90 Days with Jesus, Day 68: John 14:22-31: Loved So We Can Love (and will)

John 14:22-31 (90 Days with Jesus, Day 68)

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” 23Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. 25″All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.28″You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, 31but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. “Come now; let us leave.

Judas (not Iscariot) asks Jesus a question that Jesus evidently didn’t think was meaningful. Judas asks, Jesus ignores his question altogether and goes back to the subject he’s been hammering home since the 13th chapter: Love. I sense Jesus saying to all of us, “There are some things that, while important, are not nearly as critical as others.” Primarily here he is telling us that the love we have for him takes second seat to no one, no thing, no topic. He began this section of Scripture by showing us the ‘full extent of his love’ by washing the feet of the disciples. He told us to imitate him, to love one another, to love one another, and to love one another. He’ll say other things about this love later too.

Eugene Peterson has an interesting thought about this love. In Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places he writes,

As we develop genetically, things come into play that do require teaching and training: reading and writing, social skills, artistic and athletic competence, emotional and relational understandings, how to repair a transmission, how to program a computer, how to get to the moon. At the top of these learned behaviors, these achieved identities, is love” (327-328).

What? We have to learn how to love?

“Everyone more or less knows this, but after we’ve reached the age of thirty or so, having failed at it so many times, it seems so out of reach that many of us settle for a human identity that is more accessible—like the one associated with playing the violin, or playing a ten-handicap gold game, or repairing a transmission, or getting to the moon. When we run into John’s barrage of sentences on love, it just doesn’t seem very practical. We shrug our shoulders and say, ‘Well, I’ve tried it, tried it a lot. I don’t seem to be very good at it, and the friends I’ve tried it on don’t seem to be very good at it either. How about something a little more down to earth?” (328)

True, we are quick to quit. We easily give up when we fail at love—or, when others fail at love to us. If loving our friends and enemies whom we can see is difficult, imagine how much more difficult it will be to love Jesus whom we cannot see. But here’s where Peterson cinches it:

“This is who you are, your identity, loved by God. But being loved is not all there is to it. Being loved creates a person who can love, who must love. Getting love is a launch into giving love….Every sentence [of John] comes out more or less the same: God loves you; Christ shows you how love works; now you love. Love, love, love, love. Just do it.” (328-329; Peterson is talking about our love for one another and his context is 1 John. Nevertheless, the point is the same.)

If Jesus washed our feet (or if he died on the cross ‘for God so loved the world’ or demonstrated his love while we were yet sinners by dying on the cross) he has not merely created people who are grateful; he has created people who can and will love. This love transcends all the prejudice and hatred and anger and arrogance of others and of ourselves. Furthermore, I believe this love starts with Jesus. If the words Jesus spoke are the Words of the Father, then God is telling us the necessary requirements of his affection: If we are loved, we must love. If we truly love, we will be loved. I don’t think it is possible to say, “I Love Jesus” and not submit to his authority and to his Lordship. If we say we love Jesus then we will have no problems joyfully responding to his call with obedience and submission. But those who refuse to submit to Him in joy and obedience really call their own love into question for the very reason that they are challenging Jesus’ authority to set the standards of reciprocal love.

I don’t think Jesus is talking here about saving grace. I think Jesus is talking about the love that someone professing to be saved, someone professing to be a disciple, will demonstrate. By our obedience to Him, by our submission to him, we demonstrate our love and affection. Is it too much for Jesus to ask that we demonstrate our love for him? Does he even ask us to do so of our own strength? Or does ‘the Counselor’ sent in Jesus’ Name by the Father, guide and direct into the path of obedient love? Furthermore, doesn’t Jesus set the example: “…the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” Is this not the example we are to follow?

We are loved, then, in order that we might love in return. We follow the example of Jesus. There is nothing but obedience for those who claim to love Jesus. If we love him, we will obey him and demonstrate that we truly belong to Him.

What does it mean to obey him? How do we demonstrate our love for him? How can we follow his example and be obedient to his will as he was obedient to the Father’s will? That’s the trick, isn’t it? But then again, is it hard? I think not because it all starts back in chapter 13 and the demonstration of the full extent of our love for one another. I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to say that our demonstration of love, through obedience, for Jesus starts with our obedience to his ‘new’ command that we love one another. Think about it: If we cannot obey this one simply command, to love one another, do you think it possible we can obey anything else that Jesus commanded us to do? Or, take it from this way, if we have never known or even experienced the Love of Jesus do you think for a minute we will be compelled to love Him or love one another?

In many ways, I think it is time for the world to see that Christians, those who follow Jesus, always do what Jesus commanded us. It is time for the world to understand that we follow no one but Jesus, that we serve no one but Jesus, that we love no god but Jesus. It is time for the world to see that Christians always do exactly what Jesus commanded us, and I think this starts with love. The first step to learning how to love is by being loved. Jesus loves us, and demonstrates that love, so that we can love, and will.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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