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“But Jesus aware of this, said to them, ‘Why are you bothering the woman? For she has done a good deed for Me’” (Matthew 26:10).
In the Greek New Testament two words are translated as good—agathos and kalos. The former points to a deed or activity beneficial in its effect. The latter has to do not just with the quality of the action, but the attitude. When the woman poured the expensive perfume over the head of Jesus, what he commends is the kalos, the good spirit by which she performed her good deed. It’s a very real possibility, Christian, that you can be right, but hold it forth in a way that is wrong, mean-spirited, unattractive, and divisive. As followers of Christ, we should seek to do good things, but doing them in a good way is even better.
“This I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:17).
For the third time in this upper room discourse, Jesus has commanded his disciples with the imperative to love one another (13:34; 15:12). It is not a divine suggestion, applicable when appropriate, but a mandate from the Lord. If even the most godless reprobate loves the lovable, then, is it not the intentional way we love the unlovable that separates us, and gives us our distinctive Christ-like presence in the world? Perhaps, like his first disciples, we need the frequent reminder that even when we were the unlovable, Christ loved us; that if such love was extended to the likes of us, the only fair and appropriate response is to offer it to others.
“This is My commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Jesus’ use of the singular “commandment,” after referencing the plural “commandments” in verse 10, should be noted. A hallmark characteristic of true discipleship is the desire to follow his teachings; knowing these provide, not only the guidelines and parameters necessary to living a life pleasing to him, but also the kind of life that gives credibility to the testimony of our faith. In living them out, and holding them forth before an unbelieving world, all commandments must emerge from a loving faith, not a hateful religion. This is the supreme commandment.
“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11).
The One, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2), offers forth the key to unlocking the joy he has known in his life and ministry, even a life and ministry that entailed a cross. A joy that transcends even the most challenging circumstances is to be realized in a life of obedient service to the honor and glory of the Father. The joyful sense of enrichment, purpose, and completeness we all desire cannot be had apart from a life that labors to please God.
“One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life” (Psalm 27:4).
As David is about to be attacked by a formidable foe, the greater enemy to be faced is his own fear. Fear is the warning that danger, real or perceived, is near. This very human emotion can be either positive or paralyzing. In such circumstances, David prays not for victory over or destruction of his enemies, but the presence of the Lord. The house of the Lord is a common metaphor for the presence of God. With the confidence that the Lord is near, fear recedes.
“When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner’” (Luke 19:7).
We would do well emulate Jesus, who acted as a guest in seeking to bring another to the redeeming purposes of God. Why would we ever consider doing otherwise while being a guest among others? Consider how you conduct yourself while traveling in a foreign land or a city with which you are unfamiliar; are you not kind, courteous, and curious? As a people who live as “aliens” and “strangers” (1 Peter 2:11) in this present world, perhaps acting as guests would improve the possibilities of bringing others with us along the way to another land.
“If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love” (John 15:10).
For any who would be disciples of Jesus, the desire to know, actuate, and perpetuate his teachings is a foundational characteristic. Fortunately, when it comes to the life of faith, we are not left to our subjective whims or intuitive desires. Just as those first disciples were the beneficiaries of Jesus’ in-person teachings, to instruct and guide them in their new found journey, we are no less the beneficiaries of the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, as he compelled them to write down the things they had seen and heard in the life of Jesus. These writings have become our objective, canonical standard in all matters of faith and practice.
“Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you; remain in My love” (John 15:9).
The admonition of Jesus—to remain, abide, dwell, or make your home with—is an appeal to just “relax” in his love. There should be no speculative preoccupation with whether or not you are loved by God. We don’t labor to try and earn his love; it is to be understood as a given that you are loved. As much as I never have to wonder if inside the walls of my home I am loved, with far greater certainty we can be confident of the Father’s love. The challenge is to remain in his love, for there are a great many things outside of his love seeking daily to hijack your affections.
“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” (John 15:8).
If trees could speak and one were to proclaim itself an apple tree, would you believe it, even if it bore no fruit? Or if it, instead, bore oranges? Of course not! Only a superficial and gullible people buy into what others continue to say, despite the absence of visible, corresponding proof. Acknowledging Jesus is Lord is no insignificant declaration, and he will, eventually, be recognized as such by everyone who has ever lived (Philippians 2:10-11), but fruit-bearing is the proof of an actual conversion experience.
“I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
All New Testament references to fruit-bearing carry a grammatical emphasis on an activity that is continual and ongoing, as opposed to occasional and sporadic. The fact of the matter is, quantitatively, a great deal of religious activity can be done apart from Christ. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), however, which bears witness to Christ in you, is a qualitative work best revealed when his Lordship dominates every facet of life.