“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” (v. 23).
“There is nothing to which we are more prone than to . . . love something else than Christ under the name of Christ.” That thought from John Calvin’s commentary on John should resonate with every Christian. All too often, we think that we have been loving the Christ of the Bible only to find out we have been loving the Christ of our imagination. We tend to define the lordship of Christ according to what we want and not what He has revealed.
We are not the first disciples of Jesus who have had this problem. Our Lord knew that it would be an issue for His first disciples and for every generation that would follow them. The words found in today’s passage that Jesus spoke to His first disciples, therefore, are for us just as much as they were for them. He states again that following Him and loving Him go hand in hand. Those who have and keep His commandments are those who truly love Him (John 14:21). To have the commandments of Jesus is not merely to possess the Scriptures but to seek to make these commandments part of ourselves. Lovers of Christ reflect deeply on His commands and endeavor to obey Him in the power of the Spirit.
What happens to those who keep Christ’s commandments? They will be loved by the Father and the Son (v. 21). The love of the Father is inseparable from the love of the Son, such that when we love the Son, we love the Father; and when the Son loves us, the Father loves us as well. Father and Son come to make Their home with us when we keep Christ’s commands because our obedience demonstrates that we love Them and that we welcome Their presence (v. 23). Again we must note that our Savior does not mean that we merit the Father and Son’s dwelling with us and Their love by our obedience. After all, God takes the initiative in sending His Son and His Spirit in order to make us His children (3:3, 16). Jesus is speaking of the ongoing reciprocal relationship between God and His people. He loves them and gives them the Spirit so that they can obey (14:15–17) and they love Him and demonstrate that love by living according to His law—not perfectly on this side of glory but in an ever more consistent manner over time.
In addition to loving those who keep the commandments of Christ, the Son also manifests Himself to those who love and obey Him (v. 21). Here we have an allusion to the relationship between our ethics and our understanding of Christ. The more we seek to obey our Savior, the better we will know Him.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
Calvin also comments on today’s passage that “the fruit of piety is progress in the knowledge of Christ.” Personal holiness is an important component of understanding the Word of God. If we are not seeking to grow in conformity to Christ, we should not expect to grow in the deeper things of God. Let us keep the commandments of Christ today so that we will know Him more and more.