During the years that Jesus walked this earth with his disciples, they had seen him speak words of condemnation and warning. Calling the teachers of the Law and Pharisees “whitewashed tombs” comes to mind. Yet, in those last days prior to the crucifixion, Jesus wants his disciples to know only comfort and peace.
His tone is soft, as I’m sure his heart was heavy at the pending sacrifice he would make. The first eight verses of the fifteenth chapter of John were an encouragement for his followers to just hang onto him. Abide in me. Remain in me. If they did that, he would definitely remain in them.
Now, listen to these next few words, that remind them of what it’s all about:
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.*
He’s done it — Jesus has loved these followers, investing three years in their lives, pouring into them day and night, modeling what it means to live for God in a broken world. He has loved them, because God first loved.
What did they need to do? He used that favorite word again, remain. They just had to rest in that love — remembering all he’d spoken to them, shown them, and ultimately done on their behalf. Knowing that they were loved by Christ, they would be empowered to live according to his teaching, his example, and love others.
He had obeyed the Father’s commands, now they would obey his — why? Because they knew the love behind all that had been shared.
It makes me think of when my father used to tell me, “I’m telling you this for your own good. Don’t disobey.” He was right. Because he loved me, he would tell me, for instance, not to touch the hot stove. My obedience was for my own good, because he loved me enough not to want to see me hurt.
It’s the same with God. This is love for God; to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome…*
Why is Jesus telling this to us and his disciples? So that we will have his joy in us and it will be enough — complete.
When something is complete, is any more needed? No. His joy satisfies all longing.
- In Christ, we are fully loved.
- In Christ, we have all we need to obey God.
- In Christ, we are made clean.
- In Christ, we have complete joy.
- In Christ, we bear fruit that reveals our relationship to God.
- In Christ, the fruit we bear is to God’s glory.
What more could there be? Oh, the joy of it all in Christ.
Grace and Peace
*John 15:9-12 (NIV).
*1 John 5:3 (NIV).