John 14:15
If you love me, keep my commandments.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) If ye love me, keep my commandments.—Comp. Notes on John 14:17; John 13:34; John 15:10. The connection here is through the condition “in My name,” which includes willing obedience to His commands. The word “My” is emphatic—“The commandments which ye have received from Me.” Those of this last discourse are perhaps prominent in the thought.

John

LOVE AND OBEDIENCE

John 14:15
.

As we have seen in former sermons, the keyword of the preceding context is ‘Believe!’ and that word passes now into ‘Love.’ The order here is the order of experience. There is first the believing gaze upon the Christ as He is revealed-the image of the invisible God. That kindles love, and prompts to obedience.

There is another very beautiful and subtle link of connection between these words and the preceding. Our Lord has just been saying, ‘Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do.’ Is the parallel wholly accidental or fanciful between the Lord who does as the servant asks and the servant who 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. On the one part there is love supreme which commands and delights to be asked, on the other part there is love dependent, which asks and delights to be commanded; and though the gulf between the two is great, and the difference between Christ’s law and our petitions is infinite, yet there is an analogy.

I pause on these words, though they are introduced here only as the basis of the great promise which follows, because they open out into such wide fields. They contain the all-sufficient law of Christian conduct. They contain the one motive adequate to bring that law into realisation. They disclose the very roots of Christian morality, and part of the secret of Christ’s unique power and influence amongst men. They come with a message of encouragement to all souls despairing of being able to do that which they would, and of freedom to all men burdened with a crowd of minute and external regulations. ‘If ye love Me, keep My commandments’-there are three points to be dwelt upon here-namely, the all-sufficient ideal or guide of life, the all-powerful motive which Christ brings to bear, and the all-subduing gaze of faith by which that motive is brought into action.

I. We have here the all-sufficient ideal or guide for life.

Jesus Christ is not speaking merely to that little handful of men in the upper chamber, but to all generations and to all lands, to the end of time and round the world. The authoritative tone which He assumes here is very noteworthy. He speaks as Jehovah spoke from Sinai, and quotes the very words of the old law when He speaks of ‘keeping My commandments.’ There are distinctly involved in this quite incidental utterance of Christ’s two startling things-one the assumption of His right to impose His will upon every human being, and the other His assumption that His will contains the all-sufficient directory for human conduct.

What, then, are His commandments? Those which He spoke are plain and simple; and people who wish to pick holes in the greatness of Christ’s work in the world tell us that you can match almost all His precepts up and down amongst moralists and philosophers, and they crow very loud if, scratching amongst Rabbinical dust-heaps, they find something that looks like anything that He once said. Be it so! What does that matter? Christ’s ‘commandments’ are Christ Himself. This is the originality and uniqueness of Christ as a moral Teacher, that He says, not ‘Do this, that, and the other thing,’ but ‘Copy Me.’ ‘Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.’ His commandments are Himself; and the sum of them all is this-a character perfectly self-oblivious, and wholly penetrated and saturated with joyful, filial submission to the Father, and uttermost and entire giving Himself away to His brethren. That is Christ’s commandment which He bids us keep, and His law is to be found in His life.

And then, if that be so, what a change passes on the aspect of law, when we take Christ as being our living embodiment of it! Everything that was hard, repellent, far-off, cold, vanishes. We have no longer ‘tables of stone,’ but ‘fleshy tables of the heart’; and the Law stands before us, a Being to be loved, to be clung to, to be trusted, and whom it is blessedness to know and perfection to resemble. The rails upon which the train travels may be rigid, but they mean safety, and they carry men smoothly into otherwise inaccessible lands. So the life of Jesus Christ brought to us is the firm and plain track along which we are to travel; and all that was difficult and hard in the cold thought of duty becomes changed into the attraction of a living Pattern and Example. This living and breathing and loving commandment is all-sufficient for every detail and complexity of human life. It is so by the confession of believers and of unbelievers, by the joyful confession of the one, and by the frank acknowledgment of many of the others. Listen to one of them. ‘Whatever else may be taken away from us by rational criticism, Christ is still left, a unique Figure, not more unlike all His predecessors than all His followers . . . . Religion cannot be said to have made a bad choice in selecting this Man as the ideal Representative and Guide of humanity; nor even now would it be easy, even for an unbeliever, to find a better translation of the rule of virtue from the abstract into the concrete than to endeavour so to live that Christ would approve our life.’

It is enough for conduct, it is enough for character, it is enough in all perplexities of conflicting duties, that we listen to and obey the voice that says, ‘Keep My commandments.’

II. Now note, secondly, the all-powerful motive.

Probably my text is best understood as the Revised Version understands it, which reads, ‘If ye love Me, ye will keep My commandments,’ making it an assurance and not an injunction. Christ speaks with the calm confidence that love to Him will have power enough to sway the life. His utterance here is not the addition of another commandment to the list, but rather the pointing out of how they may all be kept.

The principle that underlies these words, then, is this, that love is the foundation of obedience, and obedience is the sure outcome and result of love. That is true in regard to those lower forms of love, which may teach us something of the operation of the higher. We all know that love which is real, and not simply passion and selfishness with a mask on, delights most chiefly in knowing and conforming to the will of the beloved, and that there is nothing sweeter than to be commanded by the dear voice and to obey for dear love’s sake. And you have only to take that which is the experience of every true heart, in a thousand sweet ways in daily life, and to lift it into the higher region, and to transfer it to the bond that unites us with Jesus Christ, to see that He has invoked no illusory, but an omnipotent power when He has rested the whole force of His transforming and sanctifying energy upon this one principle, ‘If ye love Me, the Lawgiver, ye will keep the commandments of My Law.’

That is exactly what distinguishes and lifts the morality of the Gospel above all other systems. The worst man in the world knows a great deal more of his duty than the best man does. It is not for want of knowledge that men go to the devil, but it is for want of power or will to live their knowledge. And what morality fails to do, with its clearest utterances of human duty, Christ comes and does. The one law is like the useless proclamations posted up in some rebellious district, where there is no army to back them, and the king’s authority from whom they come is flouted. The other law gets itself obeyed. Such is the difference between the powerless morality of the world and the commandment of Jesus Christ. Here is the road plain and straight. What matters that, if there is no force to draw the cart along it? There might as well be no road at all. 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 is woven. What we want is not law, but power, and what the Gospel gives us, and stands alone in giving us, is not merely the knowledge of the will of God, and the clear revelation of what we ought to be, but the power to become it.

Love does that, and love alone. That strong force brought into action in our hearts will drive out from thence all rivals, all false and low things. The true way to cleanse the Augean stables, as the old myth has it, was to turn the river into them. It would have been endless work to wheel out the filth in wheelbarrows loaded by spades: turn the stream in, and it will sweep away all the foulness. When the Ark comes into the Temple, Dagon lies, a mutilated stump, upon the threshold. When Christ comes into my heart, then all the obscene and twilight-loving shapes that lurked there, and defiled it, will vanish like ghosts at cock-crowing before His calm and pure Presence. He, and He alone, entering my heart by the portals of my love, will coerce my evil and stimulate my good. And if I love Him, I shall keep His commandments.

Now, brethren, here is a plain test and a double-barrelled one, which tries both our love and our obedience with a sharp touchstone. ‘If ye love Me, ye will keep My commandments.’ That implies, first, that 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? Love to Him that does not keep His commandments is either spurious or dangerously feeble. The true sign of its presence in the heart and the noblest of its operations is not to be found in high-pitched expressions of fervid emotion, nor even in the sacred joys of solitary communion, but in its making us, while in the rough struggle of daily life, and surrounded by trivial tasks, live near Him, and by Him, and for Him, and like Him. If I live so, I love Him; if not, not. Not that I mean to say that in regard to each individual action of a Christian man’s life there must be the conscious presence of reference to the supreme love, but that each individual action of the life ought to come from a character of which that reference to the supreme love is the very formative principle and foundation. 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. Test your Christian love by your practical obedience.

And, on the other hand, 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 that consideration. Obedience which is formal, mechanical, matter-of-course, without the presence in it of a loving submission of the will; obedience which is reluctant, calculated, forced upon us by dread, imitated from others-all that is nothing; and Jesus Christ does not count it as obedience at all. This is a sieve with very small meshes, and there will be a great deal of rubbish left in it after the shaking. ‘If ye love Me, keep My commandments.’ The ‘keeping of My commandments’ which has not ‘love to Me’ underlying it is no keeping at all.

III. And so, lastly, notice the all-subduing gaze.

That is not included in my text, but it is necessary in order to complete the view of the forces to which Jesus Christ here entrusts the hallowing of life and the sanctifying of our nature; and we are led to refer to it by what I have already pointed out; the connection between the ‘love’ of my text and the ‘believe’ of the preceding verses. I can fancy a man saying, ‘Keep His commandments? Woe is me! How am I to keep?’ The answer is ‘Love.’ And I can fancy him saying ‘Love?’ Yes! ‘And how am I to love? I cannot get up love at the word of command, or by any voluntary effort.’ And the answer comes again, ‘Believe!’ Trust Christ, and you will love Him. Love Him and you will do His will. And then the question comes again, ‘Believe what?’ And the answer comes, ‘Believe that He is the Son of God who died for you.’

Nothing else will kindle a man’s love than the faithful contemplation and grasp of Christ in that character and aspect. Only the redeeming Christ affords a reasonable ground for our love to Him. Here is a dead 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 upon which I may be called to love Jesus Christ, 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. All other emotions of so-called admiration and worship and reverence and affection for Jesus Christ are apt to be tepid; but this one has power and warmth in it.

Here is a unique fact in the history of the world, that not only did He make this astounding claim upon all subsequent generations; but that all subsequent generations have responded to it, and that to-day 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 individually, and that He lives an ascended yet ever-present Helper and Lover of their souls.

My brethren, that conviction, and that conviction only, as I venture to affirm, has power to send a glow of love into the heart which will move all the limbs in swift and happy obedience. That conviction, and that conviction alone, will melt the thick-ribbed ice of our spirits and will make it flow down in sweet waters. The love that has looked upon the Cross will be the fulfilling of the law of Him that speaks from the Throne. When our faith has grasped Him, as enduring that cross for us, then our love will be awakened to hear and to do His commandments.

‘We love Him because He first loved us,’ and such love will flower and fruit in obedience. I shall keep His commandments when I love Him. I shall love Him with a love that makes my will plastic and my life a glad service, when by faith I grasp Him as the Incarnate Lord, ‘who loved me and gave Himself for me.’John 14:15-17. If ye love me — As ye profess to do, keep my commandments — For that will be a surer test and more acceptable expression of your regard for me than all your trouble and concern at parting with me. Keeping Christ’s commandments is evidently here put for the practice of godliness in general, and for the faithful and diligent discharge of their office as apostles in particular. And I will pray the Father — Here we see, that he required a steady obedience to his commands, as the condition on which their prayers would be heard; (see John 15:7; 1 John 3:22;) and assured them, on their complying with that condition, he would send them another comforter, advocate, monitor, encourager, or intercessor, as the word παρακλητος may be properly rendered; another — For Christ himself was one: that he may abide with you for ever

With you and your followers in faith, unto the end of the world; to supply the want of my bodily presence. Even the Spirit of truth — Who has, reveals, testifies, and defends the truth, and whose office it is to guide my disciples into every branch of divine and sacred truth. Whom the world — Carnal and worldly people, who do not love or fear God; cannot receive — Except in the way of repentance and faith, in which way they will not be persuaded to walk; because it seeth him not — Having no spiritual senses, no internal eye, to discern the nature, necessity, or utility of his influences; nor consequently knoweth him. But ye know him — Namely, in some measure, even now, by his powerful operation in you and by you; for he dwelleth — Greek, μενει, abideth; with you — In part, helping your infirmities, awakening your minds to a sense of the certainty and importance of things spiritual and eternal, and exciting in you sincere and earnest desires to know and do the will of God; and shall be in you — By a much more ample communication, both of his gifts and graces: constituting you the temples of God, and a habitation of his holiness.14:12-17 Whatever we ask in Christ's name, that shall be for our good, and suitable to our state, he shall give it to us. To ask in Christ's name, is to plead his merit and intercession, and to depend upon that plea. The gift of the Spirit is a fruit of Christ's mediation, bought by his merit, and received by his intercession. The word used here, signifies an advocate, counsellor, monitor, and comforter. He would abide with the disciples to the end of time; his gifts and graces would encourage their hearts. The expressions used here and elsewhere, plainly denote a person, and the office itself includes all the Divine perfections. The gift of the Holy Ghost is bestowed upon the disciples of Christ, and not on the world. This is the favour God bears to his chosen. As the source of holiness and happiness, the Holy Spirit will abide with every believer for ever.If ye love me - Do not show your love by grief at my departure merely; or by profession, but by obedience.

Keep my commandments - This is the only proper evidence of love to Jesus, for mere profession is no proof of love; but that love for him which leads us to do all his will, to love each other, to deny ourselves, to take up our cross, and to follow him through evil report and through good report, is true attachment. The evidence which we have that a child loves its parents is when that child is willing, without hesitation, gainsaying, or complaining, to do all that the parent requires him to do. So the disciples of Christ are required to show that they are attached to him supremely by yielding to all his requirements, and by patiently doing his will in the face of ridicule and opposition, 1 John 5:2-3.

15-17. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, &c.—This connection seems designed to teach that the proper temple for the indwelling Spirit of Jesus is a heart filled with that love to Him which lives actively for Him, and so this was the fitting preparation for the promised gift.

he shall give you another Comforter—a word used only by John; in his Gospel with reference to the Holy Spirit, in his First Epistle (1Jo 2:1), with reference to Christ Himself. Its proper sense is an "advocate," "patron," "helper." In this sense it is plainly meant of Christ (1Jo 2:1), and in this sense it comprehends all the comfort as well as aid of the Spirit's work. The Spirit is here promised as One who would supply Christ's own place in His absence.

that he may abide with you for ever—never go away, as Jesus was going to do in the body.

Do not show your love to me in mourning, and being troubled for my going from you; but show it by your obedience to what I have commanded you. True love must not evaporate in compliment, but discover itself in a strict observance of the commandments of God. If ye love me,.... Not that Christ doubted of the love of his disciples to him; but he argues from it to their observance of his precepts, seeing ye do love me; as all do who are born again, who have had any spiritual sight of him, of his glory, suitableness, and fulness; who believe in him, and have received from him; who have had his love shed abroad in their hearts, having enjoyed communion with him, and know the relation he stands in to them; these love him above all others, and all of him, and that belong to him, unfeignedly, and in the sincerity of their souls, as did the disciples; and since they professed to love, and did love him, as they ought to do, he exhorts them, saying,

keep my commandments: Christ is Lord over his people, as he is the Creator and Redeemer of them, and as he is an head and husband to them, and as such he has a right to issue out his commands, and enjoin a regard unto them; and these are peculiarly "his", as distinct from, though not in opposition to, or to the exclusion of, his Father's commands; such as the new commandment of loving one another, and the ordinances of baptism, and the Lord's supper, which are to be observed and kept as Christ has ordered them, constantly, in faith, and with a view to his glory.

{6} If ye love me, keep my commandments.

(6) He loves Christ rightly who obeys his commandment: and because obedience to Christ is accompanied with an infinite type and amount of miseries, although he is absent in body, yet he comforts his own with the present power of the Holy Spirit, whom the world despises, because it does not know him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 14:15. A new exhortation—to keep His commandments in proof of their love to Him—in order, John 14:14, to attach a new promise thereto. But exhortation and promise are thus necessarily connected, as in John 14:11-12 ff. Hence the latter not without the former. Comp. John 14:21.

Note the emphatic τὰς ἐμάς: which you have from me; they are not those of the O. T., but the completion of these. Comp. on John 13:34.John 14:15-17. The second encouragement: the promise of another Paraclete.15. If ye love me] The connexion with what precedes is again not quite clear. Some would see it in the condition ‘in My name,’ which includes willing obedience to His commands. Perhaps it is rather to be referred to the opening and general drift of the chapter. ‘Let not your heart be troubled at My going away. You will still be Mine, I shall still be yours, and we shall still be caring for one another. I go to prepare a place for you, you remain to continue and surpass My work on earth. And though you can no longer minister to Me in the flesh, you can prove your love for Me even more perfectly by keeping My commandments when I am gone.’ ‘My’ is emphatic; not those of the Law but of the Gospel.

keep] The better reading is ye will keep. Only in these last discourses does Christ speak of His commandments: comp. John 14:21, John 13:34, John 15:10; John 15:12. See on John 14:27.John 14:15. Ἐὰν ἀγαπᾶτέ με, if ye love Me) Immediately after faith, He exhorts them to love [John 14:21].Verse 15. - If ye love me, keep my commandments. This great saying is enlarged on in the subsequent section - the relation of love to obedience, obedience producing love, and love suggesting obedience and supplying it with motive. Τὰς ἐντολὰς τὰς ἐμάς, "the commandments which are peculiarly mine" (see Westcott on John 15:9), "as either adopted and reuttered by me, or as originating in my new relation to you." "Guard them as a sacred deposit, obey them as the only reasonable response you can make to authoritative command." It is somewhat startling to find the great promise that follows conditioned by loving obedience, seeing that love and obedience in any sinful man, love to Christ itself, are elsewhere made the work of the Holy Spirit. But we here come across that which often perplexes the student, viz. the contrast between the general idea of the constant and continuous work of grace in human hearts, and the special manifestation in personal glory and Divine activity of the Holy Ghost on Pentecost. Keep (τηρήσατε)

The best tests read τηρήσετε, ye will keep. Lay up in your hearts and preserve by careful watching. See on reserved, 1 Peter 1:4.

My commandments (τὰς ἐντολὰς τὰς ἐμὰς)

Literally, the commandments which are mine. See on John 10:27.

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