Greater Love Has No One Than This John 15:12-17 ESV Rob Harlan, Teaching Team

Greater Love has No One Than This

John 15:12-17

Intro: Pastor Colin Preached on John 15:1-11, which is on abiding with Christ, and I would encourage you to listen to it online if you haven’t heard it.  We are going to be doing the next five verses. Jesus here is giving some of His final remarks to his disciples and here in John, these words are not recorded anywhere else in the Bible, and they are RICH.  

For Context V6-11 “6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 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. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

  1. V12-13 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 
    1. The Old Testament says to love your neighbor as yourself, but Jesus takes this to a whole other level.  How did Jesus love His disciples? He gave His LIFE for them – ON the CROSS. That is what we are called to.  Complete self-sacrifice. 
    2. Not long ago I was privileged to preach on John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
    3. And this is the distinguishing trait of who we are if we are obeying this command.  John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
  1. V14-15 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
    1. V 14 Our relationship with Jesus is contingent on our obedience to Him.
      1. What about how we are taught in the Bible that our relationship to God is NOT based on our obedience?  That is Eph 2:8-9. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
      2. But if we miss the fact that intimacy and relationship (ie FREINDSHIP) come through obedience, we miss His purposes for us. It is unity. So in some ways, the intimacy of our relationship is contingent on our obedience.
      3. Look at the intended intimacy for us John 15:4 “Abide in me, and I in you.” 2 Cor 4:10 “10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (manifest= accomplish) This is more than friendship, it is marriage.  Time does not permit us to look at Eph 5, Rev 19,21, even Song of Solomon. 
      4. He can’t go to marriage yet they weren’t ready John 16:12-13  “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…”
    2. V15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you
      1. One of the benefits of this intimacy is the knowledge of the plan of God.  Sometimes we emphasis the mystery of what God is doing, but if you look in the Bible, the emphasis is on what God is REVIEALING.  God is letting us know all kinds of things about eternity, the last judgement, the end times, marriage, children, faith and on and on… 
      2. Why?  Because we are His FRIENDS.  It is there for all to read, but only those that are the friends of God will understand it.  He has told us what He is doing. Amos 3:7 “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.”
      3. Sometime God will even speak you specifically.  Lord, why am I going through this pain? God may actually tell you.  “To bring you closer to me…” or whatever …we have this picture of God up in heaven going, I’m not telling him ANYTHING.  He actually wants us to trust him.  But God wants to reveal to you MYSTERIES Jer 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” but He’s kind of waiting for you.  Waiting for what? Waiting for you to ASK. 
      4. He is NOT stingy, as it says here in V15 “for ALL that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
  1. V16-17 “16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
    1. I wonder why this verse is placed here and I think that perhaps right on the heels of being told that they are the friends of God who are being told the secret of the ages, they need something that is humbling.  This isn’t something that is because so smart, or so holy and so close to God. This is GOD’s choice and GOD’s work and they can take NO credit.
    2. But on the surface, they did choose Him.  What do you mean, go back to the beginning of the when they started following Christ? John 1:35-39 “35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.”  
    3. All the initiative, willing, and choosing is on the part of the disciples and Jesus here seems passive.  He is willing to go with the flow with what comes His way, rather than looking like He came to seek and to save. 
    4. Jesus takes this opportunity to reveal a mystery that whole thing was arranged, planned, and accomplished by…Him. He did that.  He was the one that wrote the prophecy and created John the Baptist and created them and caused them to see the way. It was Him, and somehow we know deep down that is has always been Him.  
    5. It may help to speak and act as if we have free will, as the Bible often does, but in the end, we know there is no one that truly has free will but God.  Our little brains cannot understand this, but it puts us in our place, doesn’t it? Where is boasting? It is excluded. 
    6. Otherwise, these 12 men could have rightfully said, “You know, I KNEW it. I just KNEW it, that Jesus was the Messiah, and I knew that because I just know these things. I know the Bible.”  NO. 
    7. They are going to need this humility because look at the rest of the verse. They were going to bear fruit and that fruit would be the fruit of the Spirit, the power of God, and the planting of His church.  They were going to go on to ask of God and God was going to LISTEN. WHATEVER you ask in my name, he will give. 
    8. V17 The point is loving.  He brings this all back around to the purpose because we can get all distracted with the choice of God, predestination, and praying so that whatever we ask, we’ll get.  But what is the point? It is for others. For love.  

Application

  1. Are you a friend of God?  14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.  I ask because the intimacy of friendship comes to those that are Obedient. 
    1. Are we in step with the Spirit (Gal 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit), or are you trying to just live life your own way? Going your own way.  That is if you are single, just pursing the person that YOU want to marry, and if you are unemployed looking for the job that YOU want to get and obeying God, 
    2. Are we obeying the way that WE envision and in the way WE want with OUR OWN strength.  But you didn’t choose God, so how can you choose obedience? You can’t take credit even for the choice of salvation, so having begun in the Spirit, do you seek to continue in the power of the flesh?  Gal 3:2- 3 “2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by[a] the flesh?”
    3. God Wants, Not just to save you, but to be your FRIEND.  But two people cannot be friends if one of these two individuals is always running away.  He is calling us into Himself and calling us up to level of purpose that we can’t even imagine if we would at least do the things that we know we should be doing and start there.  We get stuck in these ruts in life and it is really a rut of disobedience to God’s commands.  
  2. Are You Humble? I believe that once we get a hold of some of these things, we are going to need HUMILITY, because the time might come when you try and confess sin and there has been so much grace in your life that you can’t think of anything.  
    1. Also. The power of the Spirit may start working through you as a submitted believer so powerfully and so compelling, that it might be tempting to think you are smart.  We can start to think that we are good and that WE are bringing things about.  
    2. When He moves, remember this time of weakness, so that you don’t let it go to your head.  I try and tell myself that every time I preach and people get blessed. It wasn’t me, it was Him.  If He hadn’t chosen me, I wouldn’t even be a BELIEVER, let alone a preacher.  
  1. Are You Asking and Believing? He said that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.  
    1. It is my experience that everyone wants to rush to pull the power out of that verse.  It amazes me. The emphasis of scripture is ASKING, not so that God can take your desire away for the thing asked, but so that you can RECEIVE.  
    2. Why?  I wonder if it is because they want to get out of having to have great faith.  Why? Faith is HARD. Faith doesn’t FEEL GOOD to the flesh. 
    3. But we don’t WANT to TRUST, we want to KNOW!  We want to walk by sight! We want to know all the answers have everything planned out in our own power.  
  1. Matt 18:19 “19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” (church discipline)
  2. Matt 21:22 “22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (fig tree)
  3. Mark 11:24 “24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received1 it, and it will be yours.” (fig tree)
  4. John 14:13 “13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (believing in Christ’s identity)
  5. John 15:7 “7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (abiding with Christ)
  6. John 16:24 “24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (Jesus leaving for a time in death)
  7. 1 John 3:22 “22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” (confidence before God)
  8. 1 John 5:15 “5 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (confidence before God)
  1. To ask and receive takes FAITH, it takes trust.  Luke 18:8 “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”   Are we asking? Do we have faith? 
  1. You were created for Love. “17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another”  Radical Surrender 
    1. We have to notice here that He keeps bringing us back to love.  The purpose of God is not to just give us the things that we ask for.  Nor is it just save us from sin to get us out of Hell. 
    2. V12-13 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
    3. It is to return us to the purpose and identity to which we were created for in the first place. All the way back in the garden.  “Let us make man in our own image.” That image was love 1 John 4:8 “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” – self forgetful fullhearted devotion to God and others.  That was what made the garden paradise, not the beauty of Adam, or Eve, or the garden. Not opportunity, technological advancement or being entertained all the time.  Love. We were created to love and be loved and we do that via bearing fruit.  
    4. If we never realize that this is what we were created for then you are like an animal that forgot what it was made for.  Like a fish that thinks it is a duck. Using your life for yourself and your own career or entertainment is like using a screwdriver as a hammer, it never really works.  
  1. God is calling use to live for others, but Imagine if the point of living was just to be saved from Hell and we had no other purpose.  What would we even do with the time? I wonder sometimes if it would even matter with many of us, because we are just trying to survive, and there are going to be seasons like that.  But He wants to build our faith in those times so that we can learn to trust him and then go on from that place to THRIVE.  
  2. Practically it looks like any time that you sacrifice what would be best for you for what would be best for others is loving others.  
  3. Acts 20:24 “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”  That is love and that is bearing fruit.