Last Sunday, we heard from the Gospel of St. John, chapter 14, when Jesus said to his disciples, Jesus said to his disciples,
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth,”
In another translation of the Bible, the word Advocate is used. The Greek word is Parakletos, which could be translated as, “one who stands beside you.”
The Holy Spirit, then, is one who gives you good counsel, who gives you advise, and one who stands with you when you face temptations and trials.
Today, we heard from the Gospel of St. John again, this time in chapter 15, verse 12, Jesus said to his disciples, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
The commandment of love is central to the life of a Christian.
You know the Greatest Commandments that Jesus gave, we are to love God with all our hearts, our minds, and our strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
It might seem like a simple thing, to love our neighbors as ourselves, or at least it’s an easy thing to say. When it comes down to action, it gets serious. What does it mean to love one another as Jesus has loved us?
Jesus followed up that statement with this one: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Now this is serious, right? This kind of love is sacrificial. Jesus will indeed lay down his life for his friends. He will allow himself to be tortured and crucified for his friends.
Would you be ready to lay down your life for your friends?
That’s a pretty serious question. If the answer is yes, then you should be considered for sainthood. If the answer is no, then you many want to ask yourself a few questions about what is most important to you.
If the answer is, Maybe or I don’t know, then you probably, like most of us, are seeking a life closer to our Lord Jesus. One thing for certain is that that is a seriously sacrificial kind of love.
Think about this question. Would you be willing to lay down my life for your wife or husband, or perhaps your children? I think most of us would answer yes to that one.
Jesus is willing to lay down his life for his friends, and that includes those who don’t even know him yet.
Who are the friends of Jesus?
“You are my friends if you do what I command you,” said Jesus. So everyone who does what Jesus commands is his friend. And if you do what he commands, then you love one another, and not just those in your family, or your church, but everyone.
I am sure that few of us know exactly what we would do in an emergency situation. I am also sure that our Father in heaven would inspire us to do the right thing, whatever that might me.
Speaking of friends, how do I know that I am a friend of Jesus? That’s another good question that takes some serious thought.
Jesus tells the disciples that they did not choose him, but it is he who chose them. It is the same for each of us here today. We did not choose Jesus, he chose us. And he chose us for his joy, and that his Father’s joy may be complete.
Remember, it was Adam who rejected God, after he had been called forth from the earth. Now, Jesus has called us for his own joy, and that our Father’s joy would be restored to him.
Imagine the sorrow of God that Adam had rejected him. Adam was the first born human, and when Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, it was a sad day for God.
Imagine, too, the sadness the Father experienced at the crucifixion and death of of his son Jesus. Now imagine the joy of the resurrection of Jesus.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” said Jesus.
He continues: “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
Servants comes from the Greek word Doulos which means a servant with a place of honor, not a mere slave. We know what God the Father, the master in this sentence, is doing, and now were are no longer servants because Jesus has called us to be his friends.
We did not choose this for ourselves, but we were chosen by Jesus because we have heard his words, and we have responded. Each and every one of us has been chosen to be here, and the Father has chosen us to be friends of Jesus.
As his chosen friends, we have duties in his church. We are chosen to be ambassadors of Jesus love, that is to model his love to others. When we are in a difficult situation, we can choose to be ambassadors of the love of Christ, or we can choose to ignore that love. The choice is ours.
Jesus goes on to say:
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
Christianity is not an exclusive club where members invite others to be members. The fact that we are called by Jesus to be a part of his family takes the decision about who should be invited to church out of your hands.
We do not choose those who are just like us to be “our kind of people.” We don’t get that choice at all. It is Jesus’s choice who is called.
Again, remember that Jesus chose us, and that is why we are here. We have been appointed to go and bear much fruit. The best way to bear fruit is to live our lives as a Christians, loving and forgiving others, so that others see us and they begin to want what we have.
Jesus has called them, too, most likely, so have faith in what Jesus says. Let us go and bear fruit, the fruit that lasts, so that the Father will give us whatever we ask, in Jesus name. Amen.