If You Love Jesus

True or false? The Christian life is filled with unexpected surprises. Sometimes you are surprised by things you could not know or plan for in advance. Who can prepare for a doctor to say you have cancer? Who can know when a supervisor may say you’re fired?

Other times you are surprised because you failed to pay attention beforehand. You might be surprised when the dentist says you have a cavity (or an “occlusal” as they say when you are in the chair). But you shouldn’t be, because you had plenty of warnings to brush and floss your teeth. You didn’t do it though, because you thought your teeth were special.

In John 14, you find the disciples of Jesus going through an emotional and mental struggle. They had been hit by a big surprise. For more than three years, they had followed Jesus with the hope that he would become king of Israel and ruler of the world. They intended to be high-ranking officials in his government. But when he announced to the large crowds at Passover that he was going to reject their offer to make him king and was going to die instead, the disciples were devastated.

This should not have been a surprise because Jesus had told them about this before. But like we also can do, they had different plans and failed to hear him.

Nevertheless, Jesus attempted to calm their troubled hearts. He told them that he was indeed the only way to God. He was the right person to believe on. He told them that by going away from them through death, he was providing them with the way to God. This would give them something better than they hoped for, a place in God’s forever kingdom that would never go away. What’s more, he reminded them that he was not just the way to God, but he was God. They had nothing to fear.

Then he told them more. He told them that he was going to give them an opportunity to do things for God on a greater scale than he had been able to do. They would be able to take the truth about Jesus to the world with greater power and clarity and with a better response than ever before. And when they did this, they would know that whatever they needed from God to do this, he would answer their prayers and give it to them.

The truth about Jesus makes true love possible.

But still, Jesus had to die. He had to go away before all this could happen. And by going away, Jesus would not only provide a place for his disciples to be with God forever. He would also test whether they truly believed on him, whether they truly loved him or not, because the truth about Jesus makes true love possible.

I. Love perseveres when setbacks come our way. (John 14:15)

Why do setbacks happen? Why does God let trials happen in your life? Whether a setback is an unplanned experience or a problem you face because you weren’t listening to God, it always helps to reveal something important about the condition of your heart. It shows whether you love Jesus or not. It helps to show whether you believe on him or not.

Here Jesus brings love into the discussion. He says, “If you love me.” Perhaps you remember how he told them that one evidence of their faith in him would be that they would love one another (John 13:34-35). Now he is bringing up the subject of love again, but he is not focusing on loving one another. This time he is focusing on them loving him.

What is love? The word that Jesus is using here is a Greek word that means something like this: “to have such a high regard for someone that the words they speak move you to action.” To understand what this means, you must understand that love is more than a feeling. In fact, you can love Jesus regardless of how you feel.

You love Jesus when you pay attention to his words and you make choices and do things in your life because of what he said. You do this because he is that important to you, because you value him that highly.

In life you hear many voices calling for your attention. If you did what every voice tells you, you would be pulled in a million directions. But every day you make a million choices, big and small. These choices you make do not show what you hear. Nor do they show what you like. They show what you love. Jesus taught this in another way (Matt 6:24).

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.

This is the nature of love. It is listening to the voices that you hear and choosing which one you value so highly that you will do what it says and say no to the others.

Notice that Jesus says “if.” Throughout this chapter, he has been teaching the disciples things that they could count on. Jesus is the way to God. He is going to make it possible for them to have a place in God’s forever kingdom. He is God. He is going to give them an opportunity to do significant things. He is going to give what they need when they ask.

Jesus provides certainty, but we don’t always do the same. Not everyone who claims to believe on Jesus will follow through and love him to the end. Not everyone who claims to follow him will keep on loving him when setbacks happen.

II. Love keeps on following what Jesus taught us. (John 14:15)

Remember the way we described this love? It means “to have such a high regard for someone that the words they speak move you to action.” We can describe this love even better by looking at what Jesus said. He said, “Keep my commandments.”

When Jesus said, “Keep my commandments,” he spoke in the future tense. A good way to translate this would be, “You will keep my commandments.” The idea is that it would become clear which of the disciples loved Jesus by how they would respond to their setback in the future.

These men had already made some difficult choices to follow Jesus. But he told them that the test of their love was still in the future. After he died, rose again, and returned to heaven, leaving them behind, what would they do? Would they go back to their old ways? Would they stop following Jesus?

This happens to a lot of people who say that they believe on Jesus. Sometimes people pray a prayer and begin to take steps in the right direction. They read their Bible, go to church, and make some changes in life. Sometimes we call this “turning over a new leaf.” Then a setback happens and causes their heart to be troubled. What will they do? If you follow the life of a true believer, you will find that on the other side of the setback, they are still following Jesus.

Pretend that a friend of yours is running a marathon. It is a circular race that begins and ends at the same place. When the race begins, you stand at the starting line and see him run down the road and out of sight. Will he finish? You wait for two hours, then three, then four. Runners are crossing the finish line, but your friend is nowhere to be seen.

This is the test of a true believer. As you probably know, the disciples of Jesus had some bad moments in their future. They would deny the Lord and return to their old ways for a small period. But they returned to follow Jesus more ardently than ever before, except for Judas. He walked away from Jesus and never returned. Paul said the same thing about another man named Demas who withdrew from serving God because he loved “this present world” (2 Tim 4:10). The test of a true believer is not whether he starts the race, it is whether he finishes. It is whether they push through the setbacks and come out on the other side still loving Jesus.

Jesus said, “If you love me, then you will keep my commandments.” What commandments is Jesus talking about? He is not talking about the Old Testament laws that Moses gave to Israel. That is what God told the nation of Israel to do. Instead, he calls you to follow the teachings of Jesus, which he gives to you in the New Testament. (The OT is still a valuable source of truth from God, but not as a law [2 Tim 3:16-17].)

To follow this teaching of Jesus, you need to know what he said and do what he said. It is your responsibility and mine to teach this to every new believer after he or she is baptized (Matt 28:20). This is not a matter of formulating a list of his commandments and keeping them, like the “10 Commandments of Jesus” or something like that. Instead, it is a matter of understanding what he said and living that way.

How does this happen? It happens by reading and studying the teaching of Jesus for yourself as you also listen to pastors and teachers explain it. Then you put his teaching into your heart and mind by memorizing and meditating on what he said. You also read the whole Bible that way, even the Old Testament, reading and studying based upon what Jesus said. Then you depend upon the Holy Spirit who lives within you to live the way that Jesus taught you to live.

In a letter he wrote later, John explained that living out this love for God not only continues to do what Jesus taught us, but it does so without feelings of duty or burden (1 John 5:3).

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

This is the way that Jesus describes the person who believes on him, the person who truly loves him. So, here is the question you need to ask yourself. Do you have such a high regard for Jesus that the words he spoke move you to action, even when setbacks occur? And when you live out his words, does it come from your heart in a way that is not a burden and a chore?

Why should you love Jesus this way? I will give you two reasons. First, God loved you so much that he gave himself to die on the cross for your sin, so that the only thing you need to do is believe on Jesus Christ for salvation, and you will be saved (John 3:16). Second, Jesus provides you with unconditional, unwavering love. John told us in 13:1 that he loved his disciples unto the end. Therefore, you should love him in return.

What setbacks have you faced or are you experiencing in your Christian life? Have you fallen back from loving Jesus? Has your heart become troubled? Be like the first disciples and get back on the road of living out the words of Jesus daily. Be like the first disciples who learned what it meant to do greater works for God by spreading the truth about Jesus to the people in the world around them.

No matter what difficulties or challenges your face, the time is now for you to learn to value Jesus so highly that you know what he says in the Bible and you choose to build your life on those words and make your choices based on those words, not on the words of all the other voices in the world around you.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply