On Keeping the Commandments and the Words of Jesus.

John 14:21-23.

[04 1863 240] We have in this portion two things, the proof of love first, in having and keeping our Lord's commandments; and next, in keeping His words. At first sight it might seem somewhat startling: "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me;" but the more we weigh the words, the more evident and all-important is their truth. It is clear our Lord was not speaking here simply of what is moral, or the ten commandments. A man might be found most rigorous in that, like Saul of Tarsus, and yet not have a particle of love to Christ. He could say of himself "touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless." But here, in this passage, what the Lord is calling attention to is not the law — not that any one would seek to lighten its weight; it had been given of God. But the Lord says, Here is a test, "he that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me." This touches upon what is more closely personal. We know that in ordinary life if there is any one we care for and love in a special way, a word from such a one will have immense weight on the spirit. Where there is love, there is amazing quickness in knowing what the will is, what the desire is — and bearing it in mind. But on the other hand if there is frivolity of spirit, there will be carelessness and forgetfulness of what is desired; and this is true of us with the Lord. Love to Christ will make us delight in His commandments. Confidence in His love will make us not afraid of examining them; but on the contrary search into them as a light to our path. But that is not enough. "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me. And he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him." In this keeping of His commandments, there will be further manifestations of the Lord to the soul. It is only as we walk in obedience that there is communion with the Lord. To walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, there must be confidence in His love. Then you get fullness of love in return. "I will manifest myself unto him;" not only my will, but myself.

This word brings out a question of Jude, which shows how little the disciples understood the secret manifestation of which He spoke. They thought only of an open, public manifestation; and that, as when David was set upon the throne, those who had been with Him during His rejection were given places of special honour around Him, so it would be now. "How is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not unto the world?" But the Lord explains that it is during His absence He expects these proofs of their love. He would send the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, who would be always with them, to bring everything to their remembrance that He had said to them, even these very words. And now we are in this very state of things. In constant danger of being forgetful and disobedient, we have still the Comforter to bring these things to our remembrance, and the love of our Lord, who has given us commandments (and they are not grievous) to keep. "Jesus answered him and said, If a man love me, he will keep my words." Here is a further thing. In the former verse, a man has His commandments, knows them, has his heart engaged in them to keep them; not measuring other people by them, but keeping them himself. But when Jude puts the question about manifestation unknown to the world, the Lord says, "If a man love me, he will keep my words." Here is a great advance, one which we do well to weigh. The desires of our Lord are not here put in the form of a "commandment." It is true, that the more we know of Christ, the more we love Him — the more we must desire to remember His authority over our souls, and own and rejoice in it. But this does not meet all that is in His heart. He wants to give us further manifestations of His own love, further revelation of the Father. Thus, what a field it is that we are brought into! He is testing our hearts. Not as to whether we love Him at all — but it is good to test our souls from time to time, how far our love carries us. Are we keeping "His words?" "If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." He looks for love. Warm expressions are not enough — they may not always be trusted — may be rather a proof of want of reverence. But He looks for our love. And suppose the soul does love, how will it show itself? Will there not be the desire to ponder every word, in whatever way the Lord Jesus shows His will? Will there not be delight to be near Him, His love filling our hearts?

The more we enter into His grace, the more we ought to search ourselves by this close word of our Master's. It was needed by His disciples, and surely not less needed by us.