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Hockey Game with our daughter… student section… have all the cheers, all the same little games they play with the opposing team. I asked my daughter, what they are saying and she said, you don't want to know.... ooooo
Division is everywhere… and we are starting to like it
We have ours and they have theirs
I was reminded this week of the weekend rule for the Kairos ministry,
Listen, listen, love, love.
Over the next few weeks we will be studying the longest teaching of Jesus. It’s called the Final Discourse… it’s Jesus’s private last teaching for his disciples.
In this teaching, he introduces the foundation for a new community; his kingdom if you will. This kingdom community would be held together, not just by the faith they share in common, but even more by the way they live, at home, at work, at church, with one another and others. This new community would show the world what it meant to live under the rule of God.
It began at what we know as the Last Supper. Y’all talked about that last week, Where Jesus washed the feet of the disciples at what Bill called the worlds greatest dinner party. An act of humility that rocked their expectations of their new king. A king who serves? Who has ever heard of such a thing?
Then Jesus challenged them to wash each other’s feet, and as they served each other, they would experience God’s blessing.
Then, when supper was over, something happened that changed the atmosphere of the room.
Jesus announced that one of them was going to betray him and Judas just up and leaves
This had them confused. Imagine the confusion in the room for a minute. Here they were having a great dinner, at the start of Passover with friends and family celebrating all that God was about to do with Jesus as King of Israel.
Their world is completely turned upside down right now. Trying to understand why Jesus would wash their feet. Why would He say He was being betrayed? Where did Judas leave? Why right now?
In this middle of their confusion, Jesus confuses them even more.
When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
This sounds a little confusing maybe… a little like one of those “who’s on first” stories.
There is a lot of glorifying going on here. What I think Jesus is saying is that his destiny is here. That which he came for is now. And in his obedience to his purpose, God will be glorified in him, in his obedience to God to die on the cross, to fulfil his purpose. And God being glorified in Jesus’ obedience brings glory to Jesus as well. But he had to keep things in perspective.
Just like Jesus, we are to do what we do in order to bring glory to God. Because if we aren’t doing these for the glory of God, we are doing these for the glory of me.
That’s the catch that many get hooked on.
Many people will claim to be a good person… even though the good they do is only for themselves. I help others, when it’s convenient. I am generous, when i’m able. I serve, in places I care about. Who’s getting the glory here? God or me?
When we do things to honor and glorify God, that we are living as followers of Jesus, as his disciple.
That’s exactly what the Disciples thought was required to honor God; to follow Jesus. That’s why when he said:
“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.
We aren’t sure if Jesus was talking about following him to the cross… or following him to death. But either one, Jesus was letting them know this was his purpose. It was his charge, his destiny.
It added to their confusion. They had been following for years. They had left their homes, their families, their businesses to follow Him and now he’s saying you can’t follow any more? What would you have thought? Confused? Hurt? Offended? Absolutely you would be. They are being dumped.
But he left them with a task. This task is what I want to talk about today, because it applies to us today as much as it applied when Jesus said it originally.
Jesus says “I’m leaving and you can’t follow me any more, but you can follow me in another way, you can follow my lead.”
Starting in verse 34, Jesus says
“A new command I give you...”
“A new command I give you...”
We all know what comes next, but first let’s just consider this new command.
It wasn’t new because they had never heard it before. All the way back in Leviticus 19 as part of the Mosaic Law, the people were taught that God commanded them to love their neighbor as themselves.
Loving others wasn’t new, so why did Jesus say it was new?
I believe it is new in that it has a new standard for us to follow and a new consequence for us to remember.
Up until now, the command to love had been limited to us. The law had defined our love by giving us boundaries for the way we treated each other, things we could do, human constraints. We had to leave grain in field for the poor, because we all needed to eat. We had to forgive debts every 7 years because that would limit our ability to take advantage of each other. Loving our neighbor as ourselves was bound in a covenant given to Moses and limited to how we loved us.
Jesus is introducing a new command.
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.
A New Standard
A New Standard
This new command has a new source and a new standard, both established by Jesus. “Just as I have loved you”
How has Jesus loved them?
He has provided for them, he has listened to them, he has been there for them, he has helped them, he has taught, shared, prayed for...
That’s how Jesus has loved them, but think of how God has loved them
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
You see our love for one another, was modeled by Jesus, but it is inspired by God. Specifically God’s love for us.
We know what Jesus’s life of love looked like, because we have God’s word. But how does that translate to our love for one another? What is this love for one another supposed to look?
This same John who wrote the Gospel of John, wrote 4 other letters in the Bible, he described it this way in his first letter:
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.
Love you see wasn’t about how you feel. Love you see, was a verb. How you loved was in fact how you treated one another.
The other writers considered the life of Christ and as they wrote the rest of the NT, they described this love for one another
Serve one another
Submit to one another
Forgive one another
Encourage one another
Restore one another
Accept one another
Care for one another
Bear with one another
Carry one another’s burdens
This is what loving like Christ looks like.
So, are we Christians because of what we do? No… “that’s the I”m a good person lie” rather it’s because we are Christians that we do them.
The writers of the NT, John especially, were pretty adamant that if we can’t love one another, then we don’t know God’s love.
But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
It’s funny, sad actually, what I saw this past Wednesday night. I spoke to a few of the younger kids who were there about what they loved about coming on Wednesday’s and they would smile and tell me...
But then talking to the older kids, I hear them being shaped by the world into callous judgmental people. The kind of people no one wants to be around. Michelle heard one say, “I’ll never forgive anyone.”
Now I get that they are young and trying to figure out life so I praise God that they are getting loved on by our youth leaders.
The fact is, if you can’t forgive, you can’t love. And being able to love only comes from knowing how much you are loved by God.
Do you know how much you are loved by God? Do you realize that God allowed his son to die for you, to restore you to him?
Not only did Jesus establish a new standard for love in this new command; he established a new consequence of this new command.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
This is probably the most remarkable thing about this new command; Jesus actually establishes it as a way for outsiders to judge the faithfulness of disciples.
A New Consequence
A New Consequence
Jesus invites us to be judged.
Normally it’s not fair to compare. I got packages delivered the other day… they brought them to the wrong door. How did I know it was the wrong door? Because no one ever delivers packages to that door. We don’t have a sign, just everyone else does it right, but this guy did it wrong. It’s wrong because he didn’t live up to the ones who set the standard… I know he didn’t know there was a standard, but that’s just the way it is.
Francis Schaeffer, a popular author and speaker, picked up on this new consequence of love. He wrote that love is:
“the mark that Jesus gives to label a Christian not just in one era or in one locality but at all times and all places until Jesus returns.”
This is one of those marks. This is what He gives us.
Schaeffer continues and says it is as if “Jesus turns to the world and says, ‘I’ve something to say to you. On the basis of My authority, I give you a right: you may judge whether or not an individual is a Christian on the basis of the love he shows to all Christians.’”
That’s amazing that Jesus Christ would do this. It’s amazing that He would turn to the world and say, “Hey listen, I’m giving you the right, I’m giving you the authority to judge whether or not somebody is really a Christian by the way they love one another.” That’s remarkable.
The early church understood this. We can see it in the book of Acts, as they were living in this new community of loving one another. The world around them was skeptical of what we believed, but convinced by the way we treated each other. Unbelievers were quick to hire, work for, work with, or live next door to Christians because of they way they treated people.
That’s why they wrote in the Epistles again and again reminding the church to love each other. Because their love for one another was the mark of a true disciple of Jesus.
Let me ask you, what does the world say about the way you love? Would you be accused of loving too generously? If I were to be honest, I’m not sure. I do know that for us as a church, we no longer have the reputation of the early church, where people felt compelled to come and see how these folks loved one another. Instead we are more likely better known for what we are against than who we are for. I want us to be know as being for Rock Hall.
Food pantry is a start, Wednesday nights are a start, crisis fund is a start, small groups during the week is a start… but there is more to do because Love never stops.
Back at the Greatest dinner party though, Peter though in the midst of his confusion of all that was going on didn’t even hear this though. He was still caught up in the fact that Jesus said he couldn’t follow any more.
Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
Peter wanted to believe he would follow Jesus anywhere, but Jesus knew his heart. His problem wasn’t not being able to follow. It was not realizing his love was limited.
That’s why Jesus said you can’t follow me right now.
But soon, he would be able to follow. Soon he would stand up and tell the world that he was a disciple of Jesus. Soon, he would call the church to love like Jesus… just as he was loving them.
But it would take something special.
An infilling of the Holy Spirit which was a gift of God, given in response to their faith, which came as they spent time reflecting on all that God had done for them in Jesus.
New Community - New Love
New Community - New Love
Imagine what it would look like if we all loved one another like this.
What would our community think as they argue about impeachment and fake news, who gets credit for successes and who gets the blame when things go wrong.
What would a community that just loved one another, in spite of their mistakes, in spite of short comings, in spite of habits, in spite of hangups; what would a community like that look like?
Do you know it’s possible? God can create that here. God can create that by doing something in us… changing us. It starts with me. Changing me.
If that’s the sort of life you want, If you want to live a life of love like that, then Jesus invites you to his table today.
The Lord be with you.
ALL: And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
ALL: We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
ALL: It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
Father, You created us in Your image to represent Your love here on earth through our relationship with You and each other. But rather than live as a reflection of your love to one another, we chose to divide, rule, condemn, judge, and punish.
But even though we have failed to love You, Your love remained steadfast. You delivered us from captivity to sin and death, You made a covenant to be our God, and You continued to lead and encourage us through the voices of Your prophets over the centuries.
And so, with Your people on earth and all the company of heaven we praise Your name and join their unending hymn:
ALL: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Holy are You, and blessed is Your Son Jesus Christ. By the baptism of his suffering, death, and resurrection You gave birth to Your church, delivered us from slavery to sin and death, made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit, and gave us a new command to "love one another." We gather today to remember and claim this extravagant love.
On the night in which he gave himself up for us, He took bread, gave thanks to You, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said: "Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this is remembrance of me."
When the supper was over, he took the cup, Gave thanks to You, gave it to his disciples, and said:
"Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, In remembrance of me."
And so, In remembrance of these Your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ's offering for us, as we proclaim the mystery of faith.
Christ has died;
Christ is risen;
will come again.
Pour out Your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood.
By Your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at His heavenly banquet.
Through Your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in Your holy church, all honor and glory is Yours, almighty Father, now and for ever.
THE LORD'S PRAYER