commandments, but because God loves us. His command is to "love as He has loved us." His love instigates & empowers our love for others. John makes a point that true love only comes from God loving us first. Love is not produced by us trying to love God without knowing His love first. Thus it is not the keeping of commands that produces love but God's loving of us that causes the keeping of commands.

"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:2-3). Remember His commands are to trust God (view Him as trustworthy & walk in a relationship with Him where you entrust yourself to Him & follow His guidance) & to love one another as He has loved us. We love God by trusting Him! We love God by loving others! 'We know we love the children of God when we love God, trust God, & love others as He has loved us.' Remember, His commands are not laws, they are not a stack of overwhelming obligations. His commands do not burden us because trust & love are walked out in a real-time relationship with Him & with others.

Keep His Word
In John 14:21 Jesus says, "He who has My commandments, and keeps them, that is the one who loves Me, and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.”
It is all about relationship. Here is a paraphrase of how the disciples would have heard Jesus when He said this, "If you know that I ask you to trust me and the Father and you do trust us, that means you love Me. Since you love Me you will experience the love of the Father and you will experience my love also. I will show myself to you because you trust me and because you love me."

John 14:22-24: Judas, not Iscariot, said to Him, “Lord, what has happened, that You are about to manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, He will keep My word, and My Father will love Him, and We will come to him, and We will dwell with him. He who 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."

Note the differences, earlier Jesus said "if YOU (my disciples) love me, YOU will keep My commandments." Then here Jesus says, "If ANYONE loves Me, He will keep My word." When asked about "the world" Jesus no longer uses the word "commandments." I think it is because Jesus takes "my commandments" literally. He actually told His disciples to do things. He commanded them. The world, meaning those who weren't His disciples at the time, "does not know Him" so they aren't commanded. (Note that John repeated Jesus' commands to others & wrote them in scripture. Because of this we who are His disciples can say that they are His commands to us but that is not the time frame Jesus was speaking in).

Keep means to hold, treasure, pay attention to, follow, listen with the intent to understand or act upon. It is somewhat similar to obey but more thoughtful & personal. It isn't just doing. Keeping is listening & understanding then treasuring & doing. (This is also the definition of keep used for "keep my commands"). So to "keep His word" is to have a trust that results from grasping the wonderful news of Jesus.

Those from the world who love Him keep His word. Notice it is singular. His "word" here means they trust Him about His trustworthiness regarding who He is. Love and trust go together. To God trusting Him equals loving Him. These are just the facts of salvation, if you trust (love) Him you will experience the Father loving you and God will live in and with you in an eternal spiritual relationship.

Those who do not love Him don't trust Him and don't care about any of the words He has said. Hebrews 11:6 says, "It is impossible to please God without trust". Galatians 5:6 says, "The only thing that counts is trust being expressed through love." We love because He first loved us. His love draws us to trust Him and trusting Him is loving Him.

Originally “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" was directed towards Jesus' disciples to appeal to their relational love for Him so they would endure & be saved through His resurrection. After the cross Jesus does not appeal to our love for Him in order for us to receive salvation because until we are saved we do not know Him.

Jesus was referring to specific commands. John passed these commands on to all Christians. The commands were 1. trust the Father 2. trust Jesus 3. love one another as God has loved you. These are the only overarching commands for Christians today because all of God's direction for our lives is followed by trusting God. Trust is how we have a relationship with God.

These 3 commands (which John considers 1 command in his first letter) all point to God rather than our personal morality. Our trust is in His trustworthiness. Our love for others comes from knowing His love for us. Truly His commands aren't burdensome. Jesus wasn't endorsing a legalistic lifestyle but instead is promoting a relationship with God that springs from & is based on His trustworthiness & His love for us. The more we recognize His love the more we will trust Him, love Him, & love others.

This Side of the Cross:  The Night of Jesus' Arrest
1. Intro
2. Jesus Goes to Prepare a Place in His Father's House † We Live in The Father
3. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments † I Will Love You So You Will Trust Me
4. Remain in Me † You are in Me

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