"If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15)

Did Jesus really say, 'what I command'?

The word "command" is probably not the best choice for translation.* "Command" is being translated from the Greek word ἐντολή (entolē), which can certainly mean "command," but also "precept" and "injunction."

A "command" is typical of an army officer who is shouting orders to their subordinates. A "command" is considered an order that comes with little or no choice. Jesus is not referring to such a situation.

Rather, Jesus is referring to making a choice to love God. Such a choice would never be commanded. The Supreme Being could take away the freedom to love God and force us to become robot followers if He wanted to. But God doesn't do this. God gives us the freedom to love Him or not.

Therefore, Jesus, who represents God, would never make such a demand. Certainly, Jesus would request that his followers make the choice to love God and serve God. And this could be construed as instructions. And instructions could be construed as commands in some sense. But the words "command" and "obey" are inconsistent with the concept of doing something out of love.

Love requires freedom. If a person is forced to do something, there is no love involved. If a person does something out of love, he must have the free will to do that thing or not. Jesus is assuming with this very statement that his disciples have the choice to follow his teachings or not.

In this context, because Jesus' precepts and injunctions were communicated within his teachings, "instructions" is a better translation. And since the use of the word also takes on a plural sense within this sentence, a better translation comes from the Lost Gospels of Jesus:
"If you love me? you will follow my instructions."

Did God die for our sins?

Some promote the idea that Jesus was some sort of "God became man" whose purpose was to die on the cross for our sins.

This is a nonsensical proposition. God never becomes a man. God is always the Supreme Being. He controls everything. He does not need to come here as a physical body and have that physical body tortured in order to cleanse our sins. God can cleanse our sins with a simple thought. He doesn't need to come here to die on the cross for that.

As far as making some sort of sacrifice - God does not need to follow any rules of sacrifice. God doesn't need to follow anyone's rules - even His own rules. He sets the rules. He is above all rules - even regarding sacrifice.

God therefore never has to follow the rules of sacrifice - which is what these priests and preachers are telling us. They are saying that God must abide by the rules of sacrifice, and thus God had to sacrifice Himself on the cross to remove our sins. Such a notion contradicts everything Jesus taught.

Besides this, God never dies. God did not die on the cross - even for a second. God does not die. He is eternal. He doesn't come under the laws of time (and thus God never gets old either - and doesn't have grey hair and a long white beard as imagined by some). God never dies as these physical bodies die.

Furthermore, the Supreme Being can remove our sins with a single thought. This is why Jesus suggested that his students pray:
"Our Father Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil." (Luke 11:2-4 KJV)
Notice here that Jesus recommends his students ask God directly: "Forgive us our sins". This clarifies that God can immediately forgive our sins.

If God as Jesus died for our sins, then why didn't Jesus just tell his disciples to wait until his body was crucified on the cross and their sins will automatically be forgiven?

And why did Jesus bother to teach at all if all we have to do is stare at the cross and "accept that Jesus died for my sins"?

Jesus contradicts such a notion with the simple statement here.

Can Jesus save us?

Becoming "saved" occurs when there is a change of consciousness.

Changing our consciousness occurs through gaining knowledge and applying that knowledge to our lives. This has the ability to produce a change of heart from self-centeredness to love of God and love of others. 

Jesus' teachings deliver such knowledge, and receiving those teachings allows us to have a change of consciousness and come to love God and others. This is what Jesus came to the earth to do: To teach us.

This is why Jesus' statement here puts such a priority on following Jesus' instructions ("obey what I command").

This only makes sense. Why would a person come to the planet, spend years teaching to people, stand on hills teaching, stand in courtyards teaching, stand in marketplaces teaching, and then ask his followers to follow his teachings? And why would a person be arrested for his teachings?

Besides this, Jesus did not die on the cross. His physical body died. Jesus left his body at the time of death just as we all do. This is evidenced by the fact - as discussed elsewhere - that Jesus' disciples did not recognize him when he appeared to them after the death of his body. They did not recognize him because he was no longer wearing his body. He was appearing before their eyes utilizing God-given powers.

Jesus' body was murdered for his teachings. It had nothing to do with our sins. Why did the chief priests have Jesus arrested? Because of his teachings. Why did the Romans acquiesce to the temple priests and torture and murder Jesus' body? Because of his teachings. Pilate even asked Jesus to retract some of his teachings and Jesus wouldn't. Why?

Why were Jesus' teachings so important?

Why were Jesus' teachings so important that he would make this statement to his disciples - that if they loved him they would follow his teachings? Why were Jesus' teachings so important that he would allow his physical body to be murdered for his teachings?

Because Jesus' teachings were special. They were spiritual. Jesus' teachings introduced the Supreme Being to his students and followers. They introduced his students to the concept that we can love and care for - serve - the Supreme Being. And they introduced them to the personality of the Supreme Being.

Just consider his most important teaching:
“ ‘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.” (Matt. 22:37-38)
We must consider this teaching of Jesus carefully. First, he says this is his most important teaching. Second, Jesus' instruction discusses having an intimate relationship of love with the Supreme Being.

Doesn't loving God require knowing God?

How can a person love a burning bush or a thunderous voice? How can a person love a vague cloud-like thing or some kind of "force"?

Rather, love requires knowing our beloved. Love requires understanding that person's personality, feelings, behavior and so on.

In other words, loving God requires knowing God. The only way we can love someone is if we know that person.

>Jesus is not only asking his students to love the Supreme Being>. He is asking them to love God with their entire being. That is a tall order unless they can come to know God.

We also know that the books of the New Testament do not contain all of Jesus' teachings, certainly not many of his intimate teachings to his disciples. We know this because Jesus said to them after one of his sermons:
"The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, "'though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.'" (Luke 8:10)
And while Jesus did follow this statement by explaining a little more about the one parable of the farmer and the seeds, the texts of the New Testament do not go much into other "secrets of the kingdom of God" that Jesus obviously - from this statement - spoke to his disciples. Rather, they mostly focus on things Jesus said in public.

It would in fact not make much sense if, after Jesus told them he did not reveal many of the "secrets" to the general populace, they or their students were to publish all of those "secrets" in later manuscripts.

Thus we must accept with certainty that there are teachings that Jesus specifically gave his disciples that are not documented within the texts of the New Testament.

Did Jesus withhold some of his teachings?

Was Jesus trying to withhold some of his teachings from the general populace because he didn't care about anyone but his disciples?

No. He offered his teachings to anyone, but he also, as documented with his statement above, geared his teachings to the seriousness of those hearing them. Some of his teachings would not be well-understood by some because they were not serious about coming to know and love God. This is why he also advised his disciples:
"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces." (Matt. 7:6)
In other words, we should know by virtue of the fact that Jesus spent years teaching his followers, yet the New Testament only contains a few days worth of his teachings - combined with his statements about being careful about revealing too much to the wrong people - that Jesus taught far more to his disciples than is revealed in the New Testament.

Does that mean that what he taught his disciples that is not within the New Testament is lost forever? Absolutely not.

Coming to know the Supreme Being is a right that is given by the Supreme Being, and the Supreme Being only. If a person truly wants to come to know God, then God arranges for that person to come into contact with one of His intimate loving servants, who will introduce that person to Him. This is God's favorite method of re-introducing us to Him, but it only happens if we make the choice.

This approach is also typical of relationships. Let's say that we want to be introduced to someone else. We might just walk up to the person and say "Hi I am so-and-so." But such an introduction would be far more productive if we were to be introduced by someone who knew us and could make a proper introduction.

The Supreme Being works in a similar way. While God can appear before our eyes if He wants, He prefers to work through relationships, allowing His loving servants to introduce us to Him. This is not simply to engage others, but also to allow us to see how loving relationships with the Supreme Being work. By meeting with and engaging with one of God's loving servants we are able to see, in a practical way, how loving God and pleasing God is done.

It also allows us to relate with the loving servant and representative of God. We can serve that person, and thus become linked up with their service to God.

This is how Jesus' students linked themselves up with Jesus' service. They began to serve him, knowing that because he was serving God, they were also serving God when they were serving Jesus. Thus, when Jesus would ask them to go to something, his disciples would immediately do that. 

They weren't asking to be paid. They also weren't slaves. But they were serving Jesus. They were serving Jesus because they wanted to please him, and since he was serving God in order to please God, they knew they were also serving God.

And when Jesus' disciples - such as James - eventually took on their own students, those students served them as the teacher. This is the process of learning through a succession of teachers.

This intimate relationship between the Teacher and his students is critical to understanding the relationship that we can have with the Supreme Being. God is not sitting on a cloud on a big throne just making commands and threatening people. 

The Supreme Being is the Greatest and Most Wonderful Personality Who participates in loving relationships within communities of individuals in the spiritual realm. Each member of each community seeks to please Him, and they work together, caring for each other and helping each other in their efforts to please God. It is a place of pure love. A place where self-centeredness does not exist among God's children.

This physical world is a darker place. It is a place of self-centeredness. Here each of us struggles to please ourselves or those extensions of ourselves - our organizations, households, or countries. We ultimately seek our own gain in this world. 

This is because the physical world is the place where those who did not want to participate in the loving relationships of the spiritual realm go. And we were given virtual physical bodies where we could play out our self-centered desires.

But the Supreme Being wants us to come home now. He wants us back in His loving arms because He knows only this will make us happy. The problem is, love requires freedom, and only we can make that decision. Only we can make the choice to return to our original loving relationship with Him and His children.

Should we make that choice, He will guide us. He will utilize His loving servants to re-introduce us to Him and guide us through tests and challenges to prepare us. We can trust that if we are serious, God will guide us back to Him. As long as we are serious, and committed.

Jesus' statement - his request to his disciples to follow his teachings - is founded upon love. A relationship of love between Jesus and his disciples is important because this is the pathway back to the spiritual realm: The love of the spiritual realm is seen in the love Jesus has for his students as he taught them about God. And this love was reciprocated when those students lovingly followed his teachings.

This is because Jesus wanted them - and all of us - to return to the spiritual realm with him.