Notes on John 15:9-11

John 15:9-11
Another element of incalculable value in the disciple's path is the consciousness of the Savior's love. This is next set before them. “As the Father loved me, I also loved you abide in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things have I spoken to you that my joy may be1 in you, and your joy may be fulfilled.” (Vers. 9-11.)
We must bear in mind that the subject is fruit-bearing daring the disciple's passage through this world. It is not eternal purpose, nor is it that love in relationship which secures unfailingly from first to last, but Christ's love toward each in his path of daily walk and trial. He knew what this was on His Father's part to Himself as man, though never ceasing to be Son here below. Such was His own love to the disciples; and now He calls on them to abide in it, not in Him only, but, what is more, in His love: an immense and unfailing spring of comfort in the necessarily painful and otherwise disappointing current of earthly circumstances so strongly opposed to them for His sake. Give wine, says the Book of Proverbs, unto those that be of heavy hearts. But His love is better than wine, cheering and strengthening without fleshly excitement. There is thus not only dependence on Him, but that confidence in Him which His love is meant to inspire.
But there is more that follows, even obedience. “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.” (Ver. 6.) It is manifest that we have nothing here to do with the sovereign mercy of God which goes out to the lost, and reconciles enemies by the death of His Son. For as by the disobedience of the one man (Adam) the many were constituted sinners, so also by the obedience of the one (Christ) shall the many be constituted righteous. Grace in Christ surmounts every hindrance, and reigns righteously above all evil, whether of the individual or of the race. Here not the sinner's ruin or deliverance, but the disciple's path, is in question; and his obedience is the condition of abiding in his Master's love. He who in all things has, and must have, the pre-eminence trod the same path and accepted the same condition as man here below; though He counted it no robbery to be on equality with God, He became obedient, and this to the lowest point, for the glory of God the Father. He in unwavering perfection did the will of Him that sent Him, and enjoyed its fruit in a like perfection; we follow Him though with unequal steps; and assuredly he that says be abides in Him ought himself also so to walk even as He walked. And obedience is the way. None other morally befits us; as this but verifies our love to Him and sense of relationship to God. Nothing is so lowly, nothing so firm, as obedience. It delivers from self-assertion on the one hand, and on the other from subjection to the opinions or traditions of men. It brings us face to face with God's word, and tests our desire to please Him in the midst of present ease, honor, lust, or passion. Here too it is a question of keeping Christ's commandments, as that which secures His love, as in chapter 14 we saw that it proved their love to Him.
The last motive the Lord brings to bear on the disciples as to this is contained in the next verse. “These things have I spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be fulfilled.” (Ver. 11.) Nor is there a better criterion of our state, and consequently of our failure or success in entering into His mind. For if we take up the words of this chapter legally, scarce any words in the Bible are surer to plunge an upright soul into sorrow and depression; but if we understand them as He intended, they are expressly given to impart His joy to us and make our joy full. His joy when here was in pleasing His Father; to obey His commandments was not burdensome. This joy of His He would now make ours. What a contrast with the unfruitful groaning of a soul, even though quickened, under law, as in the close of Rom. 7! What a mercy, if we have tasted such bitterness, now to know our joy in obedience fulfilled! The latter part of Rom. 7 is a wholesome process for us to pass through, but a miserable ground of standing: for this God never intended it. Chapter 8 shows us the Christian delivered, holy, and abounding in good fruit.
This is clearly His desire concerning us. Those who ignore or deny it would deprive us of His joy, as no doubt they lack it themselves. Nor need we wonder; for as philosophy never can conceive divine love, so theology, pandering as it does to human science, ever misses the Savior's joy, seeking pleasure and applause in the schools of the world, which knows the Father no more now than of old. O righteous Father, said He a little later, the world knew Thee not; but I knew Thee, and these (the disciples) knew that Thou didst send Me; and I made known to them Thy name, and will make it known; that the love wherewith Thou didst love Me may be in them, and I in them.
What ineffable goodness! Does not every thought, feeling, word prove itself divine? Settled peace is a great thing as the soul's foundation, never to be moved, and God would have us know it simply and immutably; but we must not forget the joy of obedience and the favor of the Lord as a present thing in our daily ways. This has been too much overlooked by children of God, and scarcely more through the slipshod laxity of evangelicalism than by the morose hardness of the legalists, ignorant alike of the full ground of grace, and of the true character of God's government which is bound up with it.