These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a Man lay down His life for His friends.
Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Jesus had repeated His message about love and obedience many times. In v. 11 of this passage, He emphasized again that His joy and ours both depend on our obedience to Him.
I have noticed that people who claim to be believers, but who are not walking with the Lord, often turn very derisive and bitter about the things of God. They mock the Bible, mock those who adhere to it, mock those who pray and trust God through trials. “God has never done anything for me!” they state, without equivocation.
I remember asking a client several years back, “Well, what have you done for God?” He grew angry and agitated, claiming that he owed God nothing. As I recall, he never came back. I hope he found some kind of peace, because he was a miserable person.
“No one is more miserable than the Christian who for a time hedges in his obedience. He does not love sin enough to enjoy its pleasures, and does not love Christ enough to relish holiness. He perceives that his rebellion is iniquitous, but obedience seems distasteful. He does not feel at home any longer in the world, but his memory of his past associations and the tantalizing lyrics of his old music prevent him from singing with the saints. He is a man most to be pitied; and he cannot forever remain ambivalent.” (Carson)Carson, Blue Letter Bible
I think that quote perfectly describes those who want to have a foot in both camps.
Jesus made an astonishing statement: “I want you to love each other in the same way that I have loved you!”
I wonder if that was hard for some of the disciples to hear. Were any of them jealous of John, the designated protector of Jesus’ mother, Mary? Were they annoyed with Peter for his denial of Christ? Of course, these things hadn’t happened yet, but it wouldn’t be long, and I’m sure they had some soul-searching to do as they recalled Jesus’ words.
I have, sadly, watched a church I loved change into something I could no longer support. Friendships disappeared. There was a lot of anger, hurt, misunderstanding and ugly accusations. It is heartbreaking when God’s people turn against each other. It certainly doesn’t instill joy in anyone’s heart!
Then, Jesus uttered one of His most-quoted statements: “Great love has no man than this, that a Man lay down His life for His friends.” Jesus knew that He would do that, in the coming days. He knew He would suffer and die to provide the way of salvation for all mankind. He also knew that Satan would be very busy, sowing seeds of doubt and discord, creating lies, that would lead to confusion and hatred. How His heart must have broken, even then, for what He knew was coming. He knew that the disciples would need to love each other, support each other, perhaps be willing to die for each other, in the coming years.
Again, Jesus repeated that obedience was the requirement for friendship with Him.