And whatever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.…
The keyword of the preceding context is "Believe!" and that word passes now into "Love." The believing gaze upon Christ kindles love and prompts to obedience. There is another very beautiful and subtle link. Our Lord has just been saying, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name that will I do." The Lord does as the servant asks, and the servant is to do as the Lord commands. On both sides there is love delighting to be set in motion by a message from the other side.
I. THE ALL-SUFFICIENT IDEAL OR GUIDE FOR LIFE. The authoritative tone which Christ assumes is noteworthy. He speaks as Jehovah spoke from Sinai; and quotes the very words of the old law. There are distinctly involved, in this incidental utterance, two startling things — one the assumption of the right to impose His will upon every human being, and the other that His will contains the all-sufficient directory for conduct.
1. What, then, are His commandments? Those which He spoke are plain and simple; and some people crow loud if, scratching amongst rabbinical dust heaps, they find something that looks like anything that He once said. What does that matter? Christ's "commandments" are Christ Himself. There is the originality and uniqueness of Christ as a moral teacher, that He says, "Copy Me."
1. Its law is to be found in His life.
2. And then, if that be so, what a change passes on the aspect of law! Everything that was hard, repellent, far-off, cold, vanishes. We have no longer tables of stone, but fleshy tables of a heart; and the Law stands before us, a Being to be loved, to be clung to, to be trusted in, and whom it is blessedness to know and perfection to be like.
3. It is enough for conduct, for character, and in all perplexities of conflicting duties that we listen to and obey the Voice that says, "Keep My commandments."
II. THE ALL-POWERFUL MOTIVE. The Revised Version reads, "If ye love Me ye will keep," etc., making it an assurance and not an injunction.
1. The principle that underlies these words is, that love is the foundation of obedience, and obedience is the sure outcome and result of love. We all know that love which is real delights most chiefly in knowing and conforming to the will of the beloved. And you have only to lift that which is the experience of every true heart into the higher regions, to see that Christ has invoked an omnipotent power.
2. That is exactly what lifts the morality of the Gospel above all other systems. It is not for want of knowledge that men go to the devil, but for want of power to live their knowledge. And what morality fails to do with its clearest utterances of human duty, Christ comes and does. The one is like the useless proclamations posted up in some rebellious district, where there is no army to back them. The other gets itself obeyed. Here is the road plain and straight. What matters that if there is no force to draw the cart along it. Here stand all your looms, polished and in perfect order, but there is no steam in the boilers; and so there is no motion and nothing manufactured. What we want is not law, but power. And what the gospel stands alone in giving us, is not merely the clear revelation of what we ought to be, but it is the power to become it.
3. Love does that, and love alone. The true way to cleanse the Augean stables, was to turn the river into them. It would have been endless to wheel out the filth in wheelbarrows loaded by spades. When the ark comes into the Temple, Dagon lies, a mutilated stump, upon the threshold. Christ, and He alone, entering my heart by the portals of my love, will coerce my evil and stimulate my good.
4. Here is a plain test and a double-barreled one.
(1) There is no love worth calling so which does not keep the commandment. All the emotional and the mystic, and the so-called higher parts of Christian experience have to be content to submit to this plain test — do they help us to live as Christ would have us, and that because He would have us? Not that in regard of each action there must be the conscious reference to the supreme love. The colouring matter put in at the fountain will dye every drop of the stream; and they whose inmost hearts are tinged and tinctured with the sweet love of Jesus Christ, from their hearts will go forth issues of life all coloured and moulded thereby.
(2) There is no obedience worth calling so which is not the child of love; and all the multitude of right things which Christians do, without that motive, are made short work of by the principle. Obedience which is mechanical and matter of course, or which is forced upon us by dread, is nothing. This is a sieve with very small meshes, and there will be a great deal of rubbish left in it after the shaking.
III. THE ALL-SUBDUING GAZE. This is not included in the text, but it is necessary to complete the view of the forces to which Christ here entrusts the hallowing of life. Nothing will kindle a man's love but the faithful contemplation and grasp of the Redeeming Christ.
1. Here is a man, dead for nineteen centuries, expecting you and me to have towards Him a vivid personal affection which will influence our conduct and our character. What right has He to expect that? There is only one reasonable ground, and that is, that He died for me. And such a love towards such a Christ is the only thing which will wield power sufficient to guide, to coerce, to restrain, to constrain, and to sustain my weak, wayward, rebellious, and sluggish will.
2. Here is a unique fact in the history of the world, that not only did He make this astounding claim, but that it has been responded to, and that today there are millions of men who love Jesus Christ with a love warm, personal, deep, powerful — the spring of all their goodness and the Lord of their lives. Why do they? For one reason only. Because they believe that He died for them, and that He lives an ascended yet ever-present Helper and Lover of their souls.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.