ACTS 8:5-8, 14-17
1 Peter 3:15-18
Jesus has one consuming passion before He leaves this world; that His disciples would continue to live in love with Him. Given the fact that human memory is fallible and the will feeble, how could this relationship prosper beyond His death? In response to these human limitations, Jesus has apparently spelled out a practical way of loving Him, that is, to keep His commandments (Jn 14:15). He will send the Spirit of truth to teach and remind His disciples of His word. He also promises them gifts, namely, the love of the Father, the abiding presence of the Son and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:17, 20, 21).
It would seem that keeping Jesus' commandments is the same as loving Him, that is, if we want to love Jesus (or show our love for Him), all we need to do is to keep His commandments. A deeper reflection may reveal to us the rationale in a different manner. Could “keeping Jesus' commandments” be the result of loving Him? (that is, loving Jesus precedes the action of keeping His word). Is there a difference between the two? While the former is simply obedience to satisfy a conditional demand, the latter is a personal and affectionate relationship that gives rise to do what is requested willingly, pleasurably and spontaneously.
So what is this love for Jesus and how do we attain it? To the apostles, they had the privilege of being with Jesus and were acquainted with Him. To us, love for Jesus is a response to God's love for us, “we love because He first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19). Jesus is the greatest revelation of God’s love (rf 2 Corinthians 4:6-7) for He loves us to the point of giving up His own life for us (rf Jn 3:6, Rm 5:8). Through the writings (in the form of the canonical gospels) of the four evangelists who were inspired by the same Spirit of truth, we can share the apostolic treasure of knowing Jesus. As we grow in intimate knowledge of Jesus' words and deeds, we are able to receive Him into our hearts through faith; whereby faith leads to love.
When we love God, we will obey His commandments and His commandments will not be a burden to us (rf Mt 11:30), instead, they give us joy and peace (Ps 1:2, 112:1, 119:1-2). The Holy Spirit empowers us not only to want to obey but also to delight in doing so from our hearts, “To do your will, O God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart” (Ps 40:8). When we walk in life guided by the Holy Spirit and loving Jesus with the heart-knowledge, His promises to us are as true as they were to the apostles.