John 14:15-21 (NRSV)
Verse 15"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. Verse 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. Verse 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
Verse 18"I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. Verse 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. Verse 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Verse 21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them."
Our reading is bookended with Jesus’ statements linking love for him with the keeping of commandments. Do we have to earn our salvation after all by following the commandments? A few thoughts:
Jesus didn’t say “the Ten Commandments” or “the law of Moses”; he said “my commandments.” What are his commandments? Presumably just moments ago as part of this same conversation with the disciples, and after a foot-washing object lesson, Jesus had said, “I give you a new commandment. . . . Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34). What Jesus commands of us is always love.
And no, this isn’t about earning salvation. It’s about how we live, having been saved. Did you hear Jesus’ earlier words? The “I have loved you” is the premise from which “you also should love” flows. But just as a parent’s heart swells with love when their child treats someone with the respect the parent has taught, surely Jesus feels love for those who live out their salvation by keeping his command to love.
Jesus, remind us each moment of our days what the most loving action would be, that we may keep your command in thanksgiving for the love you have first shown us. Amen.