And whatever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.…
This is a chapter singularly full of certainties, and remarkably studded with "ifs."
1. Look at ver. 2. If there had been no place for us in the glory land Jesus would have told us.
2. Notice ver. 3. If the Lord Jesus should go away (and this is a supposition no longer), then He would return again in due time. His home going pledges Him to come, and compels us to look for Him.
3. The next "if" comes at the beginning of ver. 7. If we really know Christ, we know God. In fact, there is no knowing God aright except through His Son. If our scientific men get away from the Christ, the incarnate God, before long they drift away from God altogether.
4. The next variety of "if" is in ver. 14. Taking it for granted that we ask mercies in the name of Jesus, a glorious certainty is linked thereto — "I will do it."
5. Again, you have "if" in ver. 23. Respect to His wisdom, and obedience to His authority, will grow out of love.
6. The chapter almost closes at ver. 28, by saying, "If ye loved Me, ye would rejoice," etc. Where there is an intelligent love to Christ we rejoice in His gains even though we ourselves appear to be losers thereby.
I. THE "IF" IS OUR TEXT IS A VERY SERIOUS ONE. It goes to the very root of the matter. Love belongs to the heart; and every surgeon will tell you that a disease of the heart may not be trifled with. Solomon bids us keep the heart with all diligence, "for out of it are the issues of life." If the mainspring fails, all the works of a watch refuse to act.
1. Our Saviour puts this "if" in such a way as to teach us that love must be prior to obedience. 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. A heart at enmity with God cannot be made acceptable by mere acts of piety. It is not what your hands are doing, nor even what your lips are saying; the main thing is what your heart is meaning and intending. The great flywheel which moves the whole machinery of life is fixed in the heart: hence this is the most important of all suggestions, "If ye love Me." When the heathen killed their sacrifices in order to prophesy future events from the entrails, the worst augury they ever got was when the priest could not find a heart; or if that heart was small and shrivelled. It is so in very deed with religion and with each religious person. He that searches us searches principally our hearts.
2. Love to Jesus is put first because it is the best reason for our obedience to Him. Notice: "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." Personal affection will produce personal obedience. There are some men for whom you would do anything. The Saviour may much more safely than any other be installed in such a position. This is the spring and source of all holy living — love to the Holy One.
3. It was greatly needful for our Lord thus to address His disciples. We should never have doubted one of them. We now know by the result that one of them was a traitor, but no one suspected him. Ah! if that question, "If ye love Me," needed to be raised in the sacred college of the twelve, much more must it be allowed to sift our churches, and to test ourselves. Perhaps you have almost taken it for granted that you love Jesus; but it must not be taken for granted. It is most kind of the Saviour to give you an opportunity of examining yourself and seeing whether you are right at heart.
4. Remember, if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ he will be anathema maranatha, cursed at His coming. This applies to every man, even though he be most eminent. An apostle turned out to be a son of perdition — may not you?
5. The question is answerable. It was put to the apostles, and they could answer it. Peter spoke as all the eleven would have done when he said, "Thou knowest that I love Thee." It is not a question concerning mysteries. A man may know whether he loves the Lord or not, and he ought to know. Do not be content with merely longing to love Jesus; or with longing to know whether you love Him. Not love Jesus I It were better for me not to live than not to love Him.
II. THE TEST WHICH IS PROPOSED IN THE TEXT IS A VERY JUDICIOUS ONE. "If ye love Me."
1. The test indicated does not suggest a lawless liberty. Let us never enter into the counsel of those who do not believe that there are any commandments for believers to keep. Those who do away with duty do away with sin, and consequently with the Saviour. Jesus does not say, so long as you love Me in your hearts, I care nothing about your lives. He that loves Christ is the freest man out of heaven, but he is also the most under bonds. He is free, for Christ has loosed his bonds, but he is put under bonds to Christ by grateful love.
2. The text also contains no fanatical challenge. We do not read, "If ye love Me, perform some extraordinary act." Hermits, nuns, and religious mad caps find no example or precept here. Every now and then we find members of our churches who must needs leave their trades and their callings to show their love for Jesus: children may starve and wives may pine, but their mad whims must be carried out for love of Jesus.
3. Why does the Saviour give us this as a test? Because —
(1) It tests whether you are loving Christ in His true position, or whether your love is to a Christ of your own making, and your own placing. Moses never used an expression such as our Saviour here employs. He might say, "Keep God's commandments"; but He would never have said, "Keep My commandments." By obedience you own Christ's sovereignty and Godhead. We do not love Jesus if He is not our Lord and God. Love Him, and belittle Him! It is absurd.
(2) It proves the living presence of the object of your love. Love always desires to have its object near, and it has a faculty of bringing its object near. A gentleman has faithful servants; he goes away, and leaves his house in their charge. They are not eye servants, and so they work none the less because he is absent. If he does not see them, yet the eyes of their love always see him, and therefore they work as if he were at home. So Christ has gone away, but He is made present to us by our realizing love; and the proof of our love is that Jesus is so present that He constrains our actions, influences our motives, and is the cause of our obedience.
(3) By keeping our Lord's commandments we are doing that which is most pleasing to Him, and will most glorify Him. There is the answer to every rapturous inquiry.
(4) Moreover, the Saviour knew, when He bade us try this test, that it would prepare us for honouring and glorifying Him in many ways. When a friend is dying, and he asks you to prove your love by such and such a deed, he may ask what he wills; you give him carte blanche. Baptism and the Lord's supper will never be slighted by those whose hearts are fully possessed with love to Jesus. They may seem trifles, but if the Lord Jesus commands them they cannot be neglected.
III. TRUE LOVE WILL ENDURE THE TEST. "If ye love Me, ye will keep My commandments." This is the Revised Version, and I hope it will be written out in capitals upon our revised lives! If you love Christ —
1. Set to work to find out what His commandments are.
2. Be always true to your convictions about what Christ's commandments are. Carry them out at all hazards, and carry them out at once.
3. Take note of every commandment as it concerns you. If there be a commandment which you do not relish, it ought to be a warning to you that there is something wrong in your heart that needs setting right.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.