Have your Mother's Day sentiments worn out yet The day was almost two weeks ago. I sure hope not. If they have, just take a moment and think about the love of a mother.
As we study John 15 and hear Jesus tell us, "Remain in my love," I pray that we realize the value of that command.
Last week we looked at how he told us that we remain in his love by doing what he says. Today let's see what he says. Verse 12: "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."
That's his command. Love. Think of this. If God had said that you could have heaven forever if you would just skip food once a week, or do 100 pushups - or even give up all your money, to get to heaven, you'd agree to do any of those. If I had a million dollars that would be yours if you'd crawl across the parking lot on your knees - you'd do
it, wouldn't you? And heaven is better than all the millions in the world.
So why wouldn't we obey this command? Just love each other. And actually, that's better for us anyway. That's way better than holding grudges and getting even. That's way better than feeling unappreciated and taken advantage of.
That's way better than the stuff that normally defines our human relationships. So just love.
But it's so hard, isn't it? I'm sure you could quickly come up with a list of people in your head you are holding a grudge against. Just seeing them turns your face or at least your spirit sour. I know - certain people have hurt you too much for you to want to help them. It's hard to love, but don't miss the last part of Jesus' command: "Love each other as I have loved you."
This is where we get to the "why" of remaining in Jesus' love. Jesus puts it well in Verse 13: "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Jesus didn't wait for us to say we were sorry. He was praying for our forgiveness even as we were pounding the nails in his flesh. Jesus didn't look for us to be "good enough" to be worthy to be his friends - he gave his life so that he could change ours and make us worthy. He gave up everything for you even when you were fighting him. He loved you.
I realize I haven't met most of you, so you probably don't know my mom, but when I think about what she did for me...When I think of what she sacrificed for us...She gave birth via natural childbirth for all 14 of us, one at a time.
That right there would be enough - but then, she changed our smelly diapers - cloth and pins for most of us. I think of the nights she didn't sleep because we couldn't. I remember the vomit she caught, the germs she contracted, the messes she cleaned up. I think of the early mornings she got up to help teach us responsibility with our 5 a.m. paper route and the late nights as she waited to make sure we were all in safely. I think of the guff she took from church members for the times we misbehaved, the guff she took from us during our teenage years when we didn't want to hear her advice. I think of how she didn't do what she wanted so she could give us what we needed. So yes, we love her. And my kids could tell you much the same story of my wife. I'm sure you each have your lists too.
The sacrifices moms make are huge and we are right to love them for that. But compare those with the sacrifices Jesus made for you. He cleaned up the vomit of our sin. He felt its sickness and its pain. He gave up his pleasure at the right hand of the Father and became a slave here instead for the times we don't obey. He took the punishment that you had earned and the guilt and fear and shame we piled up and willingly bore it all to death. And then he rose to prove that it is all gone. So, why remain in his love? Because you just can't get better than that. He treasures us more than his own life.
He changed our relationship with God from that of slaves to that of friends. Now, moms certainly have a ton of impact on who we are - making us better people; but Jesus made us perfect. Jesus made us God's children. So Jesus calls us friends, and promises to answer when we call on him.
Dear friends, Jesus loves you. In fact, in Verse 16 he says, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last."
Remain in that love.
Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Worship every Sunday is at 10:30am. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.