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Sunday, May 5, 2019

posted May 5, 2019, 3:37 PM by Site Administrator

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YOU ARE MY FRIENDS IF YOU DO WHAT I COMMAND

 

John 15:11-27

Key Verse 15:14

 

You are my friends if you do what I command.

 

First, My command is this: Love each other (11-13).Look at verse 11. Let’s read this verse together:

 

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

 

It is really amazing that Jesus who was going to die had deep joy in his heart. How could he have such joy even right before his painful death? Jesus says in verse 10, If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. He had such joy because he remained in God's love by obeying his command. That was his secret of having deep joy even in such a troublesome moment. Despite such challenges, pains and difficulties, he was not defeated; instead, despite such challenges, he still remained in God’s love by obeying his commands. The harder the challenges were, the more joyful he was as he obeyed God's command. Even in unrelenting pain, Jesus had his heart’s consolation that he had not denied the words of the Holy One. (Job 6:10) Then, Jesus wanted his disciples to have the same joy. That’s why he has been telling them about remaining in his love by obeying his commands. If they did so, they too would have such joy in their hearts; even when things went rough, even when things were falling apart, still they would have their heart’s deep consolation that they had not denied the Words of the Holy One. Joy is the real essence of Christian life. Many people think that they must be joyful because they are Christians. So, they try to be joyful by doing a lot of fun activities. But the Christian’s real joy comes from remaining in Jesus’ love by obeying his commands. Jesus says, I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. Remain in Jesus’ love by obeying his commands, and you will have deep joy in your heart. 

 

Look at verses 12 and 13. Let’s read these verses together: 

 

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

 

So far, Jesus used the words, my commands obeying them,” plural, not singular. There are many commands Jesus gives his disciples, and in most cases, these commands are personal – specific commands written in that person’s heart. But now Jesus gives us this one command openly, publicly for all his disciples to keep – love each other. 

 

At first, we expected that Jesus would command us to do something really big, such as conquering the whole world with the gospel. But Jesus’ command here is very plain - Love each other as I have loved you. Here, the phrase, as I have loved you, shows that this command is for those who have experienced Jesus' love. Judas Iscariot could not be the recipient of this command because he did not know Jesus' love; he had rejected it, because he loved something else, money. That's why this command is not for the unbelievers, but the disciples who experienced his love personally; they know Jesus' love, and thereby, they can now exercise it to each other. If you experience Jesus' love personally, then, Jesus wants you to obey this command: Love each other as I have loved you.

 

This makes us think about our Christian life – it is not about doing all kinds of Christian things; instead, it is about loving each other. This love is not about feelings or emotions as people think, but it is agapeo, God’s love, which is sacrificial and unconditional. How can we love each other with God’s love? You know what love is about. Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast; it is not proud; it is not rude. It is not self-seeking; it is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but it rejoices with the truth. It always trusts, always protects, always hopes, always perseveres. This is how we can love each other in the church. This requires us of sincere struggle. When we love each other this way in the church, our church becomes indeed the kingdom of God here on earth, and we are really happy and satisfied with our Christian life. Then, how much should we love each other? Jesus says, Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. That’s how Jesus loved us, and that much Jesus wants us to love each other – that much commitment to each other, that much commitment to the church. 

 

When we think about this command, Love each other as I have loved you, we can see Jesus' heart's desire for them to form a unity of love among themselves. Thus far, under his care, they were one, and as one army, they could serve God's work together with Jesus. But now Jesus was going to leave them. And he desired that, even after his departure, even when he was not with them physically any longer, they would still remain as one army and in one mind and heart, they would serve God's kingdom work powerfully. If they loved each other, bearing with each other's weaknesses and shortcomings, they would remain as one army for God continually. Otherwise, they would have a lot of conflicts with each other, or they would fight with each other to occupy higher positions in the church, and they would be divided, scattered and then, destroyed. In Jesus' eyes, the most important thing the disciples must do was to love each other; only then, they could remain as his disciples. Otherwise, even if they became great and powerful, even after they did great work of God, they would be Satan’s toys, be divided, and then, destroyed. The most important thing for the disciples is to love each otherJesus issues only one command for your Christian life in the church, saying, If you obey my command, you will remain in my love, just as I obey my Father's command and remain in his love...My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Loving each other in the church is, therefore, the most important thing in our Christian life. When you love other brothers and sisters as Jesus has loved you, you remain in his love, forming the unity of love with other disciples in the church, and you will bear great fruit, showing yourselves as Jesus' disciples, and rendering glory to God. 

  

Second, You are my friends if you do what I command (14-17). Look at verse 14. You are my friends if you do what I command. Jesus is Lord of lords, and King of kings. He is the Creator God. We must obey him and bow down to him with a fearful and trembling heart. But Jesus considers us as his friends when we love each other. Let’s say, you go to heaven. There, while billions angels are standing, Jesus willacknowledge you as his friend before them, and he will introduce you to the angel, Michael, saying, Hi, Michael, this is my friend, Sam. And to Sam, he would say, This is the archangel, Michael. And Sam will not know what to do - shake hands with him, or bow down to him?!! We are just happy if we are allowed to enter his kingdom; we are glad if we are brought to his presence in his kingdom. But Jesus is happy to call us, Friends. People enjoy suspense and thrill in extreme sports – they crush themselves to the ground and bleed – they are crazy. But being called as Jesus’ friends is something really extreme beyond our wildest imagination. Maybe, this is the greatest reward we can imagine. This blessing will be given to us when we do what he commands - when we love each other as he has loved us; when we lay down our life for others in the church. It's something plausible; you can do it, and I can do it also. Jesus wants us to be his friends by doing what he commands us; Jesus wants us to be his friends by loving each other as he has loved us - we can be Jesus' friends now. Secure this blessing and be Jesus' friends!

 

When we think about this verse, You are my friends if you do what I command, we can see how much Jesus honors and respects those who obey his command and love each other; they are no longer ordinary people, but great people, worthy of honor and respect, who live for others, who even lay down their life for others in him. They are Jesus' disciples; they are children of God.

 

Look at verse 15. Let’s read this verse together:

 

15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

 

What kind of people are Jesus’ friends? They are the ones who know his business. Here, in verse 15, Jesus describes his friends as his business partners who know his business and thereby, with whom he can talk and discuss about his business. Servants who serve their master with a superficial form of obedience never know their master’s business – their master’s true concern, desire, plan and will. So the master cannot entrust really important things of his business to them, but only some peripheral jobs such as emptying trash cans or trimming the trees. But those who struggle to love each other in Christ come to know God’s business and grow up as God’s partners in His soul saving business. Jesus can hold serious business conferences with them, and even entrust his entire business to them. Then, these partners will do all they can do to promote Jesus’ business more and more, even if there is no supervisor over them. This shows us Jesus’ heart’s desire for us to grow up to be his friends. Some people obey so many commands such as keeping Sunday worship service, bringing offering, even fishing and teaching the Bible, but not as friends, but as servants; they don’t know why God asks them to make such dedication and commitment, but they do so out of the fear of punishment or as an obligation as Christians; or they think that they will get a ticket to heaven by doing such things. They never know God’s heart for them. Then, when they do not perform well, they feel condemned, and when they perform well, they become proud and self-righteous. They are like the older son in the parable of the prodigal son in Luke’s gospel. Jesus never wants us toremain as servants, because simply, servants cannot obey his commands as he desires. Jesus wants us to be his friends who know his heart’s desire, plan and will, and he wants us to choose to obey his commands out of our own choice because we love him. Psalm 103:7 reads: God made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel. What God revealed to Moses was different from what He revealed to the people of Israel. He revealed his ways to Moses, but his deeds to the people of Israel. The Israel people experienced God’s deeds – his power and miracles – they were excited and happy, but they did not know why God was doing so, and where God was guiding them. They just enjoyed God’s blessing and were excited to see such miracles. But God revealed to Moses why He was doing such things, and where He was guiding them, because Moses was His partner. 

 

Who are Jesus’ friends? Those who know His business. Even if Jesus is on a trip to a distant country, even if he does not supervise, they take his business as their own and strive all the way to serve and promote his business, even sacrificing their whole life for itWe have so many examples: Abraham was God’s friend; Moses was God’s friend; Paul was Jesus’ friend; Count Zinzendorf, John Wesley, William Booth,… The list goes on and on – such dedicated and great people, so many of them, just like stars in the universeDr. Samuel Lee was Jesus’ business partner. God did not need to bother him asking him to do this and that. Even if God left him alone and let him do whatever he wanted, Dr. Lee figured out what to do and how to do it all by himself and served the world mission even at the cost of sacrificing his entire life. Mother Barry is his business partner. When she accepted God’s world mission command, she gave her whole life to this mission, giving up her comfortable life as the princess of Mississippi, going to a poor, war-ridden country, Korea, at the age of 24, serving Kimchi-smelly Koreans. For this mission of serving Koreans, she even sacrificed her marriage dream. Why did she do so? Because Jesus’ business of saving souls was her own business. When we obey Jesus’ commands really, we come to understand Jesus’ heart; then, our obedience to his commands is no longer out of obligation or for a free ticket to heaven. At that time, Jesus calls us, Friends. When we love each other in Christ really, we are Jesus’ friends, and he entrusts his most serious business of saving souls in our hands. When we love each other in Christ, we are Jesus’ business partners, carrying out his mission here in the world. Are you Jesus’ friends?

 

Look at verses 16 and 17. Let’s read these verses together:

 

16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.

 

How happy we are to hear this passage: Jesus says, You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. We are here today not because of our own decision, but according to Jesus’ choice and his selection, and there cannot be any mistake. God does not make a mistake; he doesn’t say, Ooops! Now as Jesus called us and brought us here together, he will fulfill his purpose upon us. What is his purpose? Jesus says, I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Here, the expression, appointed you to go,… shows his mission assignment. We call this, God’s calling. None of us chose to be Jesus’ disciples. Yet, while we were still messing up, Jesus chose us to be his disciples, and he called us and appointed us to be his disciples to go and do God’s work on the college campuses. That’s why we live as Jesus’ disciples; that’s why we go to school and strive to take care of his sheep there. Jesus’ purpose in calling us and assigning us to the mission is so that we may go and bear fruit.What kind of fruits? When you go out to the mission field, you will know – there are so many souls waiting for God’s salvation, but dying in their sins. We are sent to go and find all these lost and wounded sheep and bring them back to Jesus, their shepherd. Jesus commands us to go and make disciples of all nations. 

 

How can we obey this will of Jesus? We must go! In order to bear fruit, what shall we do? We must go! Jesus appointed us to go to the mission field. Modern day, many Christian churches do not go, but ask people to come, as a result, they never bear fruit despite gorgeous looking church programs. They decrease, instead of increasing. We must go and find souls. If we stay home comfortably, we are disobeying Jesus’ purpose. We must get out of our cozy home, and go into the mission field, our campuses, and look for the lost, saying, Are you interested in studying the Bible? Jesus chose us and appointed us to go! Let’s go! And we will bear fruit—fruit that will last forever.

 

Third, If the world hates you… (18-27). Look at verses 18 through 21. Let’s read these verses responsively: 

 

18If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 18If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 

 

Jesus now foretold them that they would be hated in the world. People’s behavior of hating Jesus’ disciples is really illogical because they hate those who do only what is good and noble. Jesus’ disciples are those who struggle really hard to serve and love selfish, sinful and irksome people in the world, even sacrificing their own promising future, comfortable life, and even shedding tears for them. So, the world must love them and honor them. But instead, the people of the world hate them. Surely, they hate them without cause. Then, why do the people of the world hate the disciples? Jesus says that they hate them because the disciples do not belong to the world any more. Not because of anything they have done wrong, but simply because they do not belong to the world any longer, but to God. Because they do not belong to the world, they are different in every aspect – their words and actions are different; their perspectives and value system are different; their hopes and directions are different. No matter what the world suggests, they do not go by it or live for it. So, the world hates them. 

 

Jesus tells us that since people in the world hated him, surely they will hate us, his disciples also. In Jesus’ eyes, it is a part of our life as Jesus’ disciples. So when we are hated without cause, we should not be surprised too much. Jesus says, If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. Who persecute us, his disciples? Those who persecute Jesus! Who obey our teaching? Those who obey Jesus’ teaching. Many people say, I obey God alone, not you. But it is spiritual impossibility to love Jesus and hate his disciples. Either you hate Jesus and his disciples, or you obey Jesus and his disciples. Due to people's religious life, what people say and do look confusing, but to Jesus, there is nothing confusing. Those who hate Jesus hate his disciples no matter what they say or no matter how religious they are; those who obey Jesus obey his disciples. People do not want to obey God, so they disobey Jesus' disciples. But there are people who listen to us humbly and follow our guidance. They are Jesus’ sheep who obey his teaching. 

 

Jesus also says, They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. This is really remarkable. The Jews thought that they knew God because they believed the Bible, confessed that the God of Abraham is the only true God; they had worship service, brought offerings, and taught the Bible. But Jesus proclaims here that they did not know God. In verse 24, Jesus says, Yet they have hated both me and my Father. Before the truth came, it seemed that they were lovers of God. But when the truth came, their true identity was revealed as haters of God. Then, they felt so bad that they killed the person who told the truth instead of repenting. They were haters of God.

 

When we are persecuted, what should we do? How does God help us? Look at verses 26 and 27. Let’s read these verses together:

 

26When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

 

God sends us the Holy Spirit whenever we are hated and persecuted so that we can testify to the truth boldly. By faith, we have been eye-witnesses of Jesus’ birth, teaching, death and resurrection. God chose us to be Jesus’ disciples and has revealed to us all deep hidden secrets of the spiritual world, especially the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Why? So that we can testify to the truth, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to the people of the world. So, we must testify.

 

In today’s passage, we heard Jesus’ command to love each other. The disciples of Jesus are those who love each other with Jesus’ love. We have Jesus’ encouraging promise: You are my friends if you do what I command. May God bless us to love each other and live as Jesus’ friends. May God bless us to take care of Jesus’ business as his friends.

 

One Word: You Are My Friends If You Do What I Command 

 

 

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