Sixth Sunday of Easter
Passage: John 15:9–15:17
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: John 15:9-17
Date: May 6th, 2018; Easter 6; Series B
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
- What do you think of when you hear the word love?
- Do you think of a couple walking hand-in-hand on the beach?
- Or maybe a romantic picture of a couple kissing in front of the Eiffel tower.
- Hollywood has influenced us to associate love with a warm and fuzzy feeling, an emotion really, because of how it portrays love and romance in movies and on TV.
- And this is part of love, but it isn’t the full picture.
- We use the word love to describe many different things, but there can be major differences in what we mean.
- When I say that I love the Edmonton Oilers, I do mean it – but it is a different kind of love than when I say that I love my wife.
- The Greek language has four different words for love that help to distinguish between the different types.
- Since we only have one word for love in English, it helps to dig a bit deeper into what love means in our Gospel lesson for this morning and in so many other parts of the Bible.
- Let’s start by asking what love means to Jesus.
- How would he define love?
- Well, he wouldn’t define love with words, but with actions.
- Here are some examples from Scripture: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)…“Having loved his own who were in the world, Jesus loved them to the end…Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet” (John 13:1, 5)…“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
- These passages from Scripture provide some clarity for what love means in our Gospel lesson.
- Love for Jesus was sacrifice. Jesus sacrificed his time, energy, earthly comfort, and finally his very life out of his love for us.
- And the amazing part is that Jesus gave all of this love to us while we were still sinners. While we were very unlovable, sinful human beings.
- In last week’s epistle lesson St. John told us, “In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he has loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
- The disciples are a good example of this. Peter and the disciples were sure that they would make any sacrifice for Jesus, even die with him. They promised Jesus that they would never forsake him.
- But as we know, they abandoned him at the first sign of danger.
- The disciples talked a good game of love, but when it came time for sacrifice, to put their lives on the line, Peter said, “I don’t know this man”.
- Jesus did not love and choose the disciples because they chose to love him first.
- In our Gospel lesson he makes this very clear, “You did not choose me, but I chose you” he said.
- And this applies to all of us.
- Jesus chose each and every one of us – we who are no more loveable and reliable than Peter or the rest of the disciples.
- We, who at times, deny our Lord when we have an opportunity to proclaim him because we fear what people might think of us.
- We, who at times, ignore the needs of others because we are so focused on making sure that we have what we want.
- We, who at times, love ourselves and the things of this world more than we love God.
- Jesus does not love us because we are loveable.
- But out of his love for us he chose us. He saved us.
- And as those who have first been loved by God, as God’s chosen - Jesus commands us to love one another.
- Now this might seem strange. How can you command or require someone to love?
- It would seem odd for someone to say, “I command you to love your wife” or, “It is required that you love your children.”
- But this is exactly what Jesus has done.
- And he not only commands and requires us to love our spouses, children, family and friends – he commands and requires us to love everyone that we come into contact with throughout our entire lives.
- We are commanded to love even our enemies.
- We are to love that co-worker who drives us up the wall.
- We are to love that neighbour whose dog continues to make a mess on our lawn.
- We are to love that relative who continues to let us down and hurt us.
- We are to love that person who has different coloured skin, speaks a different language, practices a different religion.
- This is what our Lord commands and requires us to do.
- And this is not something that we can do on our own, through our own effort.
- We are able to love our neighbour only because Jesus first loved us.
- He is our source.
- None of us deserve God’s love. But in his grace and mercy he has given it to us anyway.
- And having received God’s undeserved love, we then love all of our neighbours who also do not deserve it.
- We are all in the same boat – we all need God’s love. We all need each other’s love. Desperately.
- And God provides us with everything we need to love our neighbour – to love even the unlovable.
- And the way that we “tap into” our Saviour’s love, the way that we are able to do this seemingly impossible task, is to abide in his love.
- We heard Jesus say in our Gospel lesson, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.”
- This is the only way that it is possible.
- And we abide in the love of Jesus, and he abides in us, through his means of grace.
- We immerse ourselves in the Word (hearing it read and preached, studying it, meditating upon it) - and he abides in us and we abide in him.
- Through the waters of our Holy Baptism he abides in us and we abide in him. His word of promise connected to the waters of our baptism assure us that we are his.
- He abides in us and we abide in him as we gather at the altar to receive his faith sustaining, life giving, true body and blood.
- Through his means of grace, his Word and Sacraments - God has shown, and given to each of us personally, his love and life.
- When we understand love in this light, our Lord’s command to love each other turns from something that we have to do, from something that we are required to do – into something that we get to do. Something that we have the privilege and honour of doing.
- What does love look like? It is going to vary from person to person and from situation to situation.
- We might love by showing kindness to those who serve us, or to those we serve.
- We might show love by loving and teaching our children; honouring and obeying our parents and teachers; forgiving that person who hurt us, even though they don’t deserve it; volunteering our time and sharing our resources with those who need it.
- We have the opportunity, the privilege, to love in so many different ways - ways that often seem ordinary and even trivial to us.
- But in all these ways God’s love radiates through us and others get to experience his love too.
- And this all happens as Christ abides in us and we abide in him. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.