Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on January 29, 2017
Open your Bibles to John 14:15-31. This will be our second week in this section of God’s Word; therefore, let us begin by doing a short review from last week. Last week we saw Jesus make an astounding claim in verse 12. That those who believe in Jesus, will do greater works then Jesus. And we saw that the catalyst to these greater works was the cross. The cross was the dynamite that blew up the dam holding back God’s grace. Because of the cross, we now have a faithful high priest that intercedes for us. Those who have faith in Christ, now have access to God, so that we can ask in the name of Jesus (which means in accordance to his will), and Jesus promises to do it.
Likewise, because of the cross, not only do we have Jesus interceding for us in Heaven, but God is sending Heaven to live inside of us. What do I mean by that? I mean the Holy Spirit. The Helper that Jesus speaks about in verse 16 and then again in verse 26. Jesus pulls back the curtain and unveils the third person of the Trinity, who he speaks of as being identical to himself, and identical to the Father who will come and take up residence in the heart of those who believe in Jesus.
Therefore, because of the cross, the will of Christ and the Spirit of Christ exploded upon the earth. No longer was the power of Christ confined to one Galilean Carpenter from 2000 years ago. It has now been multiplied to millions and millions and millions of people throughout two millennia and throughout the world. So yes, there has been greater works. The proof of Christ Words have once again come true, and perhaps greater works are yet to come.
With that review under our belts, let us now get a little bit deeper into the forest of God’s Word and examine some of the individual trees of what Jesus is teaching. Let us read the text, pray that the Holy Spirit would lead us into truth, and then see what God has for us this morning.
How do we do this? For those who participated in the Mining God’s Word study that was aimed at being better Bible students we were given some tips as to what you can look for. William Hendricks in his book titled, “Living by the Book” provided 6 ways to make observations while reading a portion of Scripture: 1) Is there something being emphasized, 2) is their repetition, 3) are their relationships between thoughts, 4) are their similarities being drawn, 5) are their contrasts being drawn, and 6) is what you are reading true to life today.
When we do that in our text today we find something that jumps out at us, as it relates to repetition. What does Jesus keep saying over and over again? “If you love me.” He first says it in verse 15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Then again in verse 21, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.” Then in verse 23, “Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word.” Verse 24, “Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.” Then in verse 28, “If you loved me, you would have rejoiced.”
What seems to be on the mind of Jesus throughout our text this morning is love for him. In fact, love is a common theme throughout the Upper Room discourse. In John 13:1, at the beginning of the discourse it states “Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” Then in John 13:34 Jesus says. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” And now in our text this morning, he speaks of the love his disciples are to have towards him.
What is Love for Jesus?
The love of Jesus is fundamental to being a true Christian. In fact, our love for Jesus must be the greatest of all loves. Jesus says this himself in Matthew 10:37, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
So what does it mean to love Jesus? Some of you will say, look at our text. Doesn't it say, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”? Therefore isn't Jesus telling us that love is obedience? To that I would answer no, love is not obedience. You can actually see that in our text. Out text tells us that love produces, or causes obedience. Love is deeper than obedience. Love is not the outside of the cup, it is within the cup. Love is something that is of the heart. And for many of us, this makes sense, for the common symbol of love is the heart.
But what are we saying when we say that love is a matter of the heart? I think the answer is found in Matthew 6:21. Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” To love something is to treasure it, to value it, to see it as precious. Is this not how we see our children or our parents? So to love Jesus more than father or mother or more than son or daughter is to see Christ are more precious.
Just quickly, two passages that nail this down. First, Matthew 13:44, Jesus tells us “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” What the man found, was more valuable than everything he previously had. This treasure is Christ. This is exactly what the disciples had done. They had found Jesus and therefore left everything to follow him.
Second, Philippians 3:8. These are the words of the Apostle Paul. He was the most religious person on the planet. Calling himself a Pharisee of Pharisee, yet this is what he said about his hallow religion after he encountered Jesus. Verse 8, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Jesus was Paul's greatest treasure. Jesus was Paul's greatest love.
Source of this Love
But where does this love come from? Is it something we just stumble upon like dumb luck? Is it something we conjure within ourselves? Is it like an arranged marriage whereby we love Jesus because our parents loved Jesus and their parents before them loved Jesus?
No, we love Jesus because God first loved us. This is what the Apostle John tells us in 1 John 4. Just briefly turn with me to 1 John. 1 John is written by the same author as the Gospel of John, and you can see a lot of parallels between the two books. 1 John 4:13, “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19We love because he first loved us.”
Do you notice how similar 1 John 4 is with John 14? “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” What has Jesus been talking about in John 14? The indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Helper. 1 John 4 is saying that if you love, it is only because God has taken up residence in your heart. The source of love is the love of God. It is not something we stumble upon, it is not something we conjure up, it is not something we pick up from our parents. It is solely on the basis that God first loved us and now dwells in us. This is the source of love for Christ.
And this makes sense in accordance to what we have learned so far in the Gospel of John. John 1:13, describes Christians as a people “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” And then John 3:7, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” The wind (i.e. the Spirit) is Sovereign in whose life it blows into. Lastly, John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” Each of these text saying the same thing as 1 John 4. We love because God first loved us.
The Fruit of Love is Obedience
All of what we just talked about is foundational to what Jesus is saying in John 14. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” This statement is a conditional statement. If “A” then “B.” In computer programming it is called a boolean condition. It is a true/false statement. If the user clicks on the link, then go to website. It is based on simple logic.
Jesus is making a true/false statement. If you love him, you will obey him. Likewise in verse 24, “Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.” Love of Jesus is the cause of obedience. The absence of love for Jesus causes disobedience. Love of Jesus is the catalyst for obeying his Word. You cannot have one without the other.
And why can Jesus say this so confidently? Because of what we unpacked earlier. Jesus knows that disciples are born by the will of God, through the Spirit of God, and will have the indwelling of God. Jesus knows that the sheep that are his will hear his voice and follow. Why? Because of the Spirit of God. Which by the way, as we said last week in a Trinitarian sense is the Spirit of Christ. The same Spirit that Christ has now dwells in us, and if you notice, what does Jesus say in verse 31, “but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.”
Jesus loves the father, therefore he obeys the father. Now through faith in Christ the Spirit of Christ lives in us and He will have the same effect in us. Love for Jesus causes us to do as Jesus has commanded us.
And if you think about it, love is the most powerful force in ones life. If you love someone, you will do almost anything for them, will you not? I love my wife, and my children, therefore if a grenade is thrown into my home I will throw myself upon it. Love compels us to live sacrificially towards our beloved. And let us not forget, who is in the room as Jesus reveals this truth. The disciples. Tradition tells us that 10 out of 11 of them are martyred due to their devotion to obeying Christ. And the tradition claims that they attempted to kill John, but they couldn't get it done, so they exiled him to the island of Patmos. Why were they so committed to obey Christ even if it meant death or exile? They loved Jesus.
Or how about Paul? In 2 Corinthians 4 Paul describes his life as afflicted in every way, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, and being given over to death. Why? Paul says that it is all for Jesus sake. We know that Paul was imprisoned, whipped, stoned, shipwrecked, abandoned, and traditional tells us that his head was eventually cut off? Why? In 2 Corinthians 5:14, Paul says, “For the love of Christ controls us.”
I believe I have used this quote in the past, but I think it is so fascinating. It is a quote by Napoleon Bonaparte who was the Emperor of France in the early 1800s. He said, “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for him.”
The World Does Not Receive Him
This is what the world will never understand. What makes a Christian tick is our love for Jesus. This is why we do what we do. This is why we saturate ourselves in God's Word. This is why we pray without ceasing. This is why we come to Church. This is why we share the Gospel. This is why we make disciples. This is why we go on mission trips. This is why we give an offering. This is why we love the unborn. This is why we pray for our enemies. This is why husbands lay down their lives for their wives and why wives submit to their husbands. The fundamental reason behind it all is our love for Jesus.
As the world looks on, they don't get it. It is foolishness to them. They ask, why do you waste you Sundays? Why do you give you money away? Why do you risk your reputation and maybe even your life? Why don't we join the so called evolution of humanism and cast away the shackles of Christianity? Our answer is, “We love Jesus! That's why!”
Jesus speaks to this in verse 16 and 17, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.” The world is oblivious to the Spirit. The world is oblivious to the truth. The world is blind to who Jesus is and his preeminent worth above all things.
So we should not be surprised by their rejection of us, rejection of God's Word, and rejection of Christ. The world neither sees the Spirit of Truth, nor knows the Spirit of truth. They will malign you, call you a bigot, claim that your actions and your speech are full of hate, and will view you as ignorant. They cannot help themselves, this is the nature of the World. Until, if ever, they fall in love with Christ, they will stand in direct opposition. In just a few moments from now, Jesus will say in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Peace does not come from our circumstances, it comes from knowing that Jesus is the Lion of Judah.
Do You Love Me ?
So the question that we must end with today is “Do you love Jesus?” This is the ultimate question above all questions. The ultimate question is not do you go to Church. It is not do you consider yourself religious. It is not are you a good person. The only question that matters is, “Do you love Jesus?” Some of you will say, absolutely. Others of you may say, how do I know? As Jesus says, “You will know a tree by its fruit.” This book is full of the words of Jesus? Do you delight in reading it and is it the beat of your heart to conform your life to its commands? If yes, then let not your heart be troubled, for Christ has prepared a place for you and has sent the Helper to produce fruit in your life.
If the answer is no, there is only one solution. Repent and believe in Jesus Christ your Lord. It is not any more complicated than that. There is not a 12 step program, or a magic prayer. The greatest missionary ever to exist, the Apostle Paul says it best in Acts 17:30, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”