When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:31-35
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another. – John 15:12-17
Jesus calls us, his followers, to a standard that is impossible to meet: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Yeah, right! Anyone who thinks, “OK, I will do that,” simply doesn’t understand what Jesus just said. This is a call to a totally sinless love; an impossibility for we humans who daily fight against our sinful flesh. For some of us, it seems to be a bigger struggle than others, but we all have to deal with our sin. This includes all those sinful thoughts that we control and never turn into actions. They are still sin. Hard, I know, but that is what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount.
Ultimately Jesus was referring to his own laying down of his life for us. From this, he extrapolates that the greatest act of love we can perform is to lay down our lives for our brothers/sisters. He considers us his friends if we do what he commands us. Obviously, he didn’t require perfect obedience to his commands because he says, “I have called you friends.” He is talking to, among the others, Peter who will deny Christ three times within hours of this discourse. But, Jesus still calls him “friend.”
Then Jesus lays a mind boggler on us. Think about this. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
- I chose you
- I appointed you to bear fruit
- Your fruit will remain
- So that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you
Then he says, I am commanding these things so that you will love one another.
How is it that we can be obedient, bear fruit and end up loving as Jesus loves?
There is only one answer. Paul lays it out in Galatians 5.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
We can only live a life of love, i.e., a life of obedience, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Since our life is from the Spirit, keep in step with the Spirit. His empowerment to overcome the flesh and enablement to produce the fruit of the Spirit is the only paradigm that works. Anything else is a human attempt to be godly, and that is an impossibility.
Come Holy Spirit and fill me now. Produce in me your fruit so that my life can glorify your name.