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John 15:12-15

12. This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you. 13. Greater love hath no one than this, that one should lay down his life for his friends. 14. You are my friends, if you do the things that I command you. 8383     “Tout ce que je vous commande;” — “all that I command you.” 15. Henceforth I will not call you servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you all things that I have heard from my Father.

 

12. This is my commandment. Since it is proper that we regulate our life according to the commandment of Christ, it is necessary, first of all, that we should understand what it is that he wills or commands He now therefore repeats what he had formerly said, that it is his will, above all things, that believers should cherish mutual love among themselves. True, the love and reverence for God comes first in order, but as the true proof of it is love toward our neighbors, he dwells chiefly on this point. Besides, as he formerly held himself out for a pattern in maintaining the general doctrine, so he now holds himself out for a pattern in a particular instance; for he loved all his people, that they may love each other. Of the reason why he lays down no express rule, in this passage, about loving unbelievers, we have spoken under the former chapter.

13. Greater love hath no one than this. Christ sometimes proclaims the greatness of his love to us, that he may more fully confirm our confidence in our salvation; but now he proceeds further, in order to inflame us, by his example, to love the brethren. Yet he joins both together; for he means that we should taste by faith how inestimably delightful his goodness is, and next he allures us, in this way, to cultivate brotherly love. Thus Paul writes:

Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling savor, (Ephesians 5:2.)

God might have redeemed us by a single word, or by a mere act of his will, if he had not thought it better to do otherwise for our own benefit, that, by not sparing his own well-beloved Son, he might testify in his person how much he cares for our salvation. But now our hearts, if they are not softened by the inestimable sweetness of Divine love, must be harder than stone or iron.

But a question is put. How did Christ die for friends, since

we were enemies, before he reconciled us, (Romans 5:10;)

for, by expiating our sins through the sacrifice of his death, he destroyed the enmity that was between God and us? The answer to this question will be found under the third chapter, where we said that, in reference to us, there is a state of variance between us and God, till our sins are blotted out by the death of Christ; but that the cause of this grace, which has been manifested in Christ, was the 8484     See volume 1. In this way, too, Christ laid down his life for those who were strangers, but whom, even while they were strangers, he loved, otherwise he would not have died for them.

14. You are my friends. He does not mean that we obtain so great an honor by our own merit, but only reminds them of the condition on which he receives us into favor, and deigns to reckon us among his friends; as he said a little before,

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love,
(John 15:10.)

For the grace of God our Savior hath appeared, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and righteously, and piously, in this world,
(Titus 2:11.)

But ungodly men, who, through wicked contempt of the Gospel, want only oppose Christ, renounce his friendship.

15. Henceforth I will not call you servants. By another argument he shows his love toward the disciples, which was, that he opened his mind fully to them, as familiar communication is maintained among friends. “I have condescended,” he says, “far more to you than a mortal man is wont to condescend to his servants Let this be regarded by you, therefore, as a pledge of my love toward you, that I have, in a kind and friendly manner, explained to you the secrets of heavenly wisdom which I had heard from the Father.” It is indeed a noble commendation of the Gospel, that we have the heart of Christ opened (so to speak) in it, so that we can no longer doubt of it or perceive it slightly. We have no reason for desiring to rise above the clouds, or to penetrate into the deep, (Romans 10:6, 7) to obtain the certainty of our salvation. Let us be satisfied with this testimony of his love toward us which is contained in the Gospel, for it will never deceive us. Moses said to the ancient people,

What nation under heaven is so highly favored as to have God near to them, as God talked, with you this day?
(Deuteronomy 4:7.)

But far higher is the distinction which God hath conferred on us, since God hath entirely conveyed himself to us in his Son. So much the greater is the ingratitude and wickedness of those who, not satisfied with the admirable wisdom of the Gospel, fly with proud eagerness to new speculations.

All that I have heard from my Father. It is certain that the disciples did not know all that Christ knew, and indeed it was impossible that they should attain to so great a height; and because the wisdom of God is incomprehensible, he distributed to each of them a certain measure of knowledge, according as he judged to be necessary. Why then does he say that he revealed all things? I answer, this is limited to the person and office of the Mediator. He places himself between God and us, having received out of the secret sanctuary of God those things which he should deliver to us — as the phrase is — from hand to hand. Not one of those things, therefore, which related to our salvation, and which it was of importance for us to know was omitted by Christ in the instructions given to his disciples. Thus, so far as he was appointed to be the Master and Teacher of the Church, he heard nothing from the Father which he did not faithfully teach his disciples. Let us only have an humble desire and readiness to learn, and we shall feel that Paul has justly called the Gospel wisdom to make men perfect, (Colossians 1:28.)


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