John 14:15-17 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever-- 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
John 15:9-17 New International Version (NIV)
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.10 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. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
A New Command I Give You!
I read these words of Jesus and He seems a little insistent but perhaps that is His way of getting my attention. Even with the repetition the command doesn't sound too bad, as a matter of fact it sounds rather easy. Love is worthy and it doesn't present all of the problems that hate and dislike cause. It means to me that you will love me too and that is good.
On the surface what I have just said has some superficial merit but that's where it stops. Jesus has a way with what He says that strips all of me from whom I think I am. It flays the flesh of my shallowness from the bare bones of me, it leaves essentially an emotional skeleton; it leaves no doubt as to what I am, compared to what He wants me to be.
"Love one another... " That is not one of those perhaps suggestions, or I choose type of statements, it is a blanket command, a complete moral revolution. I must change, all of me has to change, there is no avoidance, no argument, no excuse, no reason not to change; I have to change to become what Jesus commands. In Matthew 19 the rich young man kept his commands, the apostle's kept theirs before Pentecost, and I keep my commands, all to the same degree, each of us keeping the commands that we deem important. They become my commands, because I have interpreted them. The danger with this is I moderate what is commanded. I rationalize or rather minimize what is commanded. I walk the second mile my way; I don't offer any outward resistance to injury; I am forgiving of some but not all, I really like but don't idolize my car, house, job, position, etc. This diluted form of change is no change at all. Jesus doesn't leave the definition up to me He commands.
The Sermon on the Mount doesn't start with, "It would be nice if . . ." The Last Supper, in John's gospel, has Jesus declaring His new command in His blood, "This is my command: Love each other." Why do I think this is so simple to achieve? I ponder now, do I even have any idea what love is?
Is it a warm contented feeling for another?
Is it a lack of anxiety when I am with someone I enjoy?
Is it a peace when I feel contented with others and me?
Is it an overwhelming desire for or to be with another?
Is it a satisfied feeling when I have been gracious with someone whom I usually dislike or can't usually abide?
To answer; do any of the above questions necessitate being written in blood? Can any of the above questions be so intense that they require a death to fulfill them?
The command of Jesus did - and it was His blood that sealed the covenant and defined the love that He spoke of . . .
Jesus makes it so crystal clear that what He desires of us is love for one another as intense as His love for His Father, the apostles and for us. He wants His love to shine forth as a beacon so that all who see it practiced will know that the practitioner is His disciple. This is strict, this is total and this command is the sign that a disciple would be recognized as a true disciple of our Lord, "that you love one another".
My I have trouble with absolutes. But Jesus deals with me in both the firmest and the gentlest manner, He brooks no evasion, no settlement other than His interpretation and yet I balk.
The next dilemma I face is the realization that I have not gone through the required moral revolution, or change, required by Jesus so that His commands can be willingly obeyed.
I wish to go to another place for a moment and ask if anyone can understand who "I" is when we use it to describe ourselves. That is not bad grammar but a question. It seems that the awareness of "me" describes my job, my toys, house, wife, family, car, boat, golf clubs, clothes, etc. I become by association these things, conditions or people.
Is this me?
I have an identity, and by living, it has been formed, because the identification in my mind has been taught. Ever since my parents gave me a name, the sounds they made were formed into words that I associated with me. My name was totally a repetition of sounds and I identified those sounds as me, is that what or who I am? Or are those sounds, translated into thoughts, only held together by my consciousness as I associate with things that I consider mine? By extension these things become me.
Could these sounds, or any combination of them, ever explain who I am?
Could these sounds or any combination of them explain the ultimate purpose of the universe, God, stones, water, life, any or all in depth?
Let me simplify this; Jesus identified with only His Father. That was the essence and complete being that He was. How can I then become like Him? The answer is before me and is so self-evident that I miss it. Paul asked the all important question of some Ephesian disciples, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" (Acts 19:2) This same question must be answered, "Yes," if I want to become like Him, like Jesus. That means that I must disassociate from things, this world, and cling to Him. I must decrease that He can increase. The old man must die so the new man can live. Unoriginal, maybe, but it is who Jesus is. Sacrificial, Jesus was; humble, Jesus was; obedient, Jesus was. I must become like Him. I must be filled with the Holy Spirit.
I asked earlier, "What is love?" and found that I really don't know. The sounds that I associated with what I recognize as the word haven't been transferred or translated into who I am. The emotion and action that is love, was Jesus, and so I read about it and think about it but is love what and whom I am. The central coursing being that is Jesus, this love, has to flow into and from the central coursing being that is me. The struggle that I face is the how this is to be. I have believed because of what I have heard and read like the Rich Young man, have I kept all the commandments? The obvious question is asked by Paul of the Galatians, "Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law or by believing what you heard? " (Ga1.3:2)"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. "
This presents two words that seek the very essence that is me, "command", which says I must surrender to the authority, willingly, and subsequently "love", the command that must be obeyed, willingly. There is the rub, I must obey willingly; doesn't Jesus know that a command doesn't prompt willingness? Perhaps it is me who doesn't understand that this command changes me into "willingly".
The humbleness that comes from realizing that I can't do this without help starts the process and the help that is all too present and available enables me to accomplish what is commanded. Who is this help, the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus received from the Father, and sent to live in each and every believer, that is you and me.
The beauty that God provides is the possibility that with the right choice there is the ability to obey what is commanded. I can change and become His disciple with His help, the Holy Spirit's help. The whole is tied up in the command, "As I have loved you, so you must love one another. " The impossibility of me accomplishing this can only be overturned with the help that has been sent, but must be received. This help and guide is The Holy Spirit, and only with Him can I obey the command as given.
How do I treat Jesus, as an adjective, an adverb, a noun or as a person? How did Jesus treat His disciples and because of the Holy Spirit us? Embrace or take into yourself the five words of this command that state, "As I have loved you..." enlarge them to the ultimate, Jesus died for you, "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us," that is how He loves us.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
Yes I cringe and no I don't understand that kind of love but the command stands and so I need help. This help is only received as I receive the Holy Spirit and allow Him to lead me by the spiritual hand along the difficult path, this path of me becoming less and Him becoming more, this path of obedience to a command.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."