May 10, 2015

Sixth Sunday of Easter

 

“That your joy may be full…”

(John 15:9-17)

 

Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

 

Text:  John 15:11 ~ “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

 

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer.  Amen.

 

Christ is risen!  He is risen, indeed!  Alleluia!

 

Introduction:  Mother’s Day…  Some people swear it’s a conspiracy created by Hallmark to sell cards.  Mother’s Day is not a part of the Liturgical Calendar of the Church, but maybe it should be…

 

From the cross Jesus honored his mother, putting aside his own needs.  As he hung there suffering he took care of his mother, and young John, as they watched, helpless:  “When [near the cross] Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”  Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.”  (John 19:26-27)

 

  1. Jesus was doing all he could to be with his mother. By the Word (in the Sacraments, too) Christ is with his Church, our mother…  (More on that concept later…)

 

  1. Water, Blood, and the Holy Spirit testify of the peace we have with God through Christ

 

  1. From the classic hymn, Rock of Ages:

 

“Let the water and the blood,

From Thy riven side which flowed,

Be of sin the double cure:

Cleanse me from its guilt and pow’r.”

 

  1. Stephen Starke, commenting on his poetry in our Hymn of the Day, “Water, Blood, and Spirit Crying”:

 

“The water and blood rushing from the wounded side of our Savior flow into the life-giving font of Holy Baptism and the life-sustaining chalice of the Holy Supper … The theology of the cross states that God accomplishes His greatest work in the seeming weakness and foolishness of the cross. To look for God, we need look no further than the cross. There we see in stark revelation the depth of His love for a fallen humanity … One of the Scripture passages upon which this hymn text is based is [today’s epistle lesson,] 1 John 5:6-8:  “This is he who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ; not by water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.” The precious means of grace – Holy Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the Word of God – indeed testify to all that God has done for us (and for all!) by Christ’s death on the cross, by which He brings life to our dying world, defying and defeating death itself!”

 

  1. Two or more witnesses safeguard against false statements – as taught in Matthew 18 (“take with you one or two others”) and as established much earlier, twice in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy. Water, blood, and the Holy Spirit – all three testify.

 

  1. “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

 

  1. That our joy may be full… (Not a cheap thrill, but a deep, abiding joy that comes from knowing for a fact that you are loved by God through Jesus Christ.)

 

  1. What are “these things” the Word tells us that brings us full joy?

 

  1. God is love.

 

  1. “Should not perish…”

 

  1. Everlasting life – with all joy.

 

  1. God will wipe away every tear.

 

  1. We love, because He first loved us. (Real joy comes from this!)

 

  1. Because we cherish this relationship with Christ, we obey him.

 

  1. “You are my friends, if you do what I command you.” (Only God can say that!)

 

  1. Remember Context, soyou don’t put the cart before the horse:

Vine and branches:  “Without Me, you can do nothing.”

 

  1. “As if there could simultaneously be in a single heart both a right faith and a wicked intention to continue and abide in sin, which is impossible.”

 

  1. “We do not become Christ’s friends through our own obedience

[THANK GOD!], but we obey him because we cherish our relationship with Him.”

 

  1. Paul is usually quoted teaching about justification, neglecting and obscuring…

 

  1. Paul frequently emphasizes love (even more than John!)

 

  1. Remember, the Holy Spirit chose to work through Paul to write

“The Love Chapter,” I Corinthians 13:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing … So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

 

  1. False dichotomy (faith or works): Faith works.  Christians love.

 

Transition:  Yet we haven’t always worked as we should, loved as we should, honored our mothers as God commanded us to love.  Neither have we always been the sort of mothers and fathers God would have us be.  (This applies to all of us who have any authority at all, even if only as a role model to the children who observe us…)  None of us are guiltless.  We deceive ourselves, if we say we have no sin…

 

So keep returning to the cross, where Christ says to you, “Behold your mother…”

 

III.  “Come home…”  again and again to your mother, the Church.

 

  1. Here in church is where the Word is purely taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered. Here is where you are nurtured in the one who loves you with the greatest love.

 

  1. Here in church is where Christ meets you – in Word and Sacrament. Keep returning to the cross and abide in his Word.

 

Conclusion:  Jesus (through the Apostles) spoke these promises of comfort , giving you in the Church (your mother) the Word of God – proclaimed, poured, and “shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins,” that his joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Amen.

 

The peace of God, which is beyond understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting.  Amen.