Study in John’s Gospel. Presentation 64. Glorifying God Chap 15v8-11. Presentation 64. Introduction.
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What do you want to be remembered for? What accomplishments do you place greatest store by? What epitaph would you be happy to see carved on your gravestone? I can’t think of anything more satisfying than,
“This man/woman glorified God”?
The passage before us today deals with this matter. It is linked to four elements, each of which should be abundantly visible in the life of the Christian. They are fruitfulness, love, obedience, and joy. Each reflects a central theme in this chapter and as such requires our careful attention.
This man glorified God
This man glorified God
The first of these ideas is fruitfulness, which Jesus highlights by saying, “In this is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit”. The thought is that if we are Christ's and abide in Him, then we’ll live fruitful Christian lives and God will be glorified in our fruitfulness. Moreover, the fact that we are
fruitful will be a proof that we are indeed Christ's disciples.
But what is meant by fruitfulness? You see if we
define fruit wrongly, we are inevitably going to
discourage some Christians. If we identify
fruitfulness exclusively as bringing others
to Christ, then we’ll discourage any who,
for whatever reason, have known little
success in this department, and we will make
them feel they are useless.
Of greater importance to God is the fruit listed in Galatians 5:22-23: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control.,” the fruit of Christ's own character. It is his love, joy, peace, etc., within the Christian that counts. Yes, conversions are important but the all-important starting point
is Christlikeness of life.
Without it, any evangelistic effort is like an apple
tree trying to produce other apple trees without
first having produced apples. It cannot be done in
that manner. First, the apple tree must produce
apples the seeds of which will then in turn
produce other apple trees.
Jesus says “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” v9.Jesus begins with a declaration of love: “I have loved you.” These are wonderful words to hear at any time. And if we find them wonderful, when spoken by mere men and women to one another, how much more wonderful they will sound when spoken by the
Lord Jesus Christ.
This is an astonishing love, for there is
nothing in us that could evoke it.
We are sinners. Jesus is holy. We have
rebelled against God. Nevertheless,
Jesus loves us!
The mystery of God setting his love upon particular men and women is unfolded in Deut.7v6-8. “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people. But because the LORD loved you…” Can you take that in? He loves us because he loves us.
In addition, so great was his love for us that
the Lord became a man just like us save for
our sinful natures.
In marriage ceremonies we often hear the words,
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his
mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and
they shall be one flesh”. Gen. 2v24
Jesus incarnation provides a telling parallel. The eternal Son left his Father's home in heaven to come to earth to woo and wed his bride, the church. He redeemed her through his death upon the cross. From incarnation to the crucifixion Jesus in his assumed humanity became like us - so that we might become like him – and grow in Christlikeness of character.
Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”. v13. And the greatest example of such love is the death of Jesus himself.
Not only do we find a sublime declaration of love in our passage but a remarkable measure of that love. Jesus says, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you.” I suppose many of us would be happy to know that Jesus loved us just a little bit or even with the best of human love, but Jesus says we are loved with the greatest love of all –
the love his Father had for him.
Is there a greater love than that? No! This
love is without beginning or end. It is
without measure. It is without change.
It is with this love that Christ loves us.
And as we "remain" in this remarkable love,
we will glorify God!
And how exactly do we remain in his love? It is at this point that the emphasis changes to keeping his commandments. John tells us in his first epistle that, “His commandments are not burdensome”1 John 5v3. Jesus himself said,
“My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” Matt. 11v30.
What then is the problem? Is it that we are not really
as anxious to obey Christ's commandments as we would
like to think? What happens to us is precisely what
happened to Peter.
Following his denial and after Jesus resurrection,
notice the particular means that Jesus employed to
re-commission Peter to fruitful service.
Peter had denied Jesus three times and so Jesus used a threefold pattern to re-commission him. He asked, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" Jn. 21v15-17
Peter was aware of his recent failure, but he did
love Jesus and so he replied in what I believe
was an air of genuine humility,
" Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."
Jesus replied, "Feed my lambs."
After a short time Jesus asked Peter again, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?"
Peter replied that he did. And again Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."
Finally, the Lord asked Peter a third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" This time we are told Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my sheep"
Why was Peter hurt? He was hurt because the third repetition reminded him of his threefold denial this awakening true guilt for what he had done. Moreover, the questioning suggests that perhaps, Peter's first effusive answer couldn’t be taken at face value. Peter was prone to blurt something out, without thinking it through?
Discipleship is costly. Obedience is costly.
Did Peter mean he loved Jesus enough
to continue to fulfil this or any other
commandment of Christ until his
life's end? Surely, that was the
Peter, like us, did not enjoy being reminded of his weakness. Why do we need to be reminded? In order that we might be motivated by love. That is the point of the subject repetition in this passage.
"If you love me, keep my commandments" 14v15.
"Whoever has my commands and obeys them,
he is the one who loves me" 14v21.
"If anyone loves me, he will obey my
"If you obey my commands, you
will remain in my love" 15v10.
Genuine love expresses itself in
obedience despite great obstacles
But notice that even as we are reminded to obey all that Jesus has given us by way of instruction, Jesus points out that he is asking of us no more than he has already asked and given of himself.
“Just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love,"
is his comparison.
We can be encouraged by this, knowing that the One who instructs us has himself set the pattern and will give us strength to do as he requires.
The fourth and final element that is to be in us and by which the Father shall be glorified is that of joy. Christ adds it, surely, to indicate that his commandments actually lead in precisely the opposite direction from being grievous. They lead to the fullness of joy. Jesus says, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" v.11.
Joy is to be attained as a result of the things Jesus
had been teaching. This is the reason why the
Christian must remain in him, so that the views,
outlook, and ambitions of the Master will be
those of the disciples as well.
This is the reason for the twofold repetition of the word “joy” first, “My joy” and then “your joy.” Jesus’ joy was a wonderful thing, for it was not deterred by suffering or any other circumstance. In fact, it rejoiced in hardship; for we read that Jesus "for the joy set before him endured the cross" Heb. 12v2.
Where did He find that joy? The answer is in his intense desire to do the will of his Father.
Jesus says he wants his joy to remain in us. It does not do so automatically. Many things can destroy it - sin, disobedience and unbelief. In David’s great penitential Psalm written after his adultery with Bathsheba, he cries out to God, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation"
Ps.51v12. It was not that his salvation was lost,
but its joy had evaporated.
When sin and disobedience cloud the believer’s
fellowship with God then joy evaporates. The
hymn-writer asks the question, “Where is the
blessedness I knew when first I saw the Lord?”
Our enjoyment of God evaporates and awaits
our penitential return, our abiding in Christ.
For when we abide in him his joy abides also.
Jesus wants his followers to experience abounding joy. This is the meaning of the clause "that your joy might be full." There is too much defeat in the lives of God’s people. We to readily settle for a Christian life that is half-hearted and for an obedience that is selective and a commitment that is cool. It does not need to be that way. Jesus wants us to enter into a joy that is full.
When joy, linked to fruitfulness, love, and obedience, is found in the life of a Christian, all can see it and know that the source is divine. And as a result God is glorified. For God is seen to have done something in our lives that is supernatural. Is that the great longing of your heart and mine?