6th Sunday of Easter

6th Sunday of Easter

May 6, 2018

John 15:9-17

“In Jesus’ Love”

Grace, mercy, and peace be and abide with you all in the name of our living Savior Jesus. The basis for the sermon today is the Gospel lesson read from John 15.

My dear friends,

What do you think of when you hear the word love? Do you think of a couple walking hand-in-hand on the beach? Do you think of Valentine’s Day and a warm fuzzy feeling in your stomach? Today we want to understand that such a concept of love is just a very, very small part of the capacity to love and to be loved. Last week we focused on the shocking things that love can do. Today we want to explore the motivation of Christian love, a love modeled after the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What was love to our Savior Jesus Christ? What did Jesus think of when He heard the word love? Jesus would not define love with words, but with actions: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 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” (Jn 13:1, 5). “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 Jn 4:10). There you have it—that is love. Last week we considered the question “is love not shown still love?” The answer is NO! For Jesus, love meant nothing apart from deeds. Jesus didn’t just speak love, he did love. Love for Jesus was sacrifice. Jesus sacrificed his time, energy, personal comfort, and the sacrifice of his very life.

Jesus gave all of this love to us very unlovable, sinful human beings. Jesus didn’t choose us to love because we loved him first. No, people aren’t too good at that….not even the disciples. The night of our text—early that night, that is—Peter and all the disciples were sure they’d make any sacrifice for Jesus, even die with him. Well, you know how that turned out. The disciples were good with love that was words – they were “all talk” – but when it came time for sacrifice, to put their lives on the line, even their words bailed out: “I don’t know the man. I don’t know the man! I don’t know the man!” No, Jesus didn’t choose to love the disciples because they chose to love him. He’s quite emphatic: “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (v 16).

And Jesus did choose you—you who were no more lovable and reliable than Peter. You who bail when it’s time to tell your friends, right out loud, right there when he’s being mocked, “I love Jesus.” We claim to love Jesus but we’ve let the world re-define His intention for love and marriage. We’ve let our love for the unborn grow cold and watched them die day after day. We claim “we love Jesus,” yet find excuse after excuse to not attend church or Bible study regularly.

We weren’t lovable, but Jesus says, “I love you—your sins are forgiven.” Jesus says, “I love you—I lay down my life for you, my friend.”

What is love to you? How would you define love? Why do we love? First of all, we love because God commands us to love. It’s not an option. Twice in today’s Gospel, Jesus does not suggest that we love—he commands us to love. How do we love? We love as Jesus loved. Now that’s a pretty tough order. To love as Jesus loved means that we serve as Jesus served.

We love by sacrifice. We love not by words but by deeds. We love by laying down our lives for others. Not necessarily literally, but as we give of our time, our comforts, and our treasures, we are laying down our lives in love for others. We lay down our lives in favor of the needy when we visit a homebound member or give to All Faiths Food Bank. We love not to get something but to do something. Maybe we shouldn’t say, “I love you.” Maybe we should say, “What can I do for you?” Love without sacrifice is nothing.

The story goes that in 19th century England there was a daughter (Marie) of a princess (Alice, 2nd daughter of Queen Victoria) who was deathly ill with diphtheria. The mother was forbidden to kiss the child because of the almost certain danger of contracting the disease. In one of the many moments of pain for the child, the mother was so distressed that she took her daughter in her arms and soothed her into quietness. The daughter looked into the eyes of her mother with an expression of pure pain. This was too much for the mother’s heart. She took her child, pressed her against her body and kissed her. It was a kiss of death. Love is sacrifice without counting the cost.

Whom do we love? Anyone for whom we sacrifice is someone we love, starting with our spouses, children, and friends. We can love people whom we don’t even know. We sponsor a child through World Vision as do thousands upon thousands of Christians. How many people give money for the relief of those caught in natural disasters? That is sacrificial love. We love those who do not love us. We love as we do deeds in the name of Jesus Christ. We do because Jesus loved us first.

The sacrificial love of Jesus is hard for us to do. It takes effort, practice, and concentration. It takes open eyes to see the needs of others. How can you better love those at home, at church, at work, in your neighborhood? Love with the love of Jesus. Love because he loved you first. I love you. What can I do for you? May that question always be on your lips in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.