Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Acts 15:7-21 + John 15:9-11
“If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love ….”
The long discourse of Jesus at the Last Supper, recorded in chapters 13-17 of John, has several themes which Jesus touches upon over and over again. Jesus weaves these themes together, as if his words on this solemn night formed a tapestry of the Good News.
Jesus’ words—“If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love”—focus our attention on two of these themes: “my commandments” and “my love”. Sometimes in a culture that encourages us to base our actions on our feelings, and which defines love as nothing more than a feeling, “commandments” and “love” seem directly opposed. Some say, in fact, that the person who truly loves does not need commandments: in this case, we could understand Jesus saying, “If you remain in my love, you will keep my commandments.” But Jesus here says the opposite.
Jesus claims in this verse that if you keep His commandments, you will remain in His love. His commandments are a means to the end of His love. This is not to say that the opposite is not also true. But Jesus’ words today remind us of the importance of His commandments, and that all of His commandments are in fact nothing more than commands to love God fully, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself.