“If Ye Love Me”

“If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
—John 14:23

MUCH HAS BEEN SAID and written emphasizing the importance of the Christian’s personal love for Jesus. Yet, strange as it may seem, so far as the historical records of his life are concerned, Jesus himself said very little on this subject. Matthew reports Jesus as saying that those who love their own people more than they love him are not worthy of him (Matt. 10:37); and John, the disciple of love, quotes Jesus on this point only a few times. In our text, as well as in other statements of Jesus, we find the Master stressing the thought that love for him would be reflected in obedience to his teachings, and by faithfulness in serving—even at the cost of life itself—those whom he loved and looked upon as his sheep.


The Apostle Peter wrote concerning Jesus, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” (I Pet. 1:8) Peter addresses this remark to the “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”—vs. 2

The Apostle John refers several times to our love for God, and emphasizes that those who possess such love will manifest it by loving their brethren; which is a similar viewpoint as that expressed by Jesus when he said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) This would indicate that John, the apostle of love, caught the essence of Jesus’ teachings on the subject, which is that our personal love for the Master and for our Heavenly Father is not measured by how much we talk about it, nor by emotional feelings, but by the manner in which we obey their commandments and rejoice in the Divine plan of salvation.


The Apostle Paul wrote, “Henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, … henceforth know we him [so] no more.” (II Cor. 5:16) This text indicates that there were many in the Early Church who had been personally acquainted with Jesus while he was in the flesh. For these, the memory of their acquaintance and contact with him must have been sweet indeed. Even so, Paul was pointing out to them that their true relationship with the Master was one which transcended their memory of him in the flesh. Such a treasured memory, held by those who enjoyed a measure of personal fellowship with Jesus, would naturally lead to a very strong attachment to him, but might not necessarily inspire obedience to his commands and loyalty to his doctrines.

Failing to understand the doctrines of the Divine plan, and the wonderful position the Divine Christ now occupies in the Father’s arrangement, the tendency of churchianity has been to deify the man Jesus, and to judge the genuineness of Christian experience by the depth of emotional love one might feel toward him. It was to aid in this that statues of the man Jesus were introduced into the church, ignoring Paul’s statement that we no longer know Christ ‘after the flesh.’

This does not mean that a Christian should not appreciate the perfection of the man Christ Jesus, nor be inspired by his unswerving devotion to God and his love for righteousness. The manner in which Jesus obeyed his Father’s will, and by so doing laid down his life in sacrifice for both the church and the world, should ever be a pattern for us to follow. His gentleness, patience, sympathy, compassion, and love constitute a standard of character which we should continually strive to attain. Our hearts naturally go out in love to the One who, in displaying his Father’s love, so willingly gave up all in order that we might live.

It is surely inspiring to read, and to meditate upon, the historical records of the Master’s life of perfect obedience to his Father’s will. In our minds we love to go with him as he moves from city to city, and from one scene of active service to another, and hear those gracious words which fell from his lips. We almost envy the great privilege enjoyed by those first disciples of being personally with Jesus, and so intimately associated in his work.


Jesus appreciated every evidence of love which was displayed toward him by his disciples and friends. Those who are noble of heart naturally appreciate nobility in others, and the disciples’ love for the Master was an evidence to him that they appreciated the godlike qualities which they saw displayed in him; and his love went out to them in return. This reciprocity of love is quite understandable even by the natural man, and although a beautiful characteristic, is in itself no evidence at all of special spiritual discernment.

An understanding of the marvelous virtues of Jesus’ perfect character as a man must be accompanied by an appreciation of spiritual things. The Apostle Peter loved the Master, a love which must have been based upon his glorious personality, but he had little spiritual discernment. When Jesus announced his intention of visiting Jerusalem where he expected to be arrested and put to death, Peter said, “Be it far from thee, Lord.” (Matt. 16:22) Commenting on this, Jesus explained that Peter had expressed a purely human viewpoint.

John loved Jesus, delighting to be near to him. But despite this deep personal attachment, John was just as bewildered as the others when Jesus was crucified, and, together with Peter and James, decided to go back into the fishing business.


Outstanding among Jesus’ commandments is the one in which he enjoins upon his followers the necessity of loving one another as he loved them. (John 13:34) This was a love which expressed itself in sacrifice. It rose far above natural affection and impelled the Master to lay down his life for those who became his disciples and espoused his Father’s cause. Jesus considered it important for his disciples to understand his unselfish interest in them, and indicated that they could express a higher love for him by their willingness similarly to lay down their lives for one another.

This ‘new’ commandment surely points to a very understandable and practical manner in which we can express our love for our risen and glorified Lord. We cannot see him, even as we cannot see our Heavenly Father, but we can see the members of his body—those whom he particularly loves, and for whom he laid down his life. By loving and serving these, even to the extent of laying down our lives for them, we demonstrate our love for the Master. No matter how much we may claim to love Jesus, if we are indifferent to the needs of our brethren, it means that our professions are vain and empty.

Equally important to demonstrate our love for Jesus is the keeping of his commandments. Jesus explained that his followers were to be the “light of the world,” and said that we should not keep our light under a “bushel.” Then he added, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:14-16) Our professions of love for Jesus would be but as empty words should we fail to obey this commandment.


“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness,” is another of Jesus’ commandments. (Matt. 6:33) To keep this ‘saying’ means that everything else in life must be made secondary to seeking the kingdom of God. We ‘seek’ the kingdom and its righteousness through our study of the Word and obedience to all its precepts. We ‘seek’ the kingdom by laying down our lives for the brethren, and by letting our light shine for the blessing of others; and Jesus accepts all of these as evidences of our love for him.

We cannot properly ‘seek’ the kingdom of God without being enthusiastically interested in all the things which the kingdom will mean to both the church and the world. Seeking the kingdom from the standpoint of our own share in its spiritual phase means that we will lay up treasures in heaven, and will not have our hearts set upon laying up earthly treasures. We will set our affections on things above, not on things of the earth.

We will also be enthusiastic about the blessings of restitution which the Lord has provided for all mankind. As our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus view the matter, one would give little evidence of love for them if in any manner he was indifferent to the wonderful provisions they have made for the blessing of the fallen and dying race. The restitution feature of the kingdom was so important to God that he caused all his prophets to write about it! God so loved the “world,” not merely the church, that he gave his Son to die in order that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Surely our seeking the kingdom, through which the blessings of restitution will be made available to the people, must include a lively interest in this great objective of the kingdom.

If we thrill at the thought of the coming ‘times of restitution of all things’ we will want to talk about this theme of the prophets, and we will want to tell the world about it. To be in this attitude of mind and heart does not indicate a lack of love for Christ, or for God, but the opposite; for it reveals our appreciation of one of the outstanding features of the plan of God.

Satan would like us to believe that our love for Christ can be demonstrated apart from consideration of the doctrines of the Divine plan, particularly the great doctrine of restitution. But this is just one of his cunning sophistries by which he endeavors to take the truth away from God’s people, or at least to minimize its importance so that it is no longer a vital issue in their lives.

How logical this is! How empty would be our professions of love for God and for the Master if at the same time we were to minimize the importance of the arrangements whereby Divine blessings reach both the church and the world! How else, indeed, could we know anything about God and Jesus, except as they have revealed themselves to us through the truth? Let us, therefore, demonstrate our love by our continued appreciation of, and loyalty to, the truth.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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