Easter 6 — May 10th, 2015
Sermon Text — John 15:9-17
Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia. Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. John’s gospel account the 15th chapter. (John 15:9-17)
Beloved in the Lord,
The Father’s Love
“God is Love.” (1 John 4:8) There is no love in the world except the love which comes from the Father. Anyone who does not love does not know the Father. The Father loves the Son. The Son loves you. This is God’s sharing of Himself with His beloved creation. Being loved of God we know Him and He knows us. This is eternal life: that you know the Father, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. There is no love where there is no faith. Love is the fruit of faith. There is no faith where there is no love. Faith without works is dead. (James 2:17) Faith and love go together.
Our adversary is opposed to faith. To destroy faith in the heart Satan attacks love. The blessings of faith is a good conscience because faith works out salvation in love. To get to faith the serpent and his legions assume the language of love and appear as messengers of light. Hearing words with new meanings the world is deceived. Sin is called good. And righteousness is called evil. Love is then adulterated. That which is holy is debased. Sinners are snared. Consciences are burdened. Bodies are dirtied. Marriage beds are defiled. The One flesh union is divorced. Children are harmed. Fathers are deprived the joys of family. Mothers are burdened with guilt and shame. Husbands are easily lured by 2 dimensional women. And mothers are frowned upon for being homemakers. And with each deception, with each abandonment, with each fling, with each pervesion, the source and foundation of love – God Himself – is profaned by the very ones He created and redeemed. How wicked is our adversary? How foolish his subjects? How tempting our culture. All attacks on love are really attacks on our conscience and our faith. For this is the only way Satan can slither his way into our hearts as he seeks to devour us with his perversions.
Remain in My Love?
The Savior is aware of his beguiling ways. All love is not the same love. For this reason Jesus connects true love to His love. “Just as the Father loves Me, so also I have loved you.” Jesus loves you and teaches you this morning to remain in His love. Love flows from the Father to Jesus and from Jesus to you. We receive His love and are called to remain in that love by loving our neighbors in Word and Deed. Love is defined by its source – Jesus. This love is not the same as tolerance. This love is not the same love as the world would have us love. This love is not the same love the Supreme Court is debating. This love is not the same love advertised on cable TV as “big love”. This love is not a union of the same but of others, it is not homo but hetero. For this love is defined by Jesus as “keeping my commands” as “I have kept my Father’s commands and abide in His love.”
The definition of love is found in the commandments of God which call us to love God above all things and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Love is more than affection. Love is more than warm fuzzy feelings. Scripture teaches that Love is the summary and fulfillment of the Law. (Romans 13:8) The Law teaches us to love as the Father loves the Son and as the Son loves you. Therefore Love will neither hurt nor harm others. And love’s uniting climax is reserved for the marriage bed. The one flesh union is not just between one man and one woman, but is to be shared solely between a husband and wife. Anything else, homo or hetero, before or outside of marriage is a different love which scripture calls adultery. Anything else is an adulterated love and not the love from God. Such different love leads to a bad conscience, it hurts and harms to the depths both body and soul, and steals away joy.
Beloved, we must confess that we have been snared by the devil, the world, and even our own sinful nature to participate and share in this “other” love. We had sinned against God and our neighbor. We have called good what God calls evil. We have pursued happiness rather than righteousness telling ourselves that everything will be all right yet wondering why it isn’t. Our conscience convicts us. Shame and guilt have led to anger and depression and loneliness. We need to change. We need to repent. We need a clean conscience. We need Jesus.
Greater Love Hath No Man than This
God is love and Jesus is God. Jesus is God’s love given for the world. Jesus is fulfillment of the Law given for you. And greater love has no man than this, that He lay down His life for His friends. For while we were still yet sinners Christ Jesus died for us, for all, for you. Love of God is rooted in the sending of His Son to be for you what you have not been, nor can be without Him. Apart from Jesus you cannot love. Therefore Jesus loves you first. He loves you by drawing near. He doesn’t run away. He doesn’t cast off. He doesn’t hide in the shadows or avoid the dirt. He loves. Love touches lepers and makes them clean. Love forgives adulterers and eats and drinks with them. Love calls cheaters and swindlers to follow Him. Love bears up the broken and straightens the crooked. Love works. Love suffers. Love allows Himself to be humiliated, mocked, bruised, beaten, abused, crucified, dead and buried. Greater love has no man than this that He lay down His life for us, for all, for you. How great is the love of our God? How renowned is the passion of our Lord? How wide is the embrace of His cross? How far is the reach of His salvation? How mysterious is the depths of His heart toward us, toward all, toward you?
Calling Friends in Love
It is this love which makes friends of His enemies. And Jesus calls you His friends. You are His friends because He has made known to you the love of the Father. You did not choose Him, but He has chosen you. Choosing you in Holy Water He has called by name and given you the Divine Name. No longer are you cheater, swindler, adulterer, divorcee, homosexual, thief, liar or hater. You were these things and more. You were sinner, but now you have been washed, sanctified, and justified in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. He covers your sins with blood. For love covers over a multitude of sins. And He has loved you to the point of shedding His own blood for you.
Now you are a new creation. A good conscience has been pledged in your place. Baptism now saves you through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. You are His friends, beloved of God. And you are invited to call on His Name, to ask the Father whatever is needed in order to love with genuine love.
As friends you are invited to draw near. Love delights to be with His beloved. Jesus is overjoyed to have you come close. He is God with Us. And God with us is also God for us even now, even here. For this reason He sets before you a table filled with the bounty of His love. He offers you His body. He gives you His blood. Jesus unites Himself to you in this sacrament because He loves you and wants to forgive you, and strengthen you, and cleanse you. This is no ordinary gift. This is no ordinary union. This is the Savior of the World sharing Himself with His friends, reveling in the salvation He has won for you, giving His joy into the depths of our hearts as we eat and drink from His table. This sacrament is the culmination of His love for you on this side of eternity and the pledge of a greater fulfillment on the day of our resurrection.
Bearing Fruit that Remains
Beloved in the Lord, as friends of God, loved in Jesus, you are now called to abide in this love. Abiding in this love means remaining in Jesus by faith. Faith and love go together, neither can exist apart from the other, and neither can exist apart from Jesus the author and perfector of our faith. Therefore work out your salvation in love. Love the Lord your God as He daily and richly forgives your sins through Word and sacrament. And love your neighbor, all those whom God places in your life. Love them with your work, your suffering, bearing the burden of love’s goodness for the sake others. In this way husbands will love their wives. Wives will honor their husbands and the two shall be joined together and share love’s joy in body and soul. The one flesh union is the culmination of two wedded together in love. Here, sex is good, very good, because it is given and received as God has arranged it from the foundation of the world! And accordingly the two shall bear fruit as God wills it. And this is good, very good. For such is the way the Lord would have children enter this life and be loved. Loved by a father and a mother, each receiving from the other both sharing with those begotten of their love. In so doing fathers will experience the joy of family. Mothers will bear no shame or guilt in childbirth. And children will know love as they receive love from their parents. And God is glorified by the light of your good works to the nations.
Being loved by Him and abiding in His love as we work out our faith in our vocations we go forth with a good conscience! Anger, depression, and loneliness are cast out. For the love of God has been poured into our hearts and overflows into our lives towards those nearest us, those in our paths, those whom He gives us. This is a mystery but all flows from Jesus who is loved by the Father and shares holy love with us, with you and through you. The happiness we once pursued will be supplanted by the Joy of Jesus in word and in deed. This is God’s will for you, that you love one another has He has loved you. For these three remain, faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love. Abide in His Love! AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep you heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.