What it means to love Jesus

“If you love me….” (John 14:15)

We do love the Lord, right?  We would love to express our love to Him in His own love-language, right?

We love Him because He first loved us, right? (That’s I John 4:19).

The question then is “How exactly do we express our love to Him?”  With flowers and candy?  With huge gifts?  Quick prayers before bedtime?  Maybe if I’m baptized and join the right church?  Should I tithe?  Should I read the Bible through? Go to Sunday School?

What does He want?  What would make Jesus feel loved?

The Old Testament answer to the question…

The prophet Micah was wrestling with this very question when he asked, “With what shall I come before the Lord?  And bow myself before the High God?”

That is to say, “What possible thing could I do on earth that would please God in Heaven?”

How can pitiful earthlings ever possibly do anything that would please the Creator and Lord of the universe, He who owns it all in the first place?

Micah considers some possibilities:  “Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings? Perhaps with calves a year old?  Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or ten thousand rivers of oil?”

Or, if you want to get pagan about it, “Shall I give my firstborn for my transgressions? The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

Child sacrifice was considered by God the most abominable of all sins.  Scripture refers to this as a sacrifice to the god Molech, and when Israelites do it Heaven itself is horrified.  God says, “…which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into my mind” (Jeremiah 19:5).  The very idea!

Then, Micah  answered his own question:  “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of  you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:6-8)

Nothing wrong with that.  It’s a great statement, as attested by the large number of t-shirts that statement adorns even now.

How Jesus answered the question…

After all, He ought to know what it means to love Him.  As Gary Chapman has pointed out in his “5 Love Languages” books, a person’s love language should not be imposed on them by another, but simply listen to what they tell you.  You are the authority on your love language.

And so Jesus answered the question.  Five times, in fact.  And each time He said a variation of the same thing.

One:  If you love Me, keep my commandments.  (John 14:15).

Two. He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me.  (John 14:21)

Three.  If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word…. (John 14:23)

Four.  He who does not love Me does not keep My words.  (John 14:24)

Five.  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love.  (John 15:10).

And one similar to all of these, “You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14).

Anyone see a trend here?

Three points to clarify and emphasize…

  1.  The Lord will accept tears of love, humility, gratitude, and devotion, as we see in Luke 7 and John 12.  Nothing wrong with that.  But when we stand up again, He expects us to walk differently, to be devoted to obeying Him.    And the point of this is to end forever this weak, limp expression of love that says, “I know I’m not living for the Lord, but He knows I love Him.”  No, He does not.  In fact, He says you do not love Him if you are not obeying Him.  Period.  It’s as simple as that.
  2. When Jesus said we are to “keep my commandments” He does not mean the Ten Commandments.  (I’m always amazed to find people believing that’s what Jesus had in mind.)  He is talking about the full body of His teachings,  “all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20).  By the way, nowhere does Scripture call those ten commandments of Exodus 20 “The Ten Commandments.”  They’re called “words.”
  3. Obedience is the name of the game.  Here’s what the Apostle Paul had to say about it: “For this purpose I wrote to you, that I might know the proof of you, whether you are obedient in all things” (2 Corinthians 2:9).   As our Lord said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not the things which I have commanded you?” (Luke 6:46).  Over and over in the gospels, we read where Jesus says things like, “He who hears my words and does them….” (See Matthew 7:21-27 for starters.)

The feelings of love are good and we enjoy them.  But they are not very dependable indicators of anything.  They can be set off by many a false impulse.

What most of us have discovered over the years is that when we obey the Lord, the feelings follow.

But whether the feelings are there or not, He expects and desires our obedience.

Sort of like the way we go to work or to school on a Monday morning, right?



6 thoughts on “What it means to love Jesus

  1. As one who has heard many a lesson along this subject, I’ve wrestled with the idea that our relationship is a “performance” based relationship. Scripture as ” if you love ME keep my commandments” almost always was presented that it was a formula rather than what I believe it’s true intent, an examination. Scripture paints beautiful picture of Christ as bride groom, we the bride. Any who’ve ever enjoyed that special bond of loving someone and knowing it reciprocated by another, knows it then your primary mission in life to express that love on daily basis. Give that person the security of KNOWING, ” nothing can separate me from that love ” ( few hundred msgs in this). My relationship not predicated on going from day to day struggling to keep the BIG 10 or I’ve jeopardized the whole pkg. The correlation between man/woman and Christ/Us too numerous to count. I think of Song of Solomon and most if not entire book s love song of expressions from hearts between 2 in love. So many more examples if you seek. However, this ” follow these rules” and you’ll be safe just caused me much conflict when I’m also told, I’m a sinner, saved yet never the less in need of daily repentance, and IF my actions are merely actions then what kind of relationship is that. IF I say the right words, keep the vows, solely to point and say she/he mine without he/she drawing from security of knowing that’s expression of TRUE feelings as opposed to they’re keeping vows but it not from choice of heart but a phony practice, wherein lies the security we espouse. It almost sounds “mechanical”. Am I missing something or on right track?

    • Steve, I fear–from reading your comment–that I may have left the impression that one’s salvation is conditional on keeping all the rules. Man, I sure didn’t intend that! — Our salvation is one thing, and serving Him daily grows out of that. Obedience is the proof, as Paul says, but it’s not the means.

  2. I somehow like the thought/statement in your reply to Steve. “Our salvation is one thing, and serving Him (God) daily grows out of that. Obedience is the proof as Paul says, but it’s not the means. To me that is foundational and very settling.
    Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us salvation is a gift and does not depend on anything we do except exercising our faith in Jesus Christ – who He is and what He has done for us. I am also reminded in Matthew chapters 5-7 that Jesus, in His sermon, having laid the foundation in the summary statements of the Beatitudes, continues to show the superiority of His message to that of the Law of Moses. He summarises that sermon on the mount by comparing and contrasting those who both heard and kept HIs sayings (which evidently goes far beyond the 10 commandments in Exodus 20) and those who heard but did differently. The Pharisees of the day were caught up in mere observance of the law but had no relationship with the God, because they did not believe in Jesus God’s Son. Also, I see Jesus taking the law beyond just mere observance to that inward spiritual intention of God Himself.

  3. Pingback: What It Means to Love Jesus

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.