He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father…
I. THE OBEDIENCE WHICH IS THE SIGN AND TEST OF LOVE. The words are here substantially equivalent to ver. 15. Only the former begins with the root and traces it upwards to its fruits, love blossoming into obedience. Our text reverses the process. Note —
1. How remarkably our Lord here declares the possession of His commandments to be a sign of love to Him. "He that hath," etc. There are two ways of having: in the Bible, and in the heart; before my eye as a law that I ought to obey, or within my will, as a power that shapes it. And the latter is the only kind of "having" that Christ regards as real and valid. Love possesses the knowledge of the loved one's will. Do we not all know how strange is the power of divining desires that goes along with true affection, and how the power, not only of divining, but of treasuring, these desires is the thermometer of our true love. Some of us, perhaps, have laid away in sacred, secret places tattered yellow old bits of paper with the words of a dear one on them that we would not part with. "He that hath My commandments" laid up in lavender in the recesses of his faithful heart, he it is "that loveth Me."
2. Obedience: There are two motives for keeping commandments, one, because they are commanded, and one because we love Him that commands. The one is slavery, the other is liberty. The one is like the Arctic regions, cold and barren, the other is like tropical lands, full of warmth and sunshine, glorious and glad fertility.
3. The form of the sentence suggests how easy it is for people to delude themselves about their love to Jesus Christ. That emphatic "He," and the putting first of the character before He states its root, are directed against false pretensions to love. The love that Christ stamps with His hallmark is no mere emotion, however passionate and sweet; no mere sentiment however pure and deep. The tiniest dribble that drives a mill is better than a Niagara that rushes and foams and tumbles idly. And there is ever so much so-called love to Jesus Christ that goes masquerading up and down the world; from which the paint is stripped by the sharp application of the words of my text.
II. THE DIVINE LOVE AND MANIFESTATION WHICH REWARD OUR LOVE AND OBEDIENCE. Note —
1. The extraordinary boldness of that majestic saying: "If a man loves Me, My Father will love him." God regards our love to Jesus Christ as containing in it the germ of all that is pleasing in His sight. And so, upon our hearts, if we love Christ, there falls the benediction of the Father's love.
2. Of course, our Lord here is not beginning at the very beginning of everything. "We love Him because He first loved us" digs a story deeper down than the words of my text. That being understood, here is a great lesson. It is not all the same to God whether a man is a scoundrel or a saint. God's love is a moral love; and whilst the sunbeams play upon the ice and melt it sometimes, they flash back from, and rest more graciously and fully on, the rippling stream into which the ice has turned. God loves them that love Him not, but the depths of His heart and the secret sacred favours of His grace can only be bestowed upon those who love Christ and obey Him.
3. If, then, we seek to know that dear Lord, the path is plain. Walk on the way of obedience, and Christ will meet us with the unveiling of more and more of His love. To live what we believe is the sure way to increase its amount. To be faithful to the little is the certain way to inherit the much. He gives us His whole self at the first, but we traverse the breadth of the gift by degrees. The flower is but a bud when we get it, and as we hold it, it opens its petals to the light.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.