Summary: Jesus comforts his disciples with the guarantee of fruit that proves his love for them.
We’re in our study of John, and we’re reading what Jesus said to his disciples on the night before his crucifixion. He’s about to leave the earth, but they won’t be left alone; the Holy Spirit will comfort them, and they’ll discover God’s kingdom is on earth when they obey his commands and bear spiritual fruit. The world, however, will not bear this fruit, and they’ll be gathered together and thrown into the fire. This, of course, glorifies God, and proves his power and dominion over all creation.
Now we come to verses nine and ten, and they’re taken out of context as often as verse seven. We studied that verse last week and saw that “ask what you will” isn’t a blank check to get whatever we want; it’s about bearing spiritual fruit to the glory of God, and here in the next verses we need to keep the same thing in mind:
9As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
The confusion comes when we read this as a command that we’re left to obey. Essentially it looks like he’s saying “If you want to stay in my love, then you’d better follow my commands.” And people read that verse and take it out of it’s context and use it with fear and guilt to make people pray more or come to church or do whatever they think it means to obey. Well, people who want to be loved by God and go to heaven when they die don’t always see these kinds of verses in their proper context, so they respond in fear and try with all their might, and suffer from guilt all their lives when they never quite measure up.
But look carefully at the verse and remember the verses around it, and you’ll see something far better than that legalism: “As the Father has love me, so have I loved you.” What does that mean? You probably know the root Greek word: ἀγαπάω (agapao), and it means to show affection or to be contented or pleased. He’s saying, “The way the Father is pleased with me is the same way I’m pleased with you.”
Well, the Father couldn’t possibly be any more pleased with the Son, and the Son can’t possibly be any more pleased with us. And don’t forget that while we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:8). Jesus uses the illustration of a woman hunting for a coin to describe his work in redeeming the saints, “And when she found it, she calls her friends and her neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents” (Lk. 15:9-10).
He knows that the healthy need no doctor, so he came to seek and save the sick and the lost (Mk. 2:17). Those who think they’re righteous, and those who think they can please God by their righteousness are the ones condemned and rebuked in the Scripture (Rom. 10:3), but “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9).