A Life of Love
Remain in Jesus’ love and experience His joy. (9–11)
The love relationship between Jesus and the Father is a recurrent theme in John’s writings. It is a powerful image because John presents God as the definition and embodiment of all love (1 John 4:8). The Father, who is synonymous with love itself, pours His love on Jesus. Jesus, in the same way, pours His love on His followers.
This is God’s doing. The believer’s only response is to remain in His love. The word “remain” translates the image of being fully immersed in something. It means to be in the same place, at the same time, and in the same state of being. Think of how water and alcohol can become so thoroughly mixed that it is impossible to separate them. In short, fully live in and enjoy Christ’s love.
Jesus’s encouragement to keep His commands seems to imply that if one does not keep them, Jesus will no longer love that person. The story of the prodigal son and his father tells us otherwise (Luke 15). If we fail to keep Jesus’ command He will continue to love us, but we won’t be able to fully experience the love of Jesus.
Love calls for personal sacrifice. (12–14)
As the Father loves Jesus, Jesus loves His followers. As Jesus loves His followers, they are to love one another. A mathematician might note both transitive and reflexive properties of love. God’s love is transferred to Jesus who transfers it to His followers who, in turn, transfer it to others. His followers must also reflect that love back to Jesus, the Father and to all the Father loves.
This love is not the temporary, emotional, limited feelings that pass for love in contemporary culture. These verses contain the heart of the gospel: the love Jesus has for His people took Him to the cross to lay down His life in their place. When Jesus said these words He wasn’t thinking He would be willing to lay down His life if it was ever necessary. He knew He would be laying down His life less than 24 hours after saying the words.
While most Christ-followers in North America will probably not have to give up their lives for fellow believers, they must never forget that this is the depth of love to which Jesus calls them. Since giving up life is on the table, anything short of that should be an easy sacrifice for a sister or brother in Christ.
Produce spiritual fruit by loving others. (15–17)
The idea of sacrificing life usually brings up the image of a soldier, subordinate or slave. Jesus corrects that thinking and moves the idea to that of a friend. His followers don’t lay down their lives because they must, but because they love like Jesus loves.
There is a beautiful intimacy in the love Jesus shares with His friends and in the sacrifice He modeled for us. And for everyone who was ever picked last for a game of kickball or soccer, it is comforting and uplifting that Jesus chose you to be His friend.
Jesus told His followers to go and share His love with others who do not yet know the love of Jesus. The fruit of a Christ-follower is more Christ-followers who can then remain in Christ’s love and enjoy it fully.
While our love and sacrifice will never forgive someone’s sins, it can lead them to know the love and sacrifice or the one who can and will forgive.
By Daryl Watts
Watts is a church consultant in Fresno, California.