If you love me, keep my commandments.…
I. OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST AS THE NATURAL CONSEQUENCE OF LOVE TO HIM. "If ye love me," etc. Where there is love to Christ, there is scarcely any need of a command to obey him; but it will follow as the stream from the fountain, or light and heat from the sun. Where there is love to Christ:
1. There is a recognition of his Divine authority. Where there is no authority, there is neither right nor power to command. There may be commands, but they are weak and powerless. Love to Christ recognizes his personal and administrative authority - his authority over the heart, the will, the intellect, the conscience, and over all the physical and spiritual nature. His kingship is freely owned by love.
2. There is a recognition of a close and essential connection between him and his commandments. The king is in his laws. Christ is really in his commandments; they are expressions of his will; they are his will, spoken or written; they are parts of himself; they are, in fact, he himself acting upon and addressing man's moral nature.
3. This recognition is ever practical. "If ye love me, ye will keep," etc. Genuine love ever manifests itself in genuine and practical forms. It does not begin and end in mere sentiment, in good wishes, in sighs and tears, but is essentially practical, and practical in the most pleasing way to its object, in the way requested. "Ye will keep," etc. Filial love ever manifests itself in filial obedience.
4. This recognition is most thorough and comprehensive. "Ye will keep my commandments." Not some of them, but all. The obedience is commensurate with the Master's expressed will. Love is very careful to keep whatsoever is commanded, however apparently small and insignificant. It keeps a sharp look-out whether a command bears the Divine signature and the seal of Divine authority. It seeks not its own way of obedience, but is thoroughly satisfied with the one prescribed by the great Law giver. "What wilt thou have me to do?" is ever the question of love to the Master.
5. This recognition is devotional. "My commandments." They are kept from love to him, from respect for his authority, from sympathy with his nature and character - kept because they are the recognized expressions of his will. Some of them are positive, the reasons for which are not stated; but love will obey them simply because they are his, and obey them for his sake. Jesus is now physically absent, but is ever present in his commands. Love to him finds its manifestation in ready and willing obedience to these. Personally he is now above practical hatred or love, but in his expressed will he is still the Object of both. Love is loyal to him behind his back, and ever true to the absent Savior; to it his laws are "more to be desired than gold, and sweeter than honey."
II. LOVE TO CHRIST AS THE NECESSARY BASIS OF OBEDIENCE TO HIM. "If ye love me," etc. As obedience is the essential consequence of love, so love is the essential basis of obedience. It is essential:
1. To make obedience real. Obedience which does not proceed from genuine love to Christ has no reality in it; it is not the genuine offspring of the heart, the real act of the soul; it lacks the essential motive and inspiration of all Christian deeds. It is formal, mechanical, legal, and empty.
2. To make obedience easy and delightful. Obedience not arising from love is forced, burdensome, and even painful - painful to the man himself and to others. Obedience which springs from fear, selfishness, legality, self-praise, or from mere custom, is insipid and wearisome; while the obedience of love is easy, natural, and pleasant. To such the words of our Lord are full of truth and significance: "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." The least duty, in the absence of love, is really heavy; while the heaviest, with it, is really light. Many have counted it joy to suffer, and even die, for Christ. They rejoiced in chains, and sang in flames. Theirs was the obedience of love, the offering of affection, and the tribute of a willing heart.
3. To make it spiritually and personally valuable. There is no spiritual value in unloving obedience. It may be acceptable with men, and pass as a genuine coin in human markets, but it is a counterfeit in the spiritual and Divine. It may benefit society, but will not spiritually benefit the man himself; and however extensive, minute, and ostentatious its performance may be, it will not score in heaven. It is found wanting in the balance of God, and even in that of the enlightened conscience. "Though I speak with the tongues of men," etc. Love alone can impart spiritual value into obedience, and fill it with life and Divinity.
III. LOVING OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST ENSURING THE DIVINEST BLESSINGS. "If ye love me," etc.; "And I will pray the Father," etc. It brings into the soul the richest blessings, and in its interest the mightiest spiritual agencies.
1. The Holy Spirit.
(1) The Holy Spirit as the Father's Gift to them. "And he shall give," etc. The Spirit is sometimes described as coming of himself, or sent by Christ, but here as the Gift of the Father. All these descriptions are true and highly significant, but not one of them more endearing and attractive than the Spirit as the Father's Gift to his obedient and loving disciples.
(2) As his Gift to them in consequence of Christ's prayer. "I will pray the Father, and he shall give," etc. There is an inseparable connection between the Father's gifts and the Son's prayers. When the Son prays the Father gives, and gives because he prays and what he prays for. What an inestimable blessing to the disciples is the intercession of the object of their love!
(3) As his additional Gift to them It is not that the Spirit is given instead of Christ, but is given in addition to him. It is another installment of Divine love. The Father gave the Son, and this, one would think, was as much as even infinite benevolence could afford to give. But this was only the beginning of his munificence. Here is "another," and there will be another and another still.
2. The Holy Spirit in some of his special characteristics.
(1) As a Comforter, an Advocate, or a Helper. It was some of the special functions of the Spirit to comfort, to intercede for and in, and help believers. And these were the special purposes of the precious Gift.
(2) As the Spirit of truth. Its Source and Essence, its very Spirit, and the Revealer of truth to the soul. Christ was "the Truth," its incarnation and outward expression. The Holy Spirit is its inward Revealer, and who can reveal and communicate truth to the Spirit of man as well as the Spirit of Truth himself?
(3) This was specially required by the disciples now, and required by disciples at all times; and one was already sick at the prospect of the Lord's departure. They would immediately and through life meet with inward and outward troubles, and they required consolation and help. They would, through ignorance and weakness, be exposed to errors and mistakes, and they required inward guidance and light; and these are promised. "He shall give you another Comforter, even the Spirit," etc. There is a most fascinating correspondence between the Father's Gift and the disciples' need.
3. The Spirit as known to them, but not so to the world. On the part of the world there was a terrible inability to receive him - inability arising from spiritual blindness and agnosticism. The world only receives what it can see and handle. It walks by sight and sense, therefore cannot receive the "Spirit of truth." But it was not so with the disciples. The Spirit is promised to them:
(1) As a present Acquaintance. "Ye know him; for he abideth," etc. Not a stranger is introduced to them, but one at least partially known. The Spirit was known to and actually with them in Christ and his teaching. They were prepared to receive him, not as the world.
(2) In his closer fellowship. "And shall be in you." In the Person and life of Christ he was rather without them; but in his special advent he would be within them - in the heart, will, conscience, and reason.
(3) In his permanent indwelling. "And shall be in you and with you for ever," as their ever-present Light, Help, and Comfort.
1. Love is the great law of Christ's kingdom. It is established on this. There is no compulsion, no carnal weapons; but he reigns through love, and he is the only King whose subjects, without an exception, love passionately.
2. Loving obedience to him is most spiritually enriching. It insures the richest blessings and the most powerful spiritual agencies; for the prayers of Christ and the gifts of the Father are not made at random, but made to loving and obedient souls.
3. The supreme importance of possessing love to Christ. Where this is present all besides will naturally and inevitably follow. "If ye love me," etc. - B.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: If ye love me, keep my commandments.