6 May 2010

John 15:9-11

"As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love." (v.9-10)


Jesus knew that he would soon be given over into the hands of those who wanted to kill him and had therefore given his disciples his final teachings, called 'The Farewell Discourse'. Two of the major themes within the teaching are 'abiding in Jesus' and 'love'. Here, Jesus connects the themes with keeping God's commandments.

When you hear the words 'keeping God's commandments' do you think of a bunch of 'thou shalt nots'? Do you think of a grim-faced God or grim-faced church people wagging their finger at you, eager to tell you what you did wrong this time?

Far from being something negative, God's commandments represent the covenant between God and God's own people. A covenant is a contract and there are some people who compare God's commandments with a marriage contract between God and humanity. Both parties are expected to keep up their end of the bargain, but of course people don't. Long ago, God promised never to break God's end of the contract and Christians believe that through Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension that deal is sealed for all eternity.

Yet, although human beings can't keep up their end of the contract, followers of Jesus are still called to try to obey God's commandments. And today's passage suggests that it is through Jesus, through 'abiding' in his life-giving spirit that a person is given the strength to try. When a disciple looks to Jesus' life on earth as a model for human behaviour something happens that empowers the person to ask Jesus for the ability to imitate him. Jesus' followers become more able to draw on the help he has to offer.

The final blessing is that Jesus also calls individuals to abide in his love and to become like the one whom they seek to imitate. The more you dwell in God's love the more you will know yourself to be loved. And the more you know yourself to be loved the more you will want to pass on that love with joyful abandon.

To Ponder

What is the connection between the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) and Jesus' new commandment to his followers to love one another?

What does it mean to 'abide in Jesus'?

How might 'abiding in Jesus' increase a person's ability to follow God's commandments?

Bible notes author

The Revd Pam Garrud

Pam is an ordained minister in the Methodist Church in Britain. In August 2009, Pam and her London-born husband Trevor moved to Pam's native United States for family reasons.