Loving Jesus – Living For Jesus – John 14:21-24

Loving Jesus—Living For Jesus

Nick Esch, 3/4/2018 Cornerstone Baptist Church

Context

Our text is a part of the Upper Room Discourse, where Jesus addresses His disciples the night before His crucifixion. Jesus has finished His public earthly ministry, they just had the last supper, Judas has left to betray Jesus, Jesus has just told His disciples that He is soon to leave this world, and over the last few weeks we’ve seen Him encouraging His disciples and seeking to equip them to live in this world after His death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. He has told them to not let their hearts be troubled; and He’s been encouraging, equipping, and telling His disciples how they will be empowered to live after He leaves; Jesus is explaining to His disciples how they can live for Him, and how they will still have Him with them even though He’s leaving them… He’s seeking to comfort them, encourage them, and empower them for a life of faithfulness. That’s what we began to look at last week, and that’s what will continue today.

Last week we saw that the Spirit causes people to be born again, to have eyes to see and ears to hear, and to come to know Jesus; but His work goes even beyond regeneration… Because the Spirit is with us and in us forever, He also does the work of sanctification in us, enabling us to love Jesus, and to live for Jesus until we are with Jesus forever… This is the great work of the Spirit… He is another Helper given by God to help us in our knowing, loving, and living for Christ… The Spirit helps us to keep the commands of Christ. The Spirit enables and empowers us to live for the glory of Christ… He’s the Spirit of truth who opens our eyes, our ears and our hearts to the truth, and enables us to embrace it and live in obedience to it… The Spirit helps us follow Christ… And He’s with us and in us through it all; granting us power and comfort… He is with us always, to the very end of the age… He is another Helper, like our great Helper, Jesus Christ. He works in us, transforming us more and more into the image of Christ until we are with Christ forever… Jesus said, “I go and prepare a place for you…” But the Spirit’s work is to prepare us for that place… He leads us into right communion with God here and now, and prepares us for eternal communion with God in the here after… And that catches us up to John 14:21…

John 14:21-24

In the first part of verse 21 Jesus says, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.” And notice in verse 23 He says almost the same thing. He says, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word.” And then in verse 24 He says, “Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.” Now Jesus has already said something along the same lines as all of this in verse 15. There Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Beloved, if Jesus says something once it’s important, if He says it twice it’s really important, if three times it’s of extreme importance, but four times… Beloved we dare not take something lightly that Jesus takes so seriously… Four times, in one way or another, Jesus says, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.”

As we’ve seen over the last few weeks, this means if we truly love Jesus, following Him will be the great goal and the great delight of our life. We don’t keep His commandments out of mere duty, but out of our delight in Him. And no matter how hard we try we don’t keep His commandments perfectly, but we delight in a perfect Savior who loves us, and that compels us to love Him, and that love drives us to live for Him… Church, we must not look at this passage in isolation; we have to remember all that we have learned in John’s Gospel thus far about the love of God. I mean in John 3:16 alone we’re told, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life…” God, the Creator of all who deserves our allegiance, who is infinitely holy and good in every way, loved a perishing world, as in sinners who deserve hell—sinners who are rebels against Him, sinners who by nature don’t love Him—and in His love He gave His Son, who came to this world and loved us by living the perfect life that we should have lived, and giving Himself for us by taking the wrath of God due us upon Himself and dying the death that we deserve to die for our sin… And after dying He rose from the grave in power so that all who turn from their sin and trust in Him would be saved and would be with Him forever in perfect joy… And as we saw last week, before we will even do that the Spirit has to do a work in us. God has to so work in us that He changes our hearts and gives us eyes to see how He’s loved us in the gospel… But He does… He causes people to be born again and to repent and believe in the gospel…

Notice what Jesus says in verse 21… He says, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me…” To have His commandments is more than just knowing them… But it is important that we know them. So remember, this isn’t just referring to the 10 Commandments or something… This is referring to the Law of Christ, to all the commands in all of Scripture that we are called to follow under the New Covenant… Notice Jesus says in verse 23, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word.” We are called to keep all of God’s Word that applies to us under the New Covenant; that’s the Law of Christ… And the New Testament, over and over again, summarizes this law in the word love… That we would love God and love people, that we would love Jesus and love people in the same manner as Jesus, who loved us and gave Himself for us… And God’s Word tells us, that when He causes us to be born again, He actually writes this law on our hearts. In Jeremiah 31:33 we’re told, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” This is what it means to have His commandments… We don’t just know them, we possess them; they are written on our hearts…

This all happens through the love of God in salvation… The Father chooses His people in love before the foundation of the world, the Son accomplishes this great work of love through His life, death, and resurrection, and the Holy Spirit applies this great work through regeneration and sanctification… Beloved this is an amazing love… A love we could not earn and do not deserve… And it’s this love that leads us to love… As John says elsewhere, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19)… The love of God so grips us that we can’t help but love Him… We become amazed by Him…. We desire Him above all else… Our hearts change… That’s really what loving Jesus looks like… To love Jesus is to believe in Him, to enjoy Him, to be satisfied in Him, to treasure Him above all else… And then that love—His love for us and our love for Him—compels us to keep His commands… Our hearts are so gripped by Him that we delight to follow Him and submit to Him…

In verse 24 Jesus says, “Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.” And why do you think that is? It’s because their love is focused elsewhere… Do you remember what God’s Word says in Romans 1:24-25 when it’s describing the Fall of Man? It says, “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!” Their hearts lusted after, or desired the creation rather than the Creator… They did not desire to worship or serve God because they did not desire God… Their hearts were fixed on stuff, on people, on themselves instead of on almighty God… This is the heart of sin… And this is the heart of everyone in their sin… The hearts of fallen men lead them astray…

God’s Word says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:9)? Our sinful hearts, along with the world, and the devil all tell us that Jesus is not enough… that sin, that self, that stuff is better… But our hearts, the world, and the devil are deceitful… They are not to be trusted… But God is… And God can come in and do a work in our heart and change everything… And that’s what He does when we become Christians… “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6)… That’s regeneration… That’s being born again… And in doing that God enables us to love Him… And that love leads us to want to keep His Word; to love and follow Jesus, to worship and serve Him…

But, it isn’t quite that simple… For even as redeemed sinners, even as Christians, we still have an ongoing love affair with sin… There is something in us that still wants to believe that lie that our hearts, the world, and the devil tell us… Our hearts are prone to wonder because we are still prone to believe that Jesus isn’t enough, that Jesus isn’t better… And friends, our actions will follow our hearts… What we delight in will lead to our doing… And so part of the fight of the Christian life is fighting to keep our eyes on Jesus, and to remember who He is and to grow in our knowledge of Him that we might love Him all the more…

You see, when our eyes are off of Jesus, that’s when we are prone to sin… That’s when we are prone to believe the lie… And so we need to constantly practice the disciplines of grace that keep our hearts tethered to Jesus. Disciplines like desperate prayer, reading, studying, and memorizing God’s Word, gathering with God’s people to sit under God’s Word preached, to sing God’s Word, read God’s Word, pray God’s Word, and partake in the Lord’s Supper… We need to saturate ourselves with the Word of God… But we also need to not just be hearers of the Word, but doers also… We need to be active in evangelism: sharing God’s Word with others, telling them the good news of Jesus… We need to be discipling others… We need to be active in loving others like Jesus through sacrificial service… All of these and more are just ways to turn our eyes and tether our hearts to Christ all the more… And all of these are really just what it looks like to be a faithful church member… Seeking by God’s grace to know Jesus, love Jesus, live for Jesus, and help others do the same… Seeking—fighting to be faithful… That’s what being a church member is all about… We must fight to be faithful, but we aren’t meant to fight alone… Together we seek to fight sin and pursue holiness… But together or scattered about, we need to understand that essentially the fight is a fight to love Jesus more than our sin… That’s how strongholds are broken: when our love for Jesus overwhelms our love for lesser things…

Beloved, I don’t know about you, but I want to love Jesus more… I need to love Jesus more… I am not content with the posture of my heart… I want to get to the end of my life, and stand before God and hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant…” Don’t you? Well, if we are to be faithful we must truly love Jesus… Only when we love Him will we keep His Word… And in order for us to keep His Word we must trust what His Word says… We must lean on the promises of God… For the Word of Jesus, and the entire Bible for that matter is the Word of God. Jesus tells His disciples in verse 24 that, “the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” What He’s laying out here is the Word of God… It’s the Word of God because He’s saying and doing all that that He says and does in submission to the Father; but also because He Himself is God. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the entire Bible is the Word of God and the entire Bible is the Word of Jesus because He is God… And the Word of God is to be trusted…

So when you find that you’re tempted to sin, when your heart is being pulled towards lesser things, or when you are caught up in anxiety or worry, anger or stress, bitterness or envy, pain and despair, or whatever it may be… lean on God’s Word… Trust in the Lord… Cry out to Him in desperate prayer pleading the promises of God to Him… Sometimes, even when our situation doesn’t change, we change as we boldly approach the throne of grace in prayer…

The other day I was in the pit of despair… I was struggling to trust God’s Word… I was doubting some of my convictions… Then I asked a brother in Christ if we could pray together… As he prayed for me and I prayed for him, something happened in me… Just the mere fact that I am able to cry out, “Abba! Father!” Just the mere fact that I have a Father in heaven that loves me and listens to me… It changed my heart in that moment… And this brother rebuked me a little bit and reminded me that the Word of God is completely trustworthy… Which I know, but I just needed to hear it in that moment… I needed to be in community—in fellowship with another believer in that moment who could remind me of the truthfulness of God’s Word… Nothing in my situation changed, yet I felt so much better after praying with this brother, with my friend… Why? Because God changed my heart… I changed… God stirred my heart to love and trust Jesus more… In that moment I was pulled out of the pit of despair, and I felt safe in God’s good providence… Beloved, in your moments of weakness, run to the Lord… And understand that you are far weaker than you think you are… But when we are leaning on the Lord, when we are weak, that’s when we are strong… Faithfulness is not about us being strong, it’s about relying on the Lord in His strength… When we give our lives to that, that’s what will lead to us hearing, “Well done my good and faithful servant…”

And that’s the direction Jesus goes next. Starting in the last part of John 14:21-23 Jesus says, “‘And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.’ Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.’” The more we know Him the more we will love Him, and the more we seek to know Him the more He will make Himself known to us… As James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” The more aware we are and the more open we are about our weakness and the Lord’s sufficiency and goodness, the more we will experience God… He will manifest Himself to His people who draw near to Him all the more… And as we behold Him, as we draw near to Him, as we come to know Him all the more, we will love Him all the more and live for Him all the more…

Now, Judas wasn’t understanding Jesus rightly here, because he was still of thinking of Jesus as merely a political or military Messiah… He didn’t understand how the Messiah, who was going to take charge of the world could only manifest Himself to His disciples… Surely the world would notice a conquering Messiah… But Jesus came first as a suffering Servant… He came to give His life as a ransom for many… And for those He ransoms He manifests Himself, He makes Himself known, He draws near to them… He lavishes His love on them and then they love Him and live for Him…

And notice what else Jesus says here; He says for those who love Him and live for Him that the Father will love them, and that He and the Father will come to them and make their home with them… Now we need to be careful here; this isn’t saying that we have to earn the Father’s love… And love here is not speaking of the love of God that leads to our salvation… The Father loved us before He even created us. God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. At the right time, Christ died for the ungodly… Christ loved us and gave Himself for us… All while we were at our worst… We could never earn that love, and we certainly didn’t deserve that love, and there’s absolutely no way we could repay God for that love… If God would have waited on us to do something to initiate His love, He would still be waiting… It would never happen… God is the Divine initiator… It is God’s love that leads to our salvation, but the love spoken of here in our passage is a love that is for those who are already saved… This is what the Puritans called the complacent love of God… This is the love God has for His children when they are obedient; it’s His delighting in the obedience of His children…

So take me with my children: my children did not earn the love and affection I have for them… They did not initiate it, I did… I loved them when they could contribute absolutely nothing… But as they have grown and learned, when I see them doing the right thing it brings happiness to my heart, and stirs my affection for them… When they disobey I still love them, but that sense of complacent love, where I delight in how they show their love for me—especially in their obedience—that love isn’t there in that moment… So even though I am still for them, and I still love them, in that moment I am not pleased with their actions… But when they are living in glad-submission to my leadership out of their love for me, I am overjoyed with them, I love them greatly… And this is the type of love that Jesus is speaking of here…

The moment we become a Christian we are covered in the righteousness of Christ; that’s why there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ… So in that sense, God looks at us and sees His child in Him He is well pleased, because He looks at us and sees Jesus in whom He is well pleased… But, obedience still matters… Living for Jesus matters… Keeping His Word matters… And when we do these things God especially delights in us… God takes joy in our obedience, and so do we, if we are obedient because of our love for Jesus… Love for Jesus leads to obedience to Jesus, and obedience leads to joy… And God in His kindness, in His love, pours out an extra measure of love and joy upon us when we rightly live for the glory of Christ… The love Jesus is speaking of here is the delight that a Father takes in an obedient child… And that delight pours over onto us… We feel that love… When we’re embraced by it we are encouraged, energized, and equipped all the more to live for Jesus… It’s a like a father looking at his and son and saying, “Great job, I’m so proud of you, keep up the good work…” This is the love that will ultimately be seen on the last Day when—if we are faithful—we will hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant…”

Already now, God has made His home in the people of God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; but a day is coming when God will permanently make His home with His people… Jesus will return, He will make all things new, and the dwelling place of God will be with man… When that day comes, I want to be found faithful, don’t you? I rejoice that by God’s grace I am loved in Christ, and that I know Jesus, and that I love Jesus, and that I am enabled by all of that, and by the Spirit of God Himself to live for Jesus… But I want to do all of those even more… I want to know Jesus more, I want to love Jesus more, I want to live for Jesus more, I want to experience the love of God more… And here Jesus is saying, if you do then love Him and keep His Word… Pour your life out for His sake and the Father will delight in you…

Conclusion

Beloved, if we love Jesus, then following Him will be the great goal and the great delight of our lives… And this is the very purpose of our lives… Our lives are to be all about Jesus. All things were created through Him and for Him, including us. So until we live for Him something will always seem off, because something is off… But when we love Him and live for Him we will find satisfaction, because He is why we exist… And God in His kindness gives us His Spirit to indwell us, to enable us, to empower us, to equip us, and to encourage us to love and live for Jesus this way, the way we were create to… And in His grace, He even pours out more love onto us as we live in obedience to Him; and our obedience and His love lead to great joy… So if all of this is true, if this is truly the Word of God as Jesus says it is, then the only thing that makes sense is to give our lives to knowing Jesus, loving Jesus, living for Jesus, and helping others do the same… This has to be our mission in life… This is how we love Jesus and keep His Word… So, the question is, do we believe this or not? Do we love Jesus or not? Are we going to give our lives to this—to Jesus, or not? Friends, this is the only option that makes sense; this is what we need… And this is what the world around us needs as well… So let’s give ourselves to living for Jesus, and striving to one day hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant…”