Fortunately over the last 30 years there have been significant voices trying to break the Christian misconception that the Old testament was a book of commandment keeping with little to do with love and grace and the New Testament was more about love and grace and less about commandment keeping. What had been overlooked in that stereotype were the many verses in the Old Testament about grace and the many verses in the New Testament about commandment keeping. God didn’t change his mind in the New Testament. Both testaments have basically the same message – That God created us, loves us, liberates us (exodus, sacrifices, and return from exile in OT; cross and empty tomb in the NT) and seeks to bring restoration to the world and that we respond in a way that is fitting with those godly priorities and objectives.
In John 14:15 Jesus throws out one of those stereotype challenging verses that makes the New Testament sound like the Old Testament (from the old/obsolete point of view mentioned above) when the reality is it is God just sounding like God regardless of which testament you are in. “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Then in 14:21, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.” But Jesus what about grace and all those pages penned by Paul about being saved by grace apart from works and all the rest?
Let’s put what Jesus said in terms of relationships we all understand today. “If you love your wife you will do the things she appreciates.” Or how about the flip side, “If you could care less about the things your wife appreciates the most, do you really love your wife?” The state of being married is not defined by the presence or absence of doing things important to the other party. The state of being married is an agreed upon covenant on the front end. Doing doesn’t necessarily make a spouse love you more but the absence of any caring actions is demonstrable of what is on the inside. Doing is an external sign of an internal state. Doing shows what is in the heart and that is what God is after no matter which testament you are reading.