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Easter 6

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John 15:9–17 NIV
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Though the meanings of these terms overlap considerably in many contexts, there are probably some significant differences in certain contexts; that is to say, φιλέω and φιλία are likely to focus upon love or affection based upon interpersonal association, while ἀγαπάω and ἀγάπη focus upon love and affection based on deep appreciation and high regard. On the basis of this type of distinction, one can understand some of the reasons for the use of ἀγαπάω and ἀγάπη in commands to Christians to love one another. It would, however, be quite wrong to assume that φιλέω and φιλία refer only to human love, while ἀγαπάω and ἀγάπη refer to divine love. Both sets of terms are used for the total range of loving relations between people, between people and God, and between God and Jesus Christ.

To John, love is the test of authentic discipleship. The Jews centered their faith around the confession of the Shema: “Listen, Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is One. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:4–5 HCSB) and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18b; cp. Matt. 19:19; 22:39; Rom. 13:9; James 2:8). According to John, this was “an old command that you have had from the beginning” (1 John 2:7 HCSB). On the other hand, John was writing a new commandment to them (1 John 2:8–9). For John, love is not just a requirement for fellowship, but a test of salvation. “This is how God’s children—and the Devil’s children—are made evident. Whoever does not do what is right is not of God, especially the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10 HCSB).

If we have a genuine relationship with God, that relationship should be made manifest by walking in the truth. “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers … we must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:14–19 HCSB).

On the negative side, John admonishes the believer not to “love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15 HCSB).

Jesus taught that believers are to love even their enemies (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:27, 35). Although believers are permitted, even commanded, to hate evil (Ps. 97:10; Prov. 8:13), we are not to hate the sinner. To insist that in order to accept a person the Christian must accept sin is unscriptural. Rather we are to reprove the sinner.

Our text is a part of a long discourse that Jesus spoke to his disciples while they were celebrating the Passover for the last time. On what day did this happen? In the church calendar this day is referred to as “Maundy Thursday”. You have heard this term before. But do you know what it means? What does “Maundy” mean?
Word origin of 'maundy' C13: from Old French mandé something commanded, from Latin mandatum commandment, from the words of Christ: Mandātum novum dō vōbīs A new commandment give I unto you. We find its root in words like command, commandment, mandate.
C13: from Old French mandé something commanded, from Latin mandatum commandment, from the words of Christ: Mandātum novum dō vōbīs A new commandment give I unto you
This day is called “Maundy” Thursday because of a command Jesus gave to his disciples on that day.
Before we continue, it bears reminding just how binding a command is especially since many people today don’t seem to grasp just how binding a command is meant to be. We have many laws and commands that surround us. But are they followed?
On the TV news Monday night it was reported in just a short time that at least four motorists blew red lights on a busy street in Milwaukee. You will see people (and some of you do it yourself) fail to come to a complete cessation of movement at stop signs. The person who races down Spring Street in Beaver Dam at 100 mph gets in the news when he crashes and burns but hardly anyone obeys the speed limit anywhere.
Do we read and follow all label directions?
Do we report all income we receive on our tax forms?
Do we work diligently at our jobs when the boss is not watching?
All too often commands are regarded as not much more than suggestions and weak suggestions at that.
This is nothing new, of course. The Bible is very clear in revealing the sinful human nature and our unwillingness or inability to follow even the simplest of commands (cite passages)
Romans 2:1–11 NIV
1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.
Romans 3:10–12 NIV
10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
And if someone has the courage to lovingly but firmly ask us to evaluate our actions compared to clear commands of Scripture, some get all riled up and refuse to be admonished.
And if someone has the courage to lovingly but firmly ask us to evaluate our actions compared to clear commands of Scripture, we get all riled up and refuse to be admonished.
Galatians 6:1 NIV
1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
(NIV)
(NIV)
23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
(NIV)
7 Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. 8 Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. 9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.
One of the hardest parts of being a spiritual leader is having the courage to command what God says knowing full well that there are those who will react by insulting, abusing, and hating and that not all will love, be wiser, and add to their learning. And yet St. Paul instructs Timothy to
(NIV)
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
You would hope that those Timothy commanded responded by being rich in good deeds, being generous, or willing to share. The reality is that some probably went home and about their business complaining that “all the church wants is my money.”
Regardless of how we feel about responding, the fact is that our God commands us in his word in so many ways and that we must confess that we sin when we do not do as we are commanded whether we are ignorant of the command, unwilling to obey, or struggle as St. Paul did who wanted to do what he was commanded but found it hard to comply because of his own sinful nature. “The good that I would . . . “
Jesus certainly has the authority to command his disciples what to do. And even if he did it in a firm way, they would still have been responsible. But I think that Jesus commanded them with a smile on his face and a warm hand of encouragement on their shoulder. Even then, we know that Judas did not comply and at times the others struggled to do what he commanded.
What did Jesus command on Maundy Thursday?
According to some definitions, it is a reference to washing feet and giving to the poor.
John 13:14 NIV
14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.
Maundy
mawn′di, n. the religious ceremony of washing the feet of others, esp. of inferiors, in commemoration of Christ's washing His disciples' feet at the Last Supper—still practised in Austria by the emperor.—Maundy money, the money given away on Maundy Thursday, the Thursday in Passion week, by the royal almoner, usually a penny for each year of the sovereign's reign—the small silver coins specially coined since 1662. [O. Fr. mande (Fr. mandé)—L. mandātum, command, i.e. the 'new Commandment' of John, xiii. 34.]
Although traditional, it is not sound exegetically. The better interpretation is to love one another.
John 13:34–35 NIV
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
This is expanded on in our text: (NIV)
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
We show our love for God and one another in a general but important way: Keep Jesus’ commands. Our goal should be to encourage each other to do so. Gently if possible. Firmly when necessary.
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
The ultimate expression of love is shown in the sacrificial death of Jesus. As we were reminded several weeks ago, as our Good Shepherd, he did not run away when we were at risk but he laid down his life for us only to take it up again. John, listened to Jesus and years later he would apply this passage of how to show love for each other in this way:
1 John 3:16–18 NIV
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
Definition of love.
God the Father publicly announced on several occasions the love that he had for Jesus and which Jesus knew.
Jesus certainly showed his love for his disciples — full extent was in humble service.
Note the connection between love and following God’s commands. If we love someone, we are much more likely to obey what they tell us even if it is hard, costs us resources, is inconvenient. In fact, when we love someone, we will willingly go out of our way to do for them. Truism. We invest ourselves in whom or what is important to us. Think about who you give gifts to. Who you are willing to travel to see? Whom you will change your plans for? It is the people that you love.
Jesus loved his disciples. There can be no doubt. Our God loves us too. As a loving God who has only our best interest in mind, he commands us what to do for his glory and our and our neighbors benefit. We claim to love God above all else. We show that love by willingly obeying what Jesus commands. Amen
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