John 15:9-14. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
Let’s stay in the vineyard with Jesus for one more day. Christ continues to show his disciples the glorious truths of union with him. He is the vine. We are the branches. He produces fruit by his life. We bear his fruit by our lives.
Imagine moving into a brand new house. A house without any problems or issues. All updated appliances and features. Open concept. Huge walk in closets. An island in the kitchen. Maybe even a pool. And imagine that the house is completely paid for. Like one of those Home Makeover TV shows. That is what Jesus is inviting us to move into – his love. Abide in my love. Dwell in my love. Move into my love house. Jesus’ love declaration is so profound that most of us struggle to truly believe it – As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Just how perfect is the Father’s love for Jesus? How full? How complete? How satisfying? How empowering? That’s the same love we live in with Jesus. The extravagant love of the Father for the Son is now his extravagant love for us. Who does the Father love more, Jesus or you? The only correct answer is that he loves you both equally. And that truth should melt away all our fear, all our hate, all our self-protection, and ultimately all our sin.
But then comes verse 10 and it all gets confusing again. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love. IF you keep? Since none of us adequately keeps Jesus’ commands, is any of us actually living in Jesus’ love? Do we only get to live in Jesus’ love house when we are obeying him?
But here’s where we must grasp what Jesus means when he says keep my commandments. An understanding of John’s gospel reveals to us that Jesus presented his disciples with two commands – 1) believe in me, and 2) love one another. Here’s how John summarized it in his first epistle:
1 John 3:23-24. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
So what we might read as law keeping (keep my commandments), Jesus meant as faith (believe in the name of Jesus). Passive faith – trust in Jesus. And active faith – love one another. These two go hand in hand don’t they? Trusting in Jesus’ love for us, his salvation by his work on the cross, moves us into his love house. And then living (abiding) in his love house will organically produce in us a love for one another. This is exactly how Jesus lived his life on earth as THE image bearer. He trusted the Father’s love for him, and then he loved others. Even to the point of laying down his life for his friends.
And that is what life is all about isn’t it? Sacrificial love. This is why we were created. This is what it means to image God as a Trinity. This is the Great Commandment (day 146) obeyed – love God and love neighbor. This is the Good Samaritan lived out – enemies turned into friends (day 138). This is the fruit of the Vine, and the fruit of the Spirit. Self-sacrificing love and the fullness of joy that comes with it. Joy from knowing that you are so loved, so cared for, so respected, so accepted, that all concern for your own agenda, every selfish ambition, all control and all conceit are swept up into the flood of Jesus’ life in you.
“To live is Christ” means there is no greater joy than to be loved and to love. To be elevated so high by the love of the Father, that it frees you to lower yourself for the sake of others. And thus live as the friends of Christ.
Are you experiencing joy in your life? Why or why not?
You in Christ
How might knowing that you live in Jesus’ love house bring you fullness of joy?
Christ in you
Is there someone that you could reach out to in love today?
Playlist: Songs for fullness of joy.