The “Love Languages” of Jesus

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.

Concluding thoughts

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.

7 thoughts on “The “Love Languages” of Jesus

  1. Agreed those Scriptures on obedience do link with love. But to me when read in context, it doesn’t say; “If you love Me, you will strive with all your strength to obey Me and if you don’t obey Me then you don’t love Me”. If just says; “If …. will”. It sounds automatic to me.

    The analogy of marriage is pretty useful here. If a couple love each other, then the husband will not need to instruct his wife to cook the dinner every night. She just will. On their birthdays or anniversaries they will not need to instruct each other to buy presents. They just will!

    True – as Mark said, if we are not willing to obey Jesus then something’s clearly wrong. But the Scripture is clear – out of the heart flows …

    While our love for Jesus Christ may wax and wane and our obedience suffers – I find it wonderful to mediate on God’s never-failing love for us that doesn’t change whether we obey or we do not. Because when He looks at us, He sees His Son!

  2. Cook the dinner every night? should read… If a husband truly loves the wife she will not have to ask him to cook the dinner every night, he just will.

  3. There are two related issues you raise.

    The first is “how do we communicate love for Christ?” Your answer is, I believe, exactly right and beautifully put. The “love language” that communicates the most to him is obedience to him.

    I would differ with the view expressed by Dan that acts of obedience flow “automatically” as we love him. Some do, some are harder to carry out. Jesus’ struggle to obey the Father, as revealed in Gethsemane, was a real struggle that he had to fight and win. In that sense, the cross was not an easy act for Jesus, though out of love for the Father (and his own future joy) he submitted to its awefulness.

    Which leads to the second issue – what is Jesus’ “love language” to us. What we mean when we say that “sacrifice” was his primary love language really goes to the heart of things and is, frankly, a mystery that I haven’t yet really understood. I like to kid myself otherwise sometimes.

  4. thanks for the comments Al, very helpful about Jesus in Gethsemane. I am preaching soon on love and obedience so it is good to get some feedback on this.

  5. I am listening to “Deep In Love With You” by Michael W Smith and wanted to truly mean the words I sing to Yahweh. Reading this lifted off the burden of feeling that I do not love God enough. Thank you.

  6. Pingback: Sin and Shin–Motivations to Obey

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