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The Tie that Binds

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Blest Be the Tie that Binds

Communion Service

Thursday, April 5, 2007


·         Maundy Thursday – Maundy comes from a Latin word for “commandment.” We could call it “Mandate Thursday.” On this night Jesus said, “Love one another.” When Regina and I explained this to our family one of them called it “Love Each Another Thursday.”

·         Though it is one of Christ’s most important commands I’m not sure we hear it often enough. Maybe I should preach on this more often. We refer to the command every time we sing “Blest Be the Tie that Binds.” What is the tie? “…Our hearts in Christian love” Christ-like love We join hands as we sing because it represents being held together by love – God’s love working in us and through us.

·         Is it strange that we should refer to something like love as a tie – a tie that binds? Do we use the word tie for a relationship? “Tying the knot” means a man and a woman are exchanging vows and rings in the holy act of marriage. Recently I read this of marriage: "Tying the knot, as it turns out, is a perfect metaphor for marriage. Like knots, relationships can be well-tied or poorly-tied. But no matter how well-tied, they tend to loosen over time. When tied skillfully and periodically monitored, they are able to hold things together, even through turbulent times. And when tied unskillfully or ignored over time, they are unable to contain even the most precious cargo." (From Dr. Mardy Grothe, I think that is a good description of marriage, family life and relationships. I think it also applies to “the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.”

·         When I read the words of Jesus in John’s Gospel and I hear again the words, “Love one another as I have loved you” I ask the question how well are we tied together? Let’s read from John 13:31-35 and then examine the tie that binds to evaluate how well this tie holds in our lives and in our church.

31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” NIV

I. The work of Jesus binds us together in love.

A.     Jesus binds us together with love.

1. “A new command I give you: Love one another.” You are in relationship together. What did Cain ask when questioned by God of his brother? “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The answer was yes, but he refused to accept the reality that he was in a relationship which required him to act responsibly. Jesus reveals this kind of relationship when he says love one another. God knows that we need this love that securely holds us in relationship.

In a Time magazine article "The Power of Love,", Jeffrey Kluger pointed out how newborn babies display the need for affection we all feel. Of all the urges that drive us, it's the passion to be held that makes itself known first. If a baby is startled fresh from the womb, German pediatrician Ernst Moro discovered in 1918, its arms will fly up and out, then come together in a desperate clutch.

Holding is good, and floating free is bad—a lesson that's not so much learned after birth as preloaded at the factory. In fact, doctors have long known that babies who aren't held simply fail to thrive. Not surprisingly, it's a need we never outgrow. In one way or another, we spend the rest of our lives in a sort of sustained Moro clinch. (1-19-04)

2. By the “one another” we are reminded that we are brought together by Jesus in relationship – “in a knot” if you will.  But this description of a tie that binds will bring objections. I once reviewed with a couple the vows of acceptance for an upcoming wedding. The young man asked that the words “bond” be removed from the vows. “Will you take (Name), to be your wedded wife, to live together in the holy bond of marriage?” To use the word tie is not an exaggeration. Don’t we say, “I’m tied up right now”?

B.     This binding of love is a reality and also a command.

1.   “Like knots, relationships can be well-tied or poorly-tied.” The love of God is well-tied. This Love is based on the unity and perfect union of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God never changes. He expresses to us a perfect love and desires that perfect love to be experienced by us. We are to love because he loved us. “You’ve got to serve somebody.”

2.  God’s love ties us together in this best way possible. With forgiveness of our sins and shared faith as the body of Christ we have the best arrangement for real love in our marriages, families and in our church. So the command based on this reality is love one another. If it is true of you…then do it.

II. We must evaluate this well-tied relationship for changes.

A. The love of Jesus gives us a standard to evaluate our relationships.

1. The standard of our love is the “As I have loved you.” “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

2. This statement calls for evaluation of what it meant for Christ to love and what it means for us. We may lay claim to the love of God and say we love God in return but we must evaluate how we are doing in this love relationship. It is not always easy.

When I was a kid in Sunday school, I had to memorize some of those nasty little verses in 1 John. Those verses say, "If a man says he loves God and loves not his brother, he's a liar, because if you haven't loved your brother whom you have seen, how can you love God whom you've not seen?" I thought the whole thing was a bunch of pious nonsense. I could see absolutely no relationship between loving God and loving my brother or my neighbor.

As time passed, I discovered that John was on to something. In the Scriptures, Christian love is not objective. Christian love is subjective. Christian love does not reside in the personality being loved. It resides in the person doing the loving. My basic premise was wrong; it is not such a simple thing to love God. How are we doing?

B. We must evaluate relationships of love to see how well they remain tied.

1. God wants us to monitor our relationships. Our human ties will loosen over time. You change. Friends change. Our love changes. We change allegiance. We do focus on other things..” What does this mean for your relationships?

2. “But no matter how well-tied, they tend to loosen over time. When tied skillfully and periodically monitored, they are able to hold things together, even through turbulent times.” I would stop the soccer games and say “check your shoes.” Tie your shoes. Before this statement Jesus washed the disciples feet.

John 13:1 Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.ESV


Oswald Chambers in The Love of God writes: Our Lord did not say to His disciples: "I have had a most successful time on earth. I have addressed thousands of people and been the means of their salvation; now you go and do the same kind of thing." He said: "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet." We try to get out of it by washing the feet of those who are not of our own set. We will wash the heathen's feet, the feet in the slums; but fancy washing my brother's feet! My wife's! My husband's! The feet of the minister of my church! Our Lord said "one another's feet."

We must evaluate relationships of love to see how well they remain tied. How well are we washing the feet?

III. The tie that binds holds the most important relationships.

A. This love represents the love that Christ has for us.

1. The love of Christ is represented by our love for each other. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

            2. God knows how much we need love – we were created for his love.

 B. The tie that binds holds the most important relationships and message.

1. “And when tied unskillfully or ignored over time, they are unable to contain even the most precious cargo." But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Cor 4.7

2. “By this shall all people know…”  Know what? The greatest message of the centuries – we can follow God’s way’s by following Jesus Christ. How well are we doing?

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

As a result of poor planning, Dennis, from Katy, Texas, needed some same-day dry cleaning before he left on a trip. He remembered one store with a huge sign, "One-Hour Dry Cleaners," on the other side of town, so he drove out of his way to drop off a suit. After filling out the tag, he told the clerk, "I need this in an hour."

She said, "I can't get this back to you until Thursday."

"I thought you did dry cleaning in an hour?"

"No," she replied, "That's just the name of the store."

Those of us who carry the name Christian, but fail to act like the one whose name we bear, create confusion and disillusionment for those who have yet to believe.

"By this, all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35).

Blest Be the Tie that Binds

Maybe we should sing it, but how much better that we should do it.

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