There are two things I believe about basics human desire. I believe that all people want to be happy. And I believe that all people want to be loved. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that everything we do in life is consciously or unconsciously designed to find happiness and love.
Sadly though, we humans have a great capacity to seek happiness and love in things that will not actually make us happy or bring us love. But the great thing is that God will provide us true happiness and love if we seek them in him.
If that’s so, how does it work? A lot of people for many centuries have expended great amounts of energy to find happiness and love without a high level of success. So, is this just another snake oil job?
The greatest man who ever lived can show us the path to these priceless treasures. Think about it. A man who was acquainted with grief, and yet had the deepest joy ever. And that same man was hated and unjustly murdered, yet had the highest love ever. Such a person as this must know the way to true happiness and love. He does. His name is Jesus.
The night before Jesus was to face a kangaroo court and be executed by a Roman Govener who knew he was innocent, he spoke to his closest friends in a private conversation. He wanted to encourage and comfort them because he knew what would happen the next day.
In the Gospel of John chapter 15, we hear some of that conversation Jesus gave to encourage his disciples. John 15:9-12 reads:
“As the Father has loved me, so have I 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. These things I have spoken to you, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Jesus loves his disciples with a love that is so real, that even though later that night they desert him and deny him, he still loves them. This love that Jesus has for his disciples is as deep as the love the Father has for him. It is infinite. That’s not a word we can easily wrap our minds around, but it is the only word to use to describe the love of the Father for Jesus and the love of Jesus for his disciples.
The trajectory of Jesus’ encouragement in these verses is shaped in three directions: (1) Jesus loves his disciples like the Father loves him. (2) Experiencing the full dimensions of Jesus’ love (abiding in his love) is conditioned on a loving response to his love in obeying his commandments. (3) Recognizing and embracing Jesus’ love results in his disciples having a joyful experience of Jesus’ joy living in them.
The Power of the Love of Jesus
Jesus compares his love for his disciples with the love the Father has for him. The inter-trinitarian love of God is a love that knows no boundaries. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father with an infinite, eternal love through the Holy Spirit. This love is a great mystery. Its dimensions are inexhaustible. Yet, Jesus compares that love with his love for the believer. Just to pause and contemplate that love for a few seconds overwhelms the mind and heart. This inexpressible love helps us in at least two ways.
First, the love of Jesus helps us during difficult times in our lives. Everybody faces pain, sorrow and suffering. It’s part of life. It is easy to become discouraged when we face difficulties. Jesus’ love for us helps us to persevere in the face of overwhelming circumstances. As we meditate on his love and the grace of his love, we are encouraged.
Second, the love of Jesus for us motivates us to respond with love to him. The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:10,19 that we did not first love God, but that he first loved us. Our love is a response to his love. When we truly love him, we will want to live for him and obey his commands. As we grow in our love for Jesus, we grow in living in his will and fulling his plan. We then love other people and serve them in the name of Jesus.
Loving and Obeying Jesus
Because Jesus loves us, we are to abide in his love. What does that mean? How can we abide, remain, in his love? He tells us in the next verse. We abide in Jesus’ love by keeping his commandments just as Jesus kept the Father’s commandments and abides in his love. The experience of Jesus’ love comes in the response to his love.
Keepng Jesus’ commands is not burdensome. It’s not a way we earn his love. We can’t earn his love. It is a loving response to his prior love for us. Keeping Jesus’ commands demonstrates our love for him. It is the outward manifestation of an inward longing for him. This is especially true when obedience is hard and challenges the limits of our comfort zone. We do not always succeed in obedience, but we always long for it.
The Joy of Jesus in the Heart
The realization of the dimensions of Jesus’ love moves us towards joy in him. He says here in this passage that it is actually his joy in us. Jesus lets us know what his love is like so that his joy may fill our hearts. The struggle for happiness is a mighty struggle. We all fight that battle every day. It is easy to get distracted and think that happiness can be found in the abundance of things or experiences. But the desire for happiness only finds its true fulfillment in a love relationship with Jesus.
How many ways do we try to find our happiness each day in the things of life? Many of the things we seek do bring a measure of happiness. And some of them God does provide for our enjoyment. But no one or any thing can sufficiently fill our need for happiness as does a relationship with Jesus.
It is Jesus’ love that truly satisfies. And it is his love that frees us to really love others. In Jesus we can become humble givers and not merely selfish takers. Joy overflows in genuine relationship.
So take courage. If you are a follower of Jesus, he loves you. No matter your struggle, your desire for love and happiness is satisfied in knowing Jesus. If you are not a follower of Jesus, it would be a good move to trust him with your life. He died for your sin, he took your place. He showed his love. He gives his joy. He is the way to find true happiness and love.