Whoever holds to my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me; and whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and reveal myself to him.’
“The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that’s who loves me. And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and make myself plain to him.”
-John 14:21 (NJHB, MSG)
The person who loves Christ, has grasped, has layed ahold of his commands firmly. That person’s mind holds onto Christ’s words, which are commands to be obeyed. The person who loves Christ hears him, takes hold of the commands his gives, and obeys them.
But this does not happen in a vacuum. It happens through God’s love for us first. It also is able to happen, because we are people who have the Holy Spirit. We take hold of something that deeply impacts us- God’s love in Christ, and become lovers ourselves. And we express that love through obeying God’s son.
The Father has always loved the Son. The Father loves those who love the Son. Those who love the Son, show that love by obeying what the Son has said. And what he says are commands.
Jesus is king. His words are life. His words are instructions for life. If we love him, we will follow him, by obeying his words. We will observe his commands.
God’s love is not conditional. God loves the disobedient and the ones to even listen, but do not hear or lay hold of his commands and put them into practice. God still loves those people. Many verses say this, in John (3:16, 13:34, 15:9, 12; 17:23), and places like Romans 5:8, that says, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.
When we obey Christ’s commands, we enter in to the reciprocal love between the Father and the Son. Conversely, when we do not obey; we close ourselves off from enjoying fellowship with God. Like Adam and Eve, we end up hiding and putting on fig leaves in God’s presence, because of the stain of sin and the shame of it.
God is unconditional, but we put the conditions on our own selves. Every believer is as close to God, or as much in God’s love, as they choose to be, through their own actions in their lives. God does not decide to be near to some believers and distant from others. We actually choose how close we will get.
Jesus says that those who enter in to the reciprocal love of the Father for him, through their obedience, will be loved by him in a revelational way, that is showing himself, manifesting himself, in our lives.
To paraphrase, Jesus is saying that if you take his words and run with them, getting it and doing it; that you will find yourself living in the extravagant love of the Father for the Son. Then, Jesus will show up in your life, in a special way.
His revealing himself to you is not specific, but it is sure. Your obedience takes you into a deeper experience of God’s love for the Son and then, Christ promises to reveal himself to you.
The context of Jesus saying that the one who loves him obeys his commands, and will enter in to the reciprocal love of his Father and be so loved by Jesus, that he will manifest himself to you; is, the whole of John 14, which is a discourse that Jesus spoke to the disciples at their last supper or communion time together.
The backdrop, is when Jesus washed their feet, and had the exchange where he told Peter that he would get it later, on what this was about. Then, he told them that one of them would betray him; and he dismissed Judas, into the night.
After Judas left, Jesus talked to the remaining eleven about how he is about to be glorified and God will be glorified in him. Then, he told the eleven that he would be gone from them soon.
Immediately, as if this was importantly linked to how much they are going to miss Jesus human presence with them, he tells them this new command, that they should love one another, as he has loved them. He said that as they do this, all people would know that they belong to him, are his disciples.
This command was wonderful and awe inspiring, but his leaving them was disturbing. So Peter, inquired further about it and bragged that he would go anywhere with Jesus, even to death. And that is when Jesus had to tell Peter that he was going to soon deny him three times, before dawn breaks tomorrow.
That must have broken Peter’s heart. They were all broken up about losing their master. This is where they are in John 14:1, when Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled”. Jesus said that, because their hearts were very troubled. Jesus is not saying, “just get over it”, and he does not say that to us when we are suffering a loss.
John 14:1-3 is not a sermon to comfort us at funerals, about heaven. The Father’s house is you and me. That is what Jesus explains in the whole chapter of John. Jesus was not talking about heaven. He was talking about the life of his disciples, on earth.
The only way you can live the life is to abide in Christ. And it is even better than that, because Jesus says that the way that it works, is for the Holy abides with us (14:16). We are his abodes, the dwelling places that Jesus mentioned in verse two. He, the Holy Spirit, will remain with us and be in us (14:17). They, and we, will not be orphans. Mysteriously, Jesus comes to be with us, through the Holy Spirit (14:18).
Jesus is saying, in the midst of this, “here is what I want to tell you, for you to know.” He then tells them that the life he has planned for them is a life of abiding in God – in him, with the help of the Holy Spirit. John 14:21:
Whoever holds to my commandments and keeps them: it is he who loves me. And whoever loves me shall be loved by my Father. And I will love him, and I will manifest myself to him.”
Do you notice the quotation marks, at the end of Jesus’ words, and wonder what the beginning of his statement was, or what he was responding to? He was responding to Philip, who spoke in verse 8, saying:
Philip said to him, “Lord, reveal the Father to us, and it is enough for us.”
Jesus answers Phillip:
Jesus said to him: “Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known me? Philip, whoever sees me, also sees the Father. How can you say, ‘Reveal the Father to us?’
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I am speaking to you, I do not speak from myself. But the Father abiding in me, he does these works.
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
Or else, believe because of these same works. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me shall also do the works that I do. And greater things than these shall he do, for I go to the Father.
And whatever you shall ask the Father in my name, that I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you shall ask anything of me in my name, that I will do.
If you love me, keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give another Advocate to you, so that he may abide with you for eternity:
the Spirit of Truth, whom the world is not able to accept, because it neither perceives him nor knows him. But you shall know him. For he will remain with you, and he will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans. I will return to you.
Yet a little while and the world will not see me any longer. But you will see me. For I live, and you shall live.
In that day, you shall know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
Whoever holds to my commandments and keeps them: it is he who loves me. And whoever loves me shall be loved by my Father. And I will love him, and I will manifest myself to him.” -John 14:9-21 (CPDV)
That gives us the context. The manifestation, revelation, that Jesus gives us is of the Father. He is answering Phil’s question, “show us the Father”.
The Christian life is a life of God being in us, with us, and beside us; empowering us to love and to obey what Jesus has said. God starts the relationship and we just have to say, “yes”, and enter in. We agree, we yield, we permit, and consent. Then we work it out and walk it ou and live it out. But God supplies the ability to do it.
Those that love Jesus obey him. They have entered in to the love of the Father for the Son. They have the Holy Spirit in their lives, who empowers them to live the life. He guides, he comforts, and most of all, he points to Jesus.
Baptism in water is a blessing. But what about the baptism of the Holy Spirit? John, the baptist said that Jesus would baptize his disciples with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8). John 14 is a chapter about the Trinity. We need to understand Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Only by experiencing God, can we live out the life. True understanding is when we get it and live it. And we can only get it, if we genuinely love, entering into the love of the Father for the Son, and allow the Spirit of God to dwell and abide in and with us.
The painting above is by Mark Lawrence, Peace I Leave With You (John 14:26), found here.
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