Showing Our Love for Christ

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

- John 14:15

Hard as it may be to believe, we will do greater things than Jesus did during His earthly ministry. That, after all, is what Christ promised His disciples (John 14:12). And as we have seen, these greater things are the works that the church now does in the power of the Holy Spirit as we minister unto the ends of the earth. The scope of Jesus’ works was limited because His ministry took place only in the Holy Land, lasted only about three years, and occurred before the outpouring of God’s Spirit in full measure on all believers. In contrast, the church does its works worldwide, over many years, and in the inaugurated new covenant era of the Holy Spirit.

As we have also seen, we cannot do these greater works on our own. We depend on the power that Jesus gives to do them, so we ask Him to bless our efforts (vv. 13–14). When we ask in His name—that is, according to His will—He will surely give us this power, for in reality, the greater works we do are His works. Only now, instead of doing them from earth, He does them from heaven through the Spirit whom He gives to us (vv. 16–31).

Before He explains the work of the Holy Spirit in full detail, however, Jesus tells us that those who love Him keep His commandments. This carries forward the theme of doing great works in dependence on Jesus (v. 12), for how can the ministry we conduct be considered great if it is not conducted according to His stipulations? If we try to minister in our own power and to the neglect of His revealed will, we are depending on ourselves, and that cannot end well.

Importantly, Jesus connects love for Him with keeping His commandments, and this no doubt will strike many modern people as odd. People today are accustomed to divorcing love and law, to thinking that true love makes no real demands or that the demands it makes are defined by us. No doubt, there is a kind of legalism that would have us use the law of God not as a means to love God and our neighbor, but that is not the fault of the law. In fact, love itself has always been commanded in the law of God, both the love of God and the love of neighbor (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5).

If we truly love Christ, we will depend on Him, and the chief way we show our dependence is by heeding His commandments. Those who will not follow His law do not love Him; rather, they love themselves.

Coram Deo

Dr. R.C. Sproul writes in his commentary John that “the one who loves Jesus subordinates his own desires to those of the Lord.” Our love for Christ does not merit salvation, and neither does keeping His commandments. But keeping His commandments reveals that we have been united to Him for salvation and possess the genuine love that is the consequence of genuine faith. Let us subordinate our desires to Christ today and seek to keep His law.

Passages for Further Study

Romans 13:8–10
Galatians 5:13–14
James 2:8
1 John 5:3

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.