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Gospel according to John 14: 23-26
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
The Apostle John consistently emphasised the inseparable relationship between love and obedience. To love Jesus, truly love him, one has no alternative but to obey his teaching. Verse 23a repeats what he had already taught his disciples:
- “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14: 15) and
- “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me” (John 14: 21a).
Later in the same discourse, Jesus continued to drive this point home (John 15: 10): “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”
Those who do not love Jesus will not obey his teaching (verse 24). Is the corollary true then? Are those who choose not to obey Jesus’ teaching but who claim to love him actually deceiving themselves (or being deceived by the evil one)?
The Apostle John answered that in his first letter (1 John 2: 4): “Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.”
Jesus used a parable to teach about obedience (Matthew 21: 28-32):
28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.”
There may be occasions when we are slow to do what the Father wants us to do. There may have been a long period during which we ignored God before we finally surrendered to his persistent call and turned to him, accepting the redeeming love of Jesus and being cleansed and restored as a result. The critical issue is to love Jesus sufficiently that we earnestly seek to be his obedient disciples in all aspects of our lives.
Again we refer to the first letter of John (2: 5): “But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them.”