In yesterday’s worship, we returned to the 14th chapter of John as Jesus continues his farewell message to the disciples. Once again, we join the others around the Last Supper. At the table, Jesus does some of his most significant teaching. Here, at the table, we gather to receive a very extensive instruction about obedience. Jesus is preparing to leave, obediently moving toward the cross, the kind of death which displays his supreme act of love. And just before he dies, he speaks to us about our own obedience. He orders us to love!
Say what?! Orders us to love? What if I don’t feel like it? What if I think it’s a bad idea? Yet, Jesus commands us to love. Love, in the hands of Jesus, is not a feeling. It’s not just an idea. It’s something we are supposed to do, no ifs, ands, or buts. If we love Jesus, we will be obedient to his peculiar way with the world. Here’s the bonus…if we are obedient to Jesus, our love for him will deepen. And, our love for others will come easier. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” Jesus declares. He links love with obedience.
One surprise that most of us discover in marriage, or in any deep relationship, is that the more we work at keeping our promises, the less we have to consciously keep those promises. Fidelity just becomes part of us. We become a faithful person through our faithfulness. Thus, Jesus speaks about the commitment to love. If we dare to keep his commandments, and if we dare to stay obedient to Jesus, then we will grow in love with him. Because we keep his commandments, we will love him. So simple, and yet so challenging. That’s why Jesus gives us the Spirit, it says in John 14. To prompt us, to push us, to remind us…it’s always a good time to love others.