Teaching in the Upper Room: Living in His Love

Teaching in the Upper Room: Living in His Love

Have you ever been in love? Living in love is far greater than not living in love. Every believer, by the grace of God, is able to live in the love of Christ. What’s wrong if we aren’t enjoying it? How do I live in this love, know it and enjoy the love of Christ? This article examines what it means to abide in the love of Christ; living in the enjoyment of the relationship the Son has made with us.

John 15
V1-8 - Abiding in Him
V9-17 - Abiding in His Love
V18-27 - Abiding in the World as a Witness

V9-11 – Enjoyment of Relationship

The first 8 verses of the chapter have focused on ‘abiding;’ a conscious living in fellowship with Christ. Now Christ further develops His lesson to talk about abiding in His love. The first verse we are considering is powerful: “As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you.” The first “loved” is the same as the second[1]; it is exactly the same. The Father’s love for the Son is unfathomable, and so is the Son’s love for us. The Father’s love for the Son is unchanging, as is the Son’s love for us. We could continue. If the truth of this grips our heart, we will always desire unwaveringly to abide in the love of the Son.

How do we abide? V10 tells us, “keep my commandments.” Obedience to Christ at His word will keep us in the enjoyment of the love of Christ.  Notice that it is conditional, “if you keep.” The love of the Son for us is unchanging, but our enjoyment of it will change if we aren’t obedient. Are you obedient to the whole word of God? If not, you’re missing out on the enjoyment of the love of the Son for you. The Son was always obedient and always enjoyed the love of the Father. This is “My Joy” that the Lord is speaking about in v11, which will abide in us and result in fullness of joy. Self-centeredness does not bring joy, but obedience to the Son does which brings the joy of unbroken communion.[2]

V12-14 – Instruction on His Commandment

The Father loves the Son. The Son loves us. We are to love one another. This is what Christ has taught thus far and is part of what is sometimes called “the Circle of Divine Love.” Though we might enjoy the love of the Son, due to the flesh the same love may not be reproduced in us and displayed toward others. Albert Leckie suggested that the Lord must command His disciples, and do so twice, to love one another because we can often be suspicious and envious to fellow humans. We judge others’ motives, envy what God is doing in their lives and react in an unloving way.

How are we to love? It is easy to enjoy the fact that the Father loves the Son and in the same way the Son loves us, but we are to love “as I have loved you.” The calling is high because no greater love was expressed than that of Christ’s when He laid down His life at the cross. Yet we can appreciate something that the disciples could not, that Christ laid down His life for us before He called us “friends.” Like Paul, we can appreciate in a full sense, “Christ died for the ungodly,” “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” and “while we were yet enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.”[3]

V15-17 – Informing of Relationship

The disciples had followed Christ for about three and a half years. He was the Rabbi and they were the students. He was the Lord and they were His servants. Yet in this final night He was sure to relay all the important matters that the disciples needed to know in His absence and therefore He “henceforth” calls them friends. If the Son calls us friend, then He desires to share the things of His heart with us as well. Yet V14 said that His friends do “whatsoever I command you.” The reality of this relationship never changes, but our the enjoyment of it can. If you haven’t been hearing the voice of God, there is the possibility that you aren’t being obedient to the word of God in a known particular matter. His view of us as friends isn’t conditional, but the imparting of the secrets of His heart is.

Another aspect of their relationship with Christ was the fact that He chose them, not vice versa. The choosing in this verse is not in eternity past and related to salvation, but it is to apostleship during the Lord’s public ministry. He also appointed them to this apostleship. The expectation is that they should bring forth fruit, and the fruit which is the reproduction of His character would be seen in their lives. Why was this so vital? The end of v16 says that because He was leaving His representatives, they needed to be able to ask for heaven’s help and receive it. They will, as we do, need this character to consistently pray “in My name.”

V17 brings us back to the beginning of the section, reminding us that we must abide in His love by obedience, and demonstrate that same love toward one another. By doing this, we aren’t just living in love, but will enjoy living in His love.

[1] Both are from agapaō (ἡγάπησέ, ἡγάπησα) Aorist Active Indicative. The aorist is likely used to signify the completeness and wholeness of the love for the Son in both time, strength and character. The Son’s love therefore in this verse anticipates the cross as if complete already.
[2] See also Heb 12:2 and “the joy set before him.”
[3] Rom 5:6, 8, 10.

Leviticus 14

Leviticus 14

Led by the Spirit...Tempted of the Devil

Led by the Spirit...Tempted of the Devil