The Shape of Love: The Cross [Sermon Audio & Text]

The Shape of Love: The Cross ✝

What follows is the audio and text of a sermon originally entitled, “Jesus: Do You Love Me?”1  shared at First Baptist Church in South Plainfield, NJ on August 19, 2018. However, due to potential confusion,2 I have since changed the title to what I believe to be the more fitting “The Shape of Love: The Cross”.

If interested, please see my translation of John 15:9-14 based on the Greek text. The text is footnoted and sources can be found in the bibliography at the end of this page.

Sermon Audio

Introduction: What Is Love? What Does Love Look Like?

Good morning. I greet you all in the Name of our loving Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is truly an honor and a privilege to stand before you today.

Today, I would like to talk about one of our society’s most beloved topics. It seems like it’s featured in almost every feature-length film, every television series, most musical selections, and in the most juicy of gossip. You know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about love. But what is love? And what does love look like?

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer (Ps 19:14, NASB).

Love According to Culture

What is love? What does love look like? In our culture, it seems that we toss around the word lovequite a bit.

Oh my goodness, you have to go to that new restaurant in town. I love their pasta. Oh wow look at you. I love that outfit. Would you look at this: you have such a lovely home; I love what you’ve done with the place. In our society, we “love” everything from singers to shows to shoes to sports teams to spaghetti.

It seems that this wonderful word has been watereddown. Whether it’s a car or cash or career, we love something that gives us something that we want. In the world, it seems that we love what pleases us. We love what makes us feel good. And, so, at times, we think to love someone means to please someone or, to make someone feel good.

Have you ever heard a sentence begin with the conditional phrase: “If you love me…” As in, if you love me, Mom, you would buy me a new phone. If you love me, you would support my dreams. Or, as I heard one TV character explain, “if you [love] me, you should… want what I want for myself.”[1] But is that what love looks like? What is love? What is the crux of love?

The True Crux of Love, The Crucial Shape of Love

In English, we use the word crux when describing the central point of an issue. What is most important is called the crux of the matter. And when defining love, I think we should look at the most important crux of history.

For, as you may recall, cruxis the Latin word for cross.[2] It’s from where we get the words excruciating and crucial. And we know how crucial Christ’s excruciating sacrifice was – for human history. In fact, it divides human history: B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini, which in Latin means, “the year of our Lord”).

When I look at a cross – like the one I usually wear around my neck – I notice that it consists of two beams: one longer vertical beam, connected to a shorter horizontal beam. This reminds me of when someone asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” (Mt 22:35).

In response, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:5 and says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment” (Mt 22:37-38). He continues by quoting Leviticus 19:18 and says, “the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Mt 22:39).

As it’s been said, the longer, vertical beam on a cross can serve to remind us that what is most important is to love God. In addition, the shorter, horizontal beam on a cross can serve to remind us that we are also to love our neighbors.[3] Cross-shaped, crucial love entails both love for God (vertical) and love for others (horizontal).

And, this kind of love means self-sacrificially striving for another’s ultimate good. In spite of what our culture tells us, in our text today, Christ tells us what true, crucial love looks like: it’s shaped like the Cross.

Context: The (True) Vine and The Branches

Today’s passage from the 15th chapter of the Gospel of John is found in the context of Christ’s teaching on the Vine and the Branches (Jn 15:1-17).

In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was often referred to metaphorically as a vine or a vineyard (Ps. 80:8–16Is. 5:1–727:2fJer 2:2112:0-11Ezk. 15:1–617:1-6;19:10–14Hos 10:1-2).[4]

In comparison to the nation of Israel, which had failed to fulfill its purpose of being the conduit through which God would bless all nations (Gen 12:2-3), Jesus claims to be the true Vine.[5] To abide in Jesus is to become a part of the true Israel, the true people of God.[6]

If a branch does not remain connected to the true Vine, it can no longer bear fruit – it no longer has life. Apart from the vine, a branch can do nothing (cf. Jn 15:5-6). So, Jesus urges His disciples to remain connected to Him, to remain in His love (Jn 15:9-10) – His cross-shaped, vertical-and-horizontal love.

Remaining in Christ’s Love

In verse 9, He says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” (Jn 15:9, NIV). Now though Christ does not love His disciples in the exact same way as the Father loves Christ,[7] He is saying that His love for them is based on His Father’s love for Him.[8] And, in response to Christ’s love for them, they should, in turn, remain in Christ’s love.

Remaining in Christ’s love entails remaining connected in fellowship with Christ, that they may continue to experience the love of Christ[9] – just like a branch needs to remain connected to a vine to experience nourishment.[10]

Remaining Obedient: Lovingly Christ-like

Now, at first glance, to remain in Christ’s love may sound like some sort of mystical experience.[11] But when speaking to His disciples here, Jesus makes things very concrete.

In verse 10 ,He says, “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (Jn 15:10, NIV). Just like remaining in His Father’s love entails obedience to His Father, remaining in Christ’s love entails obedience to Christ.[12]

All throughout John we read of Christ’s obedience to His Father’s commands (e.g. 4:34; 5:19ff.; 6:38; 8:29, 55; 10:17–18; 12:27–28; 14:31).[13] In the very last verse of the previous chapter, Jesus says that He does exactly what His Father commands (Jn 14:31).[14]

Earlier in the Gospel, Jesus says that His food is to do the will of Him who sent Him (Jn 4:34). In chapter 6, He says He came down from heaven not to do His own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Him (Jn 6:38). In the eighth chapter, Christ says that He always does what pleases the Father (Jn 8:29), and that He obeys His word (Jn 8:55).

And, the climax of Christ’s loving obedience to His Father is the Cross – where He laid down His life for our salvation (Jn 10:17-18,[15] cf. Jn 3:16).

Jesus sets the standard for loving obedience by lovingly obeying the commands of His Father. In the same way, His disciples ought to demonstrate their love by obeying the commands of Christ.[16]

Earlier in John, Jesus says that: if you hold to my teaching, then you are really my disciple (Jn 8:31).3 In the previous chapter, He says, “If you love me, keep my commands” (Jn 14:15, NIV cf. Jn 14:21).

Lovingly obeying Christ is what characterizes true disciples of Christ (13:35). Now, in this life, our loving obedience will never be perfect, but it should be habitual.[17] Christ-like love is a true Christian’s ID Card.[18]

Jesus, Do You Love Them, Too?

This does not mean that those who do not lovingly obey Christ are not loved by Christ. Paul reminds us that Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Rom 5:8-10).[19] And John has already written that God so loved the world, that He gave His One and Only Son… (Jn 3:16).

But can a child who has run away fully experience the depth of their parents’ love – from a distance? Christ wants us to remain close to Him through our loving obedience to His commands.

Christ’s Love: Knowing and Striving For Our Good

But someone might say, doesn’t this resemble the distorted “love” we come across in our culture. Isn’t Christ just saying, “if you love me, you should do what I want?” We must remember that love is self-sacrificially striving for another’s ultimate good.

Many times, we may say, “I gotta do what’s best for me.” And then we go and do something that we think is best for us. But the underlying assumption is that we actually know what is ultimately best .[20]

Has anyone else ever made a decision you thought was for the best, but then things didn’t turn out as well as you hoped? I know I have. Seems to me that God, with His perfect knowledge (Ps 94:10-111 Jn 3:20, etc.), is the only One qualified to know what is ultimately best for us.

Moreover, not only does God know what’s best for us, we can trust that God actively strives for what’s best for us. Paul reminds us that God works through all things for our good (Rom 8:28-29).

So, when our loving Lord commands something, it is not merely to give Him what He wants, or to make Him feel good. It is for our ultimate good.

Circular Love

All in all, in John, we see how love comes full circle.[21] God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son (Jn 3:16) and we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mt 22:35-39).

As the Father loved the Son, so the Son loves His disciples. And His disciples should demonstrate their love for the Son through obedience, as the Son demonstrates His love for the Father through obedience.

In sum, it seems to me that these first two verses demonstrate the vertical love of the cross – loving obedience to God in Christ.

Joyful Obedience?

Now, I don’t know about you, but, at first glance, obedience doesn’t sound all that pleasant. When we think of fun, we often think of being free to enjoy ourselves however we wish. To always have to obey someone else seems like the opposite of fun – it may even sound oppressive.

But, on the contrary, in verse 11, Jesus says, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11). Wholehearted loving obedience to Christ should bring us joy (cf. Ps 19:8119:97).[22]

“If you want to get the most out of the Microsoft Windows, does it not make sense to follow the instruction of Bill Gates – the creator of Microsoft Windows? If you want to cook a dish by Rachel Ray, does it not make sense to follow the instruction of Rachel Ray, the creator of the recipe? If you want to take care of your Civic, does it not make sense to follow the instruction of Honda – the creator of the Civic? If you want to get the most out of your life, does it not make sense to follow the instruction of the Creator of Life?”[23]

My brothers and sisters, if we affirm that God is the Source of all that satisfies (cf. James 1:17), the Source of all happiness, the Source of all joy, then why should we search for joy away from God?4

Jesus tells His disciples that just as His joy is based on His obedience to His Father (cf. Jn 4:34), so their joy will be based on their obedience to Christ.[24]

Vertical to Horizontal

Now, in verses 12 through 14, it seems that we transition from reading about the vertical component of cross-shaped love, which is love for God, to the horizontal component, which is love for others.

Here Jesus says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command” (Jn 15:12-14 NIV).

Again, this crucial love comes full circle: just as Christ will lovingly sacrifice Himself for their good, His disciples should lovingly sacrifice themselves for the good of each other (cf. 1 Jn 3:16) – as they lovingly obey His commands.

Obedient Friends?

But is this what friends do? Obey commands? I mean, sometimes I wish that my friends would obey me… but I certainly don’t expect them to. Does anyone have friends who obey their every command?

It’s always important not to impose modern concepts into ancient words. For there were several levels of friendship in the Greco-Roman world.[25] And, many of these different kinds of friendships were not as mutual as friendships are in our society today.[26]

When your cell phone rings what do you do before you answer? If you’re anything like me, you check the caller ID and see who is calling.

If someone with an 800 number is calling me from California, I’m probably not going to pick up. If it’s someone who is already in my contacts, I’ll probably answer – if I am not already in the middle of something.

However, if it’s my brother, or one of my parents, or my fiancée, I’m probably going to drop everything – and see what they need. Seems to me that we give different people different levels of access to us.

Moreover, aren’t there certain things that we only share with certain people? Aren’t we very particular about with whom we share our secrets?

I don’t know about you, but I can probably count the number of people I can truly talk to about anything on one hand. Seems to me that the closer we are to someone, the more comfortable we are confiding in them.

Similarly, in the Greco-Roman world, friends were people who could be trusted to keep a secret. Friends were confidantes.[27]

Jesus called His disciples friends instead of servants because, although friends and servants both may obey, masters often did not reveal all their business to their servants (cf. Jn15:15).[28] As one scholar notes: “The distinction Jesus draws between a servant and a friend is not the distinction between obeying and not obeying, but the distinction between not understanding and understanding.”[29]

As you may recall, in Exodus 33, Moses is described as a friend of God because the LORD would speak to him face to face (Ex 33:11).[30]

Similarly, the Lord Jesus has confided in His disciples, telling them everything that He received from the Father (Jn 15:15). As God revealed His word to Moses on Mount Sinai, Jesus – who is God in the flesh – revealed His word to His disciples. And though, like Moses, His disciples have greater access in their more intimate relationship to the Lord, they are still to obey His commands.[31]

Only “Friends”?

Also, this does not mean that Jesus only died for His friends. Again, we know that God so loved the entire world that He gave His One and Only Son Son (Jn 3:16). And Paul tells us in Romans 5 that Christ died for us even when we were enemies of Christ (Rom 5:10 cf. Mt 5:43-47).

Jesus just happens to be talking to His friends when explaining the greatest possible act of love: self-sacrifice.

Self-Sacrifice: How Far Would You Go?

Love is so much more than making someone feel good. It is so much more than a feeling. Isn’t it easy to love people when they are acting lovable? True love entails loving action even when we don’t feel like it.

A wife may not feel like working overtime when her husband gets laid off, but will a loving wife not do so? A husband may not feel like missing the big game to take care of his sick wife, but will a loving husband not do so?

Is their someone in your life for whom you would do almost anything? I am not a parent, but I can only imagine the great lengths a mother or a father would go for their child – especially if their child was in danger.

What would you do if your child was bitten by a crocodile? In northwestern India, a mother fought off a crocodile for 10 minutes until it released her daughter. Her daughter survived.[32]

What would you do if your child was bitten by a rattlesnake? In northern California, imitating something she saw on a TV Show, a pregnant mother actually sucked the venom out of her four-year-old son’s ankle and spat it out. After medical treatment, everyone was OK.[33]

What would you do if your twin toddlers were in the backseat of a driverless car that was rolling into oncoming traffic? Without a second thought, one mother in Massachusetts sprinted and slid her legs under one of the cars front wheels to stop the vehicle, before neighbors saved her children. She crushed her knee and injured her hip, but her daughters lived.[34]

In one of the most incredible stories I came across, a mother named Christina – a name derived from the Latin word meaning Christian – awoke next to her 18-month-old son with the fire-alarm blaring, surrounded by smoke and flames. The only way to escape was off of her second-floor balcony.

She told CBS Boston that she held her son Cameron in her arms, gave him a hug and a kiss, and told him that she loved him. Then, she jumped out the window with Cameron in her arms. Christina landed on her back and will never walk again, but her son survived with only a small bump on his head.[35]

If we had to, I bet many of us would do almost anything to save someone we loved who was in danger. My brothers and sisters, is this not what Christ did for us? Were we not in spiritual danger? Did He not endure an excruciating death to save us?

Do We Love Jesus?

He has already demonstrated His love for us by His sacrifice – which was for our ultimate good. Should we not demonstrate our love for Him by our obedience – which is for our ultimate good?

Do we love Jesus? If so, we are to obey His commands and exemplify Christ-like love. This love has both a vertical component – joyful, loving obedience to God in Christ – and a horizontal component – self-sacrificially striving for another’s ultimate good.

And this is not something we must do on our own strength. Paul reminds us in Galatians (Gal 5:22-23) that both joy and love are fruit of the Holy Spirit – who is lovingly given to us by God (Jn 15:2516:12-15Ti 3:5-6, etc.). So, it the love of God that enables us to exemplify godly love.

What is love? What does love look like? My brothers and sisters, true, crucial love is shaped like the Cross. May our loving Lord bless you and keep you.

Greek Text

9 καθὼς ἠγάπησέν με ὁ πατήρ, κἀγὼ ὑμᾶς ἠγάπησα· μείνατε ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ τῇ ἐμῇ. 10 ἐὰν τὰς ἐντολάς μου τηρήσητε, μενεῖτε ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ μου, καθὼς ἐγὼ τὰς ἐντολὰς τοῦ πατρός μου τετήρηκα καὶ μένω αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ. 11 Ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ἡ ἐμὴ ἐν ὑμῖν ᾖ καὶ ἡ χαρὰ ὑμῶν πληρωθῇ. 12 αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἐντολὴ ἡ ἐμή, ἵνα ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς. 13 μείζονα ταύτης ἀγάπην οὐδεὶς ἔχει, ἵνα τις τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ θῇ ὑπὲρ τῶν φίλων αὐτοῦ. 14 ὑμεῖς φίλοι μού ἐστε ἐὰν ποιῆτε ἃ ἐγὼ ἐντέλλομαι ὑμῖν.5


9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, as I have kept the commands of my father and remain in His love. 11 This is what I have told you so that my joy in you and your joy may be filled. 12 This is my command: that you should love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this: that one give up one’s life for their friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you


Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, Walter Bauer, and F. Wilbur Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Beasley-Murray, George R. John. Vol. 36. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002.

Borchert, Gerald L. John 12–21. Vol. 25B. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002.

Burge, Gary M. “John.” In Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, 3:840–80. Baker Reference Library. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995.

Carson, D. A. The Gospel according to John. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991.

Guthrie, Donald. “John.” In New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, edited by D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, and G. J. Wenham, 4th ed., 1021–65. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.

Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary & 2. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012.

Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Kruse, Colin G. John: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 4. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

Merriam-Webster, Inc. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003.

Michaels, J. Ramsey. The Gospel of John. The New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010.

Milne, Bruce. The Message of John: Here Is Your King!: With Study Guide. The Bible Speaks Today. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Morris, Leon. The Gospel according to John. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995.

Silva, Moisés, ed. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014.

[1] Michael Westen in Burn Notice Episode, “Signals and Codes” (2009). Michael Westen: “If you truly care about me, you should damn well want for me what I want for myself.”  Fiona Glennane: If that’s what you want… I’ll be with you. I’ll be with you.”

[2] “plural crux•es also cru•ces \ˈkrü-ˌsēz\ [Latin cruc-, crux cross, torture] 1718

1:      a puzzling or difficult problem: an unsolved question

2:      an essential point requiring resolution or resolving an outcome 〈the crux of the problem〉

3:      a main or central feature (as of an argument)” Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).

[3] – our fellow human beings, who are also made in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27) –

[4] Donald Guthrie, “John,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson et al., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1056. “The vine/vineyard metaphor is used frequently in the Old Testament.” Gary M. Burge, “John,” in Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, vol. 3, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995), 869. Bruce Milne, The Message of John: Here Is Your King!: With Study Guide, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 219.

[5] “But the vine ‘is burned with fire’ (Ps. 80:16). Israel has failed God in the long-term role she was called to fulfil, that of being ‘a light for the Gentiles’ (Is. 49:6), to bring God’s salvation ‘to the ends of the earth.’” Milne, 219.

[6] Guthrie, 869.

[7] “The Father’s love for the Son predates creation and is the reason he gave glory to the Son (17:24). The Father’s love for the Son expresses itself in placing everything in the Son’s hands (3:35), and is drawn out further by the Son’s willingness to lay down his life only to take it up again (10:17). In none of these ways can it be said that Jesus’ love for his disciples is just the same as the Father’s love for him.” Colin G. Kruse, John: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 4, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 315.

[8] “The Father’s love for the Son is the basis of the Son’s love for the disciples, which in turn is the basis of their love for each other.” J. Ramsey Michaels, The Gospel of John, The New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 810.

[9] Kruse, 315.

[10] As one scholar says, His disciples are to make Christ’s love for them their “very identity.” Michaels, 810.

[11] “‘Remaining’ is conditional upon ‘obeying’. ‘Abiding (or remaining) in Christ’ must not be reduced to a subjective, mystical, inner state. The mark of an abiding heart is not only, or even principally, a sense of inward serenity, but a ‘conscience clear before God and man’ (Acts 24:16). It is allowing Jesus’ words to remain in us (7).” Milne, 221-22. “This is not some mystical experience. It is simple obedience.” Morris, 597. “Further, it becomes clear that the sort of intimate union Jesus promises the disciples is not merely a mystical experience but a relational encounter…” Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary & 2, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012), 1003.

[12] Kruse, 315. Morris, 597.

[13] D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991), 520..

[14] Michaels, 315.

[15] “…that obedience reaches its climax in his yielding his life for the salvation of mankind (10:17–18; 12:27–28; 14:31).” George R. Beasley-Murray, John, vol. 36, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 273.

[16] Keener, 1003.

[17] “The friends of Jesus are those who habitually obey him.” Morris, 599.

[18] My father has used this illustration in at least one of his previous sermons.

[19] “Indeed, Paul in Romans (Rom 5:10) argued that Christ died to reconcile us while we were still enemies.” Gerald L. Borchert, John 12–21, vol. 25B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002), 149.

[20] I believe Greg Koukl made a similar point on an Instagram post (that I can’t locate at the moment)

[21] “They are as follows: the Father loves the Son (cf. 3:35; 17:23), and the Son obediently loves the Father (cf. 10:17; 14:31); the Son loves his followers, and they are to love and obey him (cf. 13:34; 14:15, 23); loving and obeying the Son means being loved by the Father (cf. 14:21, 23; 17:23); being loved by the Son also implies loving one another (cf. 13:34; 15:12, 17); God not only loves the disciples but loves the world and gave his Son for its people (cf. 3:16); but many in the world love darkness and do not do the will of God (cf. 3:19; 14:24).” Borchert, 146.

[22] “Keeping the commandments (here epitomized as love) was supposed to bring joy (Ps 19:8 and often in later Jewish teachings).” Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Jn 15:9–11.

[23] My words quoted in the second sermon on Psalm 1 “Life: Use Only As Directed” from the first sermon on Psalm 1– my trial sermon.

[24] Kruse, 316. “Lest the constraints of the unqualified obedience mandated by vv. 9–10 seem grey and joyless, Jesus insists that his own obedience to the Father is the ground of his joy; and he promises that those who obey him will share the same joy—indeed, that his very purpose in laying down such demands is that their joy may be complete (cf. 1 Jn. 1:4).” Carson, 521.

[25] “There were different kinds and levels of friendship in antiquity, and Greco-Roman writers often commented on the topic. Friendship could involve political or military alliances and was often pursued in self-interest; kings or lesser patrons who supported dependents called clients were (especially in Roman circles) said to be engaging in “friendship”; Pharisees also met in circles of “friends.” The traditional Greek concept of friendship emphasized equality among companions, and some philosophical schools like the Epicureans especially emphasized such friendship.” Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Jn 15:14–15.

[26] Kruse, 217.

[27] “Friends were also recipients of one’s confidence and intimacy, as noted above in Philo’s portrayal of Abraham. One difference between servant-master relationships and those between friends is that servants withhold secrets from the master but friends do not withhold them from each other.228 Isocrates advises a careful testing of friends, to see if they are worthy of confidence with secrets; and it is a moralist commonplace that true friends are those who can speak openly (παρρησία) instead of praising a person only to his face, as Plutarch particularly emphasizes…”

Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary & 2, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012), 1010.

[28] “The image especially involves what Jesus entrusts the disciples with, as he states in [Jn 15:15]; as noted above, one difference between servant-master relationships and those between friends is that servants withhold secrets from the master but friends do not withhold them from each other.” Keener, 1013. “friendship means not freedom to disobey but an intimate relationship that continues to recognize distinctions in authority.” Keener, 1015. “That Jesus “no longer” calls the disciples servants intimates a new relationship in the light of his revelation to them and his death for them. The mark of difference between a servant and a friend is precisely the confidence which is extended to the latter.” Beasley-Murray, 274–275.

[29] Carson in Discourse 105,6 as quoted in Keener, 1014. “But mutual, reciprocal friendship of the modern variety is not in view, and cannot be without demeaning God.” Carson, 522.

[30] “This allusion becomes likely in John 15:15 because in 1:14–18 the disciples are compared to a new Moses to whom God revealed his glory in Jesus, the embodiment of Torah in flesh (cf. 2 Cor 3).” Keener, 1013.

[31] “An absolute potentate demands obedience in all his subjects. His slaves, however, are simply told what to do, while his friends are informed of his thinking, enjoy his confidence and learn to obey with a sense of privilege and with full understanding of their master’s heart. So also here: Jesus’ absolute right to command is in no way diminished, but he takes pains to inform his friends of his motives, plans, purposes.” Carson, 523. “The change of relationship from servants to friends is significant. The difference does not lie in a change of attitude—both are expected to obey (14)—but in communication. Whereas servants blindly obey, friends are taken into confidence.” Guthrie, 1057.






  1. A play on the familiar chorus of Drake’s current, chart-topping hit, “In My Feelings,” on which he asks, “Kiki, do you love me?”
  2. I am not, in any way, questioning if Jesus loves me, the question is hypothetically being asked by Jesus — Jesus is (hypothetically) asking if those who claim to love Him actually do love Him/
  3. For more on this text, please see the sermon entitled, “True Freedom, Indeed” (Jn 8:31-36)
  4. I have mentioned this is previous sermons and a Bible study on Psalm 1
  5. Barbara Aland et al., eds., The Greek New Testament, Fifth Revised Edition (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2014), Jn 15:9–14.
About @DannyScottonJr 215 Articles
Imperfect Servant ✝📖⛪ | Husband | Princeton U. Alum | M. Div. | Assistant (to the) Pastor | Sound Doctrine & Apologetics @catchforchrist