This is My Commandment… -Jesus, John 15:12-14

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Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers
(12) This is my commandment.–Comp. Note on John 13:34. In John 15:10 keeping of His commandments was laid down as the means of abiding in His love. He now reminds them that that which was specially the commandment to them was love to one another. Love to God is proved by love to mankind. The two great commandments of the law are really one. “If a man love not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”

MacLaren’s Expositions

THE ONENESS OF THE BRANCHES

John 15:12 – John 15:13.

The union between Christ and His disciples has been tenderly set forth in the parable of the Vine and the branches. We now turn to the union between the disciples, which is the consequence of their common union to the Lord. The branches are parts of one whole, and necessarily bear a relation to each other. We may modify for our present purpose the analogous statement of the Apostle in reference to the Lord’s Supper, and as He says, ‘We being many, are one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread,’ so we may say-The branches, being many, are one Vine, for they are all partakers of that one Vine. Of this union amongst the branches, which results from their common inherence in the Vine, the natural expression and manifestation is the mutual love, which Christ here gives as the commandment, and commends to us all by His own solemn example.

There are four things suggested to me by the words of our text-the Obligation, the Sufficiency, the Pattern, and the Motive, of Christian love.

I. First, the Obligation of love.

The two ideas of commandment and love do not go well together. You cannot pump up love to order, and if you try you generally produce, what we see in abundance in the world and in the Church, sentimental hypocrisy, hollow and unreal. But whilst that is true, and whilst it seems strange to say that we are commanded to love, still we can do a great deal, directly and indirectly, for the cultivation and strengthening of any emotion. We can either cast ourselves into the attitude which is favourable or unfavourable to it. We can either look at the facts which will create it or at those who will check it. We can go about with a sharp eye for the lovable or for the unlovable in man. We can either consciously war against or lazily acquiesce in our own predominant self-absorption and selfishness. And in these and in a number of other ways, our feelings towards other Christian people are very largely under our own control, and therefore are fitting subjects for commandment.

Our Lord lays down the obligation which devolves upon all Christian people, of cherishing a kindly and loving regard to all others who find their place within the charmed circle of His Church. It is an obligation because He commands it. He puts Himself here in the position of the absolute Lawgiver, who has the right of entire and authoritative control over men’s affections and hearts. And it is further obligatory because such an attitude is the only fitting expression of the mutual relation of Christian men, through their common relation to the Vine. If there be the one life-sap circling through all parts of the mighty whole, how anomalous and how contradictory it is that these parts should not be harmoniously concordant among themselves! However unlike any two Christian people are to each other in character, in culture, in circumstances, the bond that knits those who have the same relations to Jesus Christ one to another is far deeper, far more real, and ought to be far closer, than the bond that knits either of them to the men or women to whom they are likest in all these other respects, and to whom they are unlike in this central one. Christian men! you are closer to every other Christian man, down in the depths of your being, however he may be differenced from you by things that are very hard to get over, than you are to the people that you like best, and love most, if they do not participate with you in this common love to Jesus Christ.

I dread talking mere sentiment about this matter, for there is perhaps no part of Christian duty which has been so vulgarised and pawed over by mere unctuous talk, as that of the fellowship that should subsist between all Christians. But I have one plain question to put,-Does anybody believe that the present condition of Christendom, and the relations to one another even of good Christian people in the various churches and communions of our own and of other lands, is the sort of thing that Jesus Christ meant, or is anything like a fair and adequate representation of the deep, essential unity that knits us all together?

We need far more to realise the fact that our emotions towards our brother Christians are not matters in which our own inclinations may have their way, but that there is a simple commandment given to us, and that we are bound to cherish love to every man who loves Jesus Christ. Never mind though he does not hold your theology; never mind though he be very ignorant and narrow as compared with you; never mind though your outlook on the world may be entirely unlike his. Never mind though you be a rich man and he a poor one, or you a poor one and he rich, which is just as hard to get over. Let all these secondary grounds of union and of separation be relegated to their proper subordinate place; and let us recognise this, that the children of one Father are brethren. And do not let it be possible that it shall be said, as so often has been said, and said truly, that ‘brethren’ in the Church means a great deal less than brothers in the world. Lift your eyes beyond the walls of the little sheepfold in which you live, and hearken to the bleating of the flocks away out yonder, and feel-’Other sheep He has which are not of this fold’; and recognise the solemn obligation of the commandment of love.

II. Note, secondly, the Sufficiency of love.

Our Lord has been speaking in a former verse about the keeping of His commandments. Now He gathers them all up into one. ‘This is my commandment, that ye love one another’ All duties to our fellows, and all duties to our brethren, are summed up in, or resolved into, this one germinal, encyclopaediacal, all-comprehensive simplification of duty, into the one word ‘love.’

Where the heart is right the conduct will be right. Love will soften the tones, will instinctively teach what we ought to be and do; will take the bitterness out of opposition and diversity, will make even rebuke, when needful, only a form of expressing itself. If the heart be right all else will be right; and if there be a deficiency of love nothing will be right. You cannot help anybody except on condition of having an honest, beneficent, and benevolent regard towards him. You cannot do any man in the world any good unless there is a shoot of love in your heart towards him. You may pitch him benefits, and you will neither get nor deserve thanks for them; you may try to teach him, and your words will be hopeless and profitless. The one thing that is required to bind Christian men together is this common affection. That being there, everything will come. It is the germ out of which all is developed. As we read in that great chapter to the Corinthians-the lyric praise of Charity,-all kinds of blessing and sweetness and gladness come out of this, It is the central force which, being present, secures that all shall be right, which, being absent, ensures that all shall be wrong.

And is it not beautiful to see how Jesus Christ, leaving the little flock of His followers in the world, gave them no other instruction for their mutual relationship? He did not instruct them about institutions and organisations, about orders of the ministry and sacraments, or Church polity and the like. He knew that all these would come. His one commandment was, ‘Love one another,’ and that will make you wise. Love one another, and you will shape yourselves into the right forms. He knew that they needed no exhortations such as ecclesiastics would have put in the foreground. It was not worth while to talk to them about organisations and officers. These would come to them at the right time and in the right way. The ‘one thing needful’ was that they should be knit together as true participators of His life. Love was sufficient as their law and as their guide.

III. Note, further, the Pattern of love.

‘As I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ Christ sets Himself forward then, here and in this aspect, as He does in all aspects of human conduct and character, as being the realised Ideal of them all. And although the thought is a digression from my present purpose, I cannot but pause for a moment to reflect upon the strangeness of a man thus calmly saying to the whole world, ‘I am the embodiment of all that love ought to be. You cannot get beyond Me, nor have anything more pure, more deep, more self-sacrificing, more perfect, than the love which I have borne to you.’

But passing that, the pattern that He proposes for us is even more august than appears at first sight. For, if you remember, a verse or two before our Lord had said, ‘As the Father hath loved Me so I have loved you.’ Now He says, ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ There stand the three, as it were, the Father, the Son, the disciple. The Son in the midst receives and transmits the Father’s love to the disciple, and the disciple is to love his fellows, in some deep and august sense, as the Father loved the Son. The divinest thing in God, and that in which men can be like God, is love. In all our other attitudes to Him we rather correspond than copy. His fullness is met by our emptiness, His giving by our recipiency, His faithfulness by our faith, His command by our obedience, His light by our eye. But here it is not a case of correspondence only, but of similarity. My faith answers God’s gift to me, but my love is like God’s love. ‘Be ye, therefore, imitators of God as beloved children’; and having received that love into your hearts, ray it out, ‘and walk in love as God also hath loved us.’

But then our Lord here, in a very wonderful manner, sets forth the very central point of His work, even His death upon the Cross for us, as being the pattern to which our poor affection ought to aspire, and after which it must tend to be conformed. I need not remind you, I suppose, that our Lord here is not speaking of the propitiatory character of His death, nor of the issues which depend upon it, and upon it alone, viz., the redemption and salvation of the world. He is not speaking, either, of the peculiar and unique sense in which He lays down His life for us, His friends and brethren, as none other can do. He is speaking about it simply in its aspect of being a voluntary surrender, at the bidding of love, for the good of those whom He loved, and that, He tells us-that, and nothing else-is the true pattern and model towards which all our love is bound to tend and to aspire. That is to say, the heart of the love which He commands is self-sacrifice, reaching to death if death be needful. And no man loves as Christ would have him love who does not bear in his heart affection which has so conquered selfishness that, if need be, he is ready to die.

The expression of Christian life is not to be found in honeyed words, or the indolent indulgence in benevolent emotion, but in self-sacrifice, modelled after that of Christ’s sacrificial death, which is imitable by us.

Brethren, it is a solemn obligation, which may well make us tremble, that is laid on us in these words, ‘As I have loved you.’ Calvary was less than twenty-four hours off, and He says to us, ‘That is your pattern!’ Contrast our love at its height with His-a drop to an ocean, a poor little flickering rushlight held up beside the sun. My love, at its best, has so far conquered my selfishness that now and then I am ready to suffer a little inconvenience, to sacrifice a little leisure, to give away a little money, to spend a little dribble of sympathy upon the people who are its objects. Christ’s love nailed Him to the Cross, and led Him down from the throne, and shut for a time the gates of the glory behind Him. And He says, ‘That is your pattern!’

Oh, let us bow down and confess how His word, which commands us, puts us to shame, when we think of how miserably we have obeyed.

Remember, too, that the restriction which here seems to be cast around the flow of His love is not a restriction in reality, but rather a deepening of it. He says, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ But evidently He calls them so from His point of view, and as He sees them, not from their point of view, as they see Him-that is to say, He means by ‘friends’ not those who love Him, but those whom He loves. The ‘friends’ for whom He dies are the same persons as the Apostle, in his sweet variation upon the words of my text, has called by the opposite name, when He says that He died for His ‘enemies.’

There is an old, wild ballad that tells of how a knight found, coiling round a tree in a dismal forest, a loathly dragon breathing out poison; and how, undeterred by its hideousness and foulness, he cast his arms round it and kissed it on the mouth. Three times he did it undisgusted, and at the third the shape changed into a fair lady, and he won his bride. Christ ‘kisses with the kisses of His mouth’ His enemies, and makes them His friends because He loves them. ‘If He had never died for His enemies’ says one of the old fathers, ‘He would never have possessed His friends.’ And so He teaches us here in what seems to be a restriction of the purpose of His death and the sweep of His love, that the way by which we are to meet even alienation and hostility is by pouring upon it the treasures of an unselfish, self-sacrificing affection which will conquer at the last.

Christ’s death is the pattern for our lives as well as the hope of our hearts.

IV. Lastly, we have here by implication, though not by direct statement, the Motive of the love.

Surely that, too, is contained in the words, ‘As I have loved you.’ Christ’s commandment of love is a new commandment, not so much because it is a revelation of a new duty, though it is the casting of an old duty into new prominence, as because it is not merely a revelation of an obligation, but the communication of power to fulfil it. The novelty of Christian morality lies here, that in its law there is a self-fulfilling force. We have not to look to one place for the knowledge of our duty, and somewhere else for the strength to do it, but both are given to us in the one thing, the gift of the dying Christ and His immortal love.

That love, received into our hearts, will conquer, and it alone will conquer, our selfishness. That love, received into our hearts, will mould, and it alone will mould, them into its own likeness. That love, received into our hearts, will knit, and it alone will knit, all those who participate in it into a common bond, sweet, deep, sacred, and all-victorious.

And so, brethren, if we would know the blessedness and the sweetness of victory over these miserable, selfish hearts of ours, and to walk in the liberty of love, we can only get it by keeping close to Jesus Christ. In any circle, the nearer the points of the circumference are to the centre, the closer they will necessarily be to one another. As we draw nearer, each for himself, to our Centre, we shall feel that we have approximated to all those who stand round the same centre, and draw from it the same life. In the early spring, when the wheat is green and young, and scarcely appears above the ground, it comes up in the lines in which it was sown, parted from one another and distinctly showing their separation and the furrows. But when the full corn in the ear waves on the autumn plain, all the lines and separations have disappeared, and there is one unbroken tract of sunny fruitfulness. And so when the life in Christ is low and feeble, His servants may be separated and drawn up in rigid lines of denominations, and churches, and sects; but as they grow the lines disappear. If to the churches of England to-day there came a sudden accession of knowledge of Christ, and of union with Him, the first thing that would go would be the wretched barriers that separate us from one another. For if we have the life of Christ in any adequate measure in ourselves, we shall certainly have grown up above the fences behind which we began to grow, and shall be able to reach out to all that love the Lord Jesus Christ, and feel with thankfulness that we are one in Him

CHRIST’S FRIENDS

John 15:14 – John 15:17.

A wonderful word has just dropped from the Master’s lips, when He spoke of laying down His life for His friends. He lingers on it as if the idea conveyed was too great and sweet to be taken in at once, and with soothing reiteration He assures the little group that they, even they, are His friends.

I have ventured to take these four verses for consideration now, although each of them, and each clause of them, might afford ample material for a discourse, because they have one common theme. They are a description of what Christ’s friends are to Him, of what He is to them, and of what they should be to one another. So they are a little picture, in the sweetest form, of the reality, the blessedness, the obligations, of friendship with Christ.

I. Notice what Christ’s friends do for Him.

‘Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.’ In the former verse, ‘friends’ means chiefly those whom He loved. Here it means mainly those who love Him. They love Him because He loves them, of course; and the two sides of the one thought cannot be parted. But still in this verse the idea of friendship to Christ is looked at from the human side, and He tells His disciples that they are His lovers as well as beloved of Him, on condition of their doing whatsoever He commands them.

He lingers, as I said, on the idea itself. As if He would meet the doubts arising from the sense of unworthiness, and from some dim perception of how He towers above them, and their limitations, He reiterates, ‘Wonderful as it is, you poor men, half-intelligent lovers of Mine, you are My friends, beloved of Me, and loving Me, if ye do whatsoever I command you.’

How wonderful that stooping love of His is, which condescends to array itself in the garments of ours! Every form of human love Christ lays His hand upon, and claims that He Himself exercises it in a transcendent degree. ‘He that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother and sister and mother.’ That which is even sacreder, the purest and most complete union that humanity is capable of-that, too, He consecrates; for even it, sacred as it is, is capable of a higher consecration, and, sweet as it is, receives a new sweetness when we think of ‘the Bride, the Lamb’s wife,’ and remember the parables in which He speaks of the Marriage Supper of the Great King, and sets forth Himself as the Husband of humanity. And passing from that Holy of Holies out into this outer court, He lays His hand, too, on that more common and familiar, and yet precious and sacred, thing-the bond of friendship. The Prince makes a friend of the beggar.

Even if we do not think more loftily of Jesus Christ than do those who regard Him simply as the perfection of humanity, is it not beautiful and wonderful that He should look with such eyes of beaming love on that handful of poor, ignorant fishermen, who knew Him so dimly, and say: ‘I pass by all the wise and the mighty, all the lofty and noble, and My heart clings to you poor, insignificant people?’ He stoops to make them His friends, and there are none so low but that they may be His.

This friendship lasts to-day. A peculiarity of Christianity is the strong personal tie of real love and intimacy which will bind men, to the end of time, to this Man that died nineteen hundred years ago. We look back into the wastes of antiquity: mighty names rise there that we reverence; there are great teachers from whom we have learned, and to whom, after a fashion, we are grateful. But what a gulf there is between us and the best and noblest of them! But here is a dead Man, who to-day is the Object of passionate attachment and a love deeper than life to millions of people, and will be till the end of time. There is nothing in the whole history of the world in the least like that strange bond which ties you and me to the Saviour, and the paradox of the Apostle remains a unique fact in the experience of humanity: ‘Jesus Christ, whom, having not seen, ye love.’ We stretch out our hands across the waste, silent centuries, and there, amidst the mists of oblivion, thickening round all other figures in the past, we touch the warm, throbbing heart of our Friend, who lives for ever, and for ever is near us. We here, nearly two millenniums after the words fell on the nightly air on the road to Gethsemane, have them coming direct to our hearts. A perpetual bond unites men with Christ to-day; and for us, as really as in that long-past Paschal night, is it true, ‘Ye are My friends.’

There are no limitations in that friendship, no misconstructions in that heart, no alienation possible, no change to be feared. There is absolute rest for us there. Why should I be solitary if Jesus Christ is my Friend? Why should I fear if He walks by my side? Why should anything be burdensome if He lays it upon me and helps me to bear it? What is there in life that cannot be faced and borne-aye, and conquered,-if we have Him, as we all may have Him, for the Friend and the Home of our hearts?

But notice the condition, ‘If ye do what I command you.’ Note the singular blending of friendship and command, involving on our parts the cultivation of the two things which are not incompatible, absolute submission and closest friendship. He commands though He is Friend; though He commands He is Friend. The conditions that He lays down are the same which have already occupied our attention in former sermons of this series, and so may be touched very lightly. ‘Ye are My friends if ye do the things which I command you,’ may either correspond with His former saying, ‘If a Man love Me he will keep My commandments,’ or with His later one, which immediately precedes our text, ‘If ye keep My commandments ye shall abide in My love.’ For this is the relationship between love and obedience, in regard to Jesus Christ, that the love is the parent of the obedience, and the obedience is the guard and guarantee of the love. They who love will obey, they who obey will strengthen love by acting according to its dictates, and will be in a condition to feel and realise more the warmth of the rays that stream down upon them, and to send back more fully answering obedience from their hearts. Not in mere emotion, not in mere verbal expression, not in mere selfish realising of the blessings of His friendship, and not in mere mechanical, external acts of conformity, but in the flowing down and melting of the hard and obstinate iron will, at the warmth of His great love, is our love made perfect. The obedience, which is the child and the preserver of love, is something far deeper than the mere outward conformity with externally apprehended commandments. To submit is the expression of love, and love is deepened by submission.

II. Secondly, note what Christ does for His friends.

‘Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth.’ The slave may see what his lord does, but he does not know his purpose in his acts-’Theirs not to reason why.’ In so far as the relation of master and servant goes, and still more in that of owner and slave, there is simple command on the one side and unintelligent obedience on the other. The command needs no explanation, and if the servant is in his master’s confidence he is more than a servant. But, says Christ, ‘I have called you friends’; and He had called them so before He now named them so. He had called them so in act, and He points to all His past relationship, and especially to the heart-outpourings of the Upper Room, as the proof that He had called them His friends, in the fact that whatsoever He had heard of the Father He had made known to them.

Jesus Christ, then, recognises the obligation of absolute frankness, and He will tell His friends everything that He can. When He tells them what He can, the voice of the Father speaks through the Son. Every one of Christ’s friends stands nearer to God than did Moses at the door of the Tabernacle, when the wondering camp beheld him face to face with the blaze of the Shekinah glory, and dimly heard the thunderous utterances of God as He spake to him ‘as a man speaks to his friend.’ That was surface-speech compared with the divine depth and fullness of the communications which Jesus Christ deems Himself bound, and assumes Himself able, to make to them who love Him and whom He loves.

Of course to Christ’s frankness there are limits. He will not pour out His treasures into vessels that will spill them; and as He Himself says in the subsequent part of this great discourse, ‘I have many things to say unto you, but you are not able to carry them now.’ His last word was, ‘I have declared Thy name unto My brethren, and will declare it.’ And though here He speaks as if His communication was perfect, we are to remember that it was necessarily conditioned by the power of reception on the part of the hearers, and that there was much yet to be revealed of what God had whispered to Him, ere these men, that clustered round Him, could understand the message.

That frank speech is continued to-day. Jesus Christ recognises the obligation that binds Him to impart to each of us all that each of us is in our inmost spirits capable of receiving. By the light which He sheds on the Word, by many a suggestion through human lips, by many a blessed thought rising quietly within our hearts, and bearing the token that it comes from a sacreder source than our poor, blundering minds, He still speaks to us, His friends.

Ought not that thought of the utter frankness of Jesus make us, for one thing, very patient, intellectually and spiritually, of the gaps that are left in His communications and in our knowledge? There are so many things that we sometimes think we should like to know, things about that dark future where some of our hearts live so constantly, things about the depths of His nature and the divine character, things about the relation between God’s love and God’s righteousness, things about the meaning of all this dreadful mystery in which we grope our way. These and a hundred other questionings suggest to us that it would have been so easy for Him to have lifted a little corner of the veil, and let a little more of the light shine out. He holds all in His hand. Why does He thus open one finger instead of the whole palm? Because He loves. A friend exercises the right of reticence as well as the prerogative of speech. And for all the gaps that are left, let us bow quietly and believe that if it had been better for us He would have spoken. ‘If it were not so I would have told you.’ ‘Trust Me! I tell you all that it is good for you to receive.’

And that frankness may well teach us another lesson, viz., the obligation of keeping our ears open and our hearts prepared to receive the speech that does come from Him. Ah, brother! many a message from your Lord flits past you, like the idle wind through an archway, because you are not listening for His voice. If we kept down the noise of that ‘household jar within’; if we silenced passion, ambition, selfishness, worldliness; if we withdrew ourselves, as we ought to do, from the Babel of this world, and ‘hid ourselves in His pavilion from the strife of tongues’; if we took less of our religion out of books and from other people, and were more accustomed to ‘dwell in the secret place of the Most High,’ and to say, ‘Speak, Friend! for Thy friend heareth,’ we should more often understand how real to-day is the voice of Christ to them that love Him.

‘Such rebounds the inward ear

Catches often from afar;

Listen, prize them, hold them dear,

For of God-of God-they are.’

III. Thirdly, notice how Christ’s friends come to be so, and why they are so.

‘Ye have not chosen,’ etc. {John 15:16}.

Our Lord refers here, no doubt, primarily to the little group of the Apostles; the choice and ordaining as well as ‘the fruit that abides,’ point, in the first place, to their apostolic office, and to the results of their apostolic labours. But we must widen out the words a great deal beyond that reference.

In all the cases of friendship between Christ and men, the origination and initiation come from Him. ‘We love Him because He first loved us.’ He has told us how, in His divine alchemy, He changes by the shedding of His blood our enmity into friendship. In the previous verse He has said, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ And as I remarked in my last sermon, the friends here are the same as ‘the enemies’ for whom, the Apostle tells us that Christ laid down His life. Since He has thus by the blood of the Cross changed men’s enmity into friendship, it is true universally that the amity between us and Christ comes entirely from Him.

But there is more than that in the words. I do not suppose that any man, whatever his theological notions and standpoint may be, who has felt the love of Christ in his own heart in however feeble a measure, but will say, as the Apostle said, ‘I was apprehended of Christ.’ It is because He lays His seeking and drawing hand upon us that we ever come to love Him, and it is true that His choice of us precedes our choice of Him, and that the Shepherd always comes to seek the sheep that is lost in the wilderness.

This, then, is how we come to be His friends; because, when we were enemies, He loved us, and gave Himself for us, and ever since has been sending out the ambassadors and the messengers of His love-or, rather, the rays and beams of it, which are parts of Himself-to draw us to His heart. And the purpose which all this forthgoing of Christ’s initial and originating friendship has had in view, is set forth in words which I can only touch in the lightest possible manner. The intention is twofold. First, it respects service or fruit. ‘That ye may go’; there is deep pathos and meaning in that word. He had been telling them that He was going; now He says to them, ‘You are to go. We part here. My road lies upward; yours runs onward. Go into all the world.’ He gives them a quasi-independent position; He declares the necessity of separation; He declares also the reality of union in the midst of the separation; He sends them out on their course with His benediction, as He does us. Wheresoever we go in obedience to His will, we carry the consciousness of His friendship.

‘That ye may bring forth fruit’-He goes back for a moment to the sweet emblem with which this chapter begins, and recurs to the imagery of the vine and the fruit. ‘Keeping His commandments’ does not explain the whole process by which we do the things that are pleasing in His sight. We must also take this other metaphor of the bearing of fruit. Neither an effortless, instinctive bringing forth from the renewed nature and the Christlike disposition, nor a painful and strenuous effort at obedience to His law, describe the whole realities of Christian service. There must be the effort, for men do not grow Christlike in character as the vine grows its grapes; but there must also be, regulated and disciplined by the effort, the inward life, for no mere outward obedience and tinkering at duties and commandments will produce the fruit that Christ desires and rejoices to have. First comes unity of life with Him; and then effort. Take care of modern teachings that do not recognise these two as both essential to the complete ideal of Christian service-the spontaneous fruit-bearing, and the strenuous effort after obedience.

‘That your fruit should remain’; nothing corrupts faster than fruit. There is only one kind of fruit that is permanent, incorruptible. The only life’s activity that outlasts life and the world is the activity of the men who obey Christ.

The other half of the issues of this friendship is the satisfying of our desires, ‘That whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name He may give it you.’ We have already had substantially the same promise in previous parts of this discourse, and therefore I may deal with it very lightly. How comes it that it is certain that Christ’s friends, living close to Him and bearing fruit, will get what they want? Because what they want will be ‘in His name’-that is to say, in accordance with His disposition and will. Make your desires Christ’s, and Christ’s yours, and you will be satisfied.

IV. And now, lastly, for one moment, note the mutual friendship of Christ’s friends.

We have frequently had to consider that point-the relation of the friends of Christ to each other. ‘These things I command you, that ye love one another.’ This whole context is, as it were, enclosed within a golden circlet by that commandment which appeared in a former verse, at the beginning of it, ‘This is My commandment, that ye love one another,’ and reappears here at the close, thus shutting off this portion from the rest of the discourse. Friends of a friend should themselves be friends. We care for the lifeless things that a dear friend has cared for; books, articles of use of various sorts. If these have been of interest to him, they are treasures and precious evermore to us. And here are living men and women, in all diversities of character and circumstances, but with this stamped upon them all-Christ’s friends, lovers of and loved by Him. And how can we be indifferent to those to whom Christ is not indifferent? We are knit together by that bond. We are but poor friends of that Master unless we feel that all which is dear to Him is dear to us. Let us feel the electric thrill which ought to pass through the whole linked circle, and let us beware that we slip not our hands from the grasp of the neighbour on either side, lest, parted from them, we should be isolated from Him, and lose some of the love which we fail to transmit.

My Pondering

MacLaren so eloquently and wholeheartedly speaks to these passages.

I believe this principle also applies to nations, states and cities as God not only relates to us, His people, as individuals but also groups. This is why I chose the picture I did for the meme.

The key points I want to ponder and drive home are.

1. Christ first chose and loved us.

2. He shares with us the ‘why’ and gives is the potential to come within His inner circle of close relationship, from servants to friends. If and when we respond and do His will, we are indeed friends.

3. Talk is cheap and action is dear. Actions speak so much louder than words. Both are important but doing is greater than saying.

4. Love should be our motivation for service and everything. When we are active in fulfilling His commandments, God is glorified and He honors us because love is He.

5. We ought to Think, Be, Do, 1) Let’s THINK the right things starting and ending with Scripture. 2) The we just need to BE in His Spirit with the right attitude and emotional state by abiding with Jesus. 3) Then just DO it. Do the right stuff. It is the doing, especially by faith above sight, do we complete the circle. Then we are fully empowered and friends indeed.

Think

Be

Do

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