Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15 NASB) There is a deep connection between our love for Jesus and our obedience to Him. These powerful words of Jesus are simply stated, but I don’t think I have always understood them properly.
In the past, in my mind, I basically flipped the statement around to say, “If I keep His commandments, then I will really prove that I love Him.” In other words, I believed that commandment keeping was the way in which I could show my love for Jesus. Or, with a slightly different nuance, one might say love and obedience are the same thing. I’m not saying that these thoughts are wrong or unbiblical (see for example 1 John 5:3), but I don’t think they capture what Jesus was saying in John 14:15.
I believe Jesus was saying that love is the driver of obedience. Love for Jesus is the force that motivates our obedience to Jesus. If we love Him, keeping His commandments will follow as a natural consequence of that love.
What does it mean, then, to love Jesus? It means to cherish Him, to delight in Him, to take immense pleasure in Him, and to have great satisfaction in Him. When is the last time you just took time to marvel at Jesus and delight in Him? When is the last time you took time to praise and adore Him for everything He is, everything He has done, and everything He is doing now? When is the last time you have expressed your love to Him without any other agenda in your mind? As our love for Jesus grows, our desire to keep His commandments will grow. Why? Because we will want to please the One we love. We will want to be near to Him and be like Him. When we love Him, keeping His commandments will not be a burden, but love in action.
And this love is not a one-way street. He loves us, too! Of course, He loves all mankind, but He loves His disciples in a very special way. As Jesus says later in the same passage, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” (John 14:21 NASB)
Not only will the Father and Son love us, but Jesus promises to disclose Himself to us. What a blessed thought! May our love for Jesus be ever growing.