I’m sure most of my readers have heard of the “five love languages”. The idea is that different personality types appreciate different ways of love being expressed. These are:
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
The idea is that if we discover what someone’s “love language” is, we can better communicate our love for them. Now I am sure there is a certain amount of truth in this, but what would you say that Jesus’ “love language” was? In what way does he wish us to express our love for him, and in what way does he show his love for us?
You could probably find occasions in the gospels in which Jesus either ‘spoke’ or was ‘spoken to’ in each of those five languages. But in John 13-17, which I have been working my way through recently, two “love languages” stand out that don’t make it into the list of five.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
(John 14:15 ESV)
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.
(John 14:21a ESV)
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word,
(John 14:23a ESV)
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love,
(John 15:10a ESV)
The main way that Jesus asked his disciples to express their love for him was through obedience. This is not legalism, it is the outworking of love. Jesus has told us plainly that his love language is obedience, and if we love him, we will demonstrate it by keeping his commandments.
Jesus himself demonstrated his own love for the Father in exactly the same way:
… I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. …
(John 14:31 ESV)
Obviously, Jesus did not express his love for his disciples through obedience to them. He certainly gave them quality time, and performed acts of service for them. He promised that he would show his love by “making his home” with his disciples through the indwelling of the Spirit (John 14:23). But the ultimate way that Jesus expresses his love for us is through sacrifice.
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
(John 13:1 ESV)
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:13 ESV)
Jesus’ willingness to lay down his life demonstrated the extent of his love both for his Father, that he would obey even in this, and for us, that he would willingly die to save us.
I guess I would sum up these verses about love in John with two observations:
- Claiming to love Jesus is hollow if we are not willing to obey him.
- We can’t love like Jesus loved, if we are not willing to sacrifice on behalf of others.