Summary: Jesus guarantees that he has a relationship with us for life.
“Setting Troubled Hearts at Rest: A Relationship for Life”
One of our sons, when he was very young, had a fear that centered on me and Barb. Every time we left to go somewhere he was concerned that something would happen and feared we therefore would not come back. When we learned about this we had to make some adjustments in some things we said and did to try to help alleviate his fear and instill confidence within him. So I have some sympathy with both the disciples and Jesus; with the disciples because I understand their frantic concern that about the possibility that Jesus would not be back, and with Jesus because He needed to address their fear. As usual, Jesus was up to the task as He assured the disciples that He and they would have a relationship for life. Let’s take a look at just what that means.
Jesus told the disciples that if they wanted trouble free hearts, if they wanted to know what to do and how to survive in the future, they needed a lifelong relationship with Him. Since the key to any long lasting relationship is what each person puts into it, it’s not surprising that Jesus said the disciples could have such a relationship if they would LOVE THE LORD. Understanding that these men really did love Him, Jesus said “If you love me…” He did not doubt their love for Him – He was moving them beyond their feelings to action. It’s like saying, “If you really feel that way then do something about it.” We need to keep in mind the Old Testament background. THE ISRAELITES WERE OFTEN TOLD TO LOVE GOD; TO LOVE GOD WAS THEIR PRIMARY DUTY IN LIFE. Recall Dt. 6:5, the cornerstone of Jewish belief and practice – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Jesus, when He was asked about the greatest commandment, made reference to this by saying, “You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and the great commandment.” (Mt. 22:37-38)
Certainly love played a prominent role in Jesus’ life and teaching, but only John presents Jesus as directing this love towards Himself. Yet that makes sense since Jesus repeatedly emphasized that He and the Father were one, that those who had seen Him had seen the Father. So it follows logically that THE DISCIPLES COULD LOVE GOD BY LOVING JESUS, that through loving Him they were truly loving the Father. Nine times John portrays Jesus talking about loving Him. Four of those times occur in our passage this morning. (14:15, 21, 23, 24) “If you love me…he is the one who loves me…if anyone loves me…he who does not love me…” Then, following His resurrection, as He talked with and restored Peter, Jesus asked him three times, “Do you love me?” It’s clear that loving Jesus is not an emotional thing; it is not an intellectual or mental commitment. It is a matter of the heart. It is the heart that focuses and connects our affections, our wills, and our devotion to an object or person. To love Jesus means that we focus our hearts, affections, and wills on Jesus. This lifelong relationship begins with loving the Lord Jesus.
But just how do we love the Lord? What does loving Jesus look like? “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” Tom had won a toy at a raffle. When he got home he called his five children together to determine which one should get this new toy. He asked, “Who’s the most obedient?” The children stared back at him in silence. Then he asked, “Who never talks back to mother?” Still silence. So then he queried, “Who does everything mom says?” With that the children looked at each other and then said, “Okay, Dad, you get the toy.” While the children may not have fully understood it, they articulated a sound principle - love is expressed through obedience. Their father didn’t do what mother asked to earn her love but to express his love. Likewise, THE DISCIPLES COULD LOVE JESUS BY OBEYING HIS COMMANDS. They didn’t need to obey to earn His love – He already loved them. Rather they could respond to His love by obeying Him.
But what are Jesus’ commands? After Jesus had washed their feet He said to the disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. (13:34-35) Once again, notice that love is not an emotion but a deep desire to order our lives on the example Jesus placed before us, that we should LOVE ONE ANOTHER. It means a life of service, of gladly, humbly washing feet and honoring others. It means a life of sacrifice, as Jesus pointed out (Jn. 15:13) “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Service and sacrifice – just the way Jesus loved and loves. “As I have loved you so you must love one another.” As Paul Metzger wrote, “A costly love leads, in turn, to a costly love. And that is why John and his fellow followers gave themselves sacrificially to win the world for Jesus, laying down their lives daily for him.” “By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” It’s this radical love that led non-believers, as written in the book of Acts, to look at the believers and Say “See how they love one another.”