John 14:15-21 (NIV2011)
15 “If you love me, keep my commands.”
The disciples’ love for Christ is revealed in their obeying His commands (cf. vv. 21, 23; 1 John 2:3; 3:22, 24; 5:3). Christ has set the pattern of love and obedience (John 14:31); and His disciples are expected to follow (13:15-16).¹
The meaning of this phrase “If you love me” is quite common and usually implies some human passion that requires proof. Mere thoughts are not enough. It demands works. Its’ very solution hinges on what happens now that the ball is in your court.
It is up to you. You have free will. What will you do? You must examine yourself. Do I really love Jesus or am I just faking it to make it? Why must my love for him be predicated on my obedience to His commands? I agree wholeheartedly since Adolf Hitler gave many a command and they were carried out by men who responded out of fear; not love. There was no spiritual glue holding Hitler’s relationship to his army together forever. If you disobeyed, you were ousted or killed.
It is impossible to keep the commands of Jesus if you are 1) not in a true relationship with him and 2) you are not filled with the Holy Spirit. If we are to truly follow Jesus, we need to know Jesus. It implies that there must be a relationship between two people and in this case, Jesus and His disciples. We must also “know” ourselves well enough to own our part of the relationship. To be in love with Jesus, requires that we know who we are and whose we are. “If you love me.”
Some people work very hard to love Jesus. They work hard to please the Lord even though it is written that without faith it is impossible to please him. Some argue the need for Jesus to change so that they can love Him on their own terms.
This is the pivotal point in this very first line. Jesus does not demand that any of us change nor does He change. Christianity is His game and these are the rules of His game. You choose by your own free will whether or not you want to respect Him and his rules or turn away. He has died on the Cross and set this system in order. He has the right to say such profound words to the disciples. He implies that you are on your own with this. The choice is yours.
If He says that He will give you anything you want, just ask in His name, why is that not enough? All things have been prepared for you and you are welcome to abide in His space and He in yours. The game changes when we choose to rearrange the rules for our good. We disrespect Him and all that He is about. True love means obeying because you love me, not because you are afraid of me. If you love, you will do what I ask out of love. It is not a one-way or one-person act.
I would like to stop right there but there is another significant element of this story. What Jesus asks of us or demands of those who are following him is already provided by Him. There is no way this statement can have its’ desired results unless you have believed in Jesus Christ and are indwelt with the Holy Spirit.
If I love you, I want to please you, just because. True love compels us to put aside ourselves and love the other.
The Intercessor Christ
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
Christian love is manifested as a believer obeys the Lord’s words (cf. vv. 15, 23). The rewards of loving Him are great: (a) the Father will show His love to him (cf. v. 23), and (b) the Son will love him and show Himself to him. This passage does not teach a “works” religion, but rather that one who believes and obeys Christ’s Word is loved by the Lord. Saving faith results in obedience (cf. “the obedience that comes from faith,” Rom. 1:5).