Concluding the Last Supper (April 1, 33 AD), Jesus told His 12 disciples that their actions would prove their devotion. In John chapter 14, He said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”John 14:15 -If You Do What I Command
Jesus had just demonstrated His remarkable love to the disciples by washing their feet (John 13:1-5). He told them what their loving response should be; to keep His commandments.
- He commanded them to wash one another’s feet, after the example He just displayed (John 13:14-15).
- He commanded them to love one another after the pattern of His love for them (John 13:34).
- He commanded them to put their faith in God the Father and in Jesus Himself (John 14:1).
Believers serve God from the higher motivation of their friendship with Him, not out of fear and pressure. (Erickson, p. 964) The believers keep Jesus’ commandments, not out of fear of a cruel and harsh master, but out of love for a kindly and loving Father. 1
Keeping the commandments of Jesus does speak to our personal morality, yet His emphasis was on love for others and faith in Him as demonstrations of obedience to His commandments.
It is easy to think of loving Jesus in merely sentimental or emotional terms. It is wonderful when our love for Jesus has sentiment and passion. But a fair measure of our love for Jesus must always be connected to keeping His commandments, or it isn’t love at all.
Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14) and we believers are not at liberty to reject such commands.
As Christians, we have a duty to obey God’s commands.
Keeping Jesus’ commandments is demonstrating our love for God. If we read the New Testament well, we already know that there was no specific mention by Jesus of the 10 Commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai in Deuteronomy.
Many of Jesus’ commands about love are found in the New Testament. Jesus tells his disciples in John 13:34 to love one another. Later, in John 14:15, he says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”
His last words to His friends focused on love while He shared a meal with them. Jesus did not take these commands lightly. It was necessary to keep God’s commandments in order to demonstrate the disciples’ love for God.
Scripture does not give us any basis for disregarding God’s revealed commands; therefore, we must seek to guide our lives by these precepts. Love cannot be separated from obedience.
For the believer, disobedience is not only a failure of performance or a failure of strength. It is also a failure of love. Those who love God most obey Him most joyfully and naturally. To say, “I really love Jesus. I just don’t want Him to tell me how to live my life” is a terrible misunderstanding of both Jesus and love for Him.The Proper Source of Our Obedience
It isn’t fear, pride, or desire to earn blessing. The proper source of obedience is love. “Obedience must have love for its mother, nurse, and food. The essence of obedience lies in the hearty love which prompts the deed rather than in the deed itself.” 2
But such behavior is not legalism. Legalism is a slavish following of the law in the belief that one earns some merit by doing such a strict following. Legalism also entails a refusal to go beyond the formal or literal requirements of the law. Legalism ignores the fact that we never outgrow the need for divine grace and ignores the fact that the essence of God’s law is love. 3
One cannot fall in love in the abstract. Love comes through an encounter with another person. The same is true of faith. If faith is a relationship with the living Christ and the living God who sent him, then faith can only come through an encounter with them.
Keeping Jesus’ commands is also showing our love for His teachings. As a teacher, Jesus demonstrated God’s love by loving others. We should do the same.
“Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:4-6).
Keeping the commandments is serving God despite our sins. We can learn from Jesus and how He served the disciples despite their sins. He demonstrated His love for them in a way no one would ever do. Jesus did this by cleansing their feet.In Conclusion –
In conclusion, the events surrounding the Last Supper, particularly Jesus’ words to His disciples in John 14:15, serve as a powerful reminder of the importance of actions in demonstrating one’s devotion. The statement, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments,” encapsulates the essence of genuine commitment and love for Jesus. This famous biblical quote continues to inspire and challenge individuals to live out their faith through obedient and devoted actions.
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Consider the Daily Bread email message sent on 4/27/2005, 2/20/2009 and 1/10/2023 which says,
Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:14, NASB) but we believers are not at liberty to reject such commands.
Scripture does not give us any basis for disregarding God’s revealed commands; therefore, we must seek to guide our lives by these precepts.
But such behavior is not legalism. Legalism is a slavish following of the law in the belief that one earns some merit by doing such a strict following. Legalism also entails a refusal to go beyond the formal or literal requirements of the law.
Legalism ignores the fact that we never outgrow the need for divine grace and ignores the fact that the essence of God’s law is love.You Can Receive The Daily Bread, for FREE
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- George E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974)
- Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. “Commentary on John 14:15”. “Spurgeon’s Verse Expositions of the Bible”. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/john-14.html. 2011. These files are public domain.
- Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 1985), pg. 873.