Sixth Sunday of Easter – Sunday, May 6, 2018

May 6, 2018  

John 15:9-17

“What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!”
(Joseph Scriven, the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”)

We are Jesus’ friends. The thought may seem trite; the thought may seem platitudinous. But Jesus said, “You are my friends…” (John 15:14).

Actually, more completely Jesus said “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:13-14).

Jesus did lay down his life for us, and for the world, which makes us his friends.

What about the flip side? Is Jesus our friend? Are we all friends? Whom do we call friend?

Are we willing to lay down our lives for Jesus? Are we willing to lay down our lives for each other? Who are we willing to die for? Anyone? Family? Friends?

Jesus commands us to abide in his love. Jesus commands us to love one another as Jesus has loved us. It follows then: when we choose to abide in the love of Jesus, we are answering Jesus’ call to love sacrificially. Jesus is calling us to give all that we can, to give everything, to give our lives for him, for his name’s sake.

Can we? Would we? Will we?

In the military dying for one’s country is called making the “ultimate sacrifice.” Are we willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for our faith?

We might think Jesus is making a huge “ask” when he says “Abide in my love.” But he isn’t asking. His words are a command. Are we willing to obey?

In order to obey the command of Jesus, we first need to know the wonder, we need to know the graciousness, we need to know the ultimacy, we need to know the breadth and height and depth of the love Jesus has for us. We need to know his love and we need to know the joy that is in us when we revel in his love. Without that knowledge, without that joy—we won’t ever be bold enough to give all of ourselves in Jesus’ name.

Most of us have lived in love or are living in love. We live in love with a spouse and/or with children. We live in love with parents and/or with siblings. We live in love with close friends, with extended family. “Living in love with” does not require sharing physical space with. I might be living in love with a friend I see every few years. You might be living in love with a family member you see mostly online when you skype or have facetime together. We might be living in love with memories of people who have passed…

The point is, we have or we are or we will live in loves that we revel in. Like a pig playing in the mud, our joy is complete. Like a baby eating his or her first birthday cake. Like a young person with slime… our love “is so-o-o-o good!”

When we abide in love, real love, true love… we are willing to make sacrifices for the person or those people we love.

Jesus calls us to just such a sacrificial love when he calls us to be people of faith.

What shall we give?

James Shaw Jr.’s heroism ended a deadly shooting in a Tennessee Waffle House.

Shaw was sitting with a friend at the restaurant counter… when police say a gunman wearing nothing but a green jacket opened fire outside the restaurant. Glass shattered, dust swirled and Shaw said he saw a man lying on the ground. He bolted from his seat and slid along the ground to the restroom… But he kept an eye and an ear out for the gunman… And the moment the shooter paused, Shaw decided to ambush him… He charged at the man with the rifle and they tussled… The barrel of the rifle was still hot when Shaw managed to wrestle it from the gunman… He tossed it behind the counter and the gunman fled.

“I just want to be put out there like a regular person” Shaw told CNN. (CNN.com April 23, 2018).

What do we do with a story like this?

First, we recognize this as a love story. Somewhere in his life James Shaw was taught to love other people. In the heat of one moment James Shaw chose life for other people, even if it would have meant losing his own.

We need more love stories in our world. We need to teach people the value of life, the value of live filled with love. We need to revel in the love we have with each other, and with Jesus, all loves given to us by a God who so deeply loves us and loves our world.

This may sound trite, this may sound like another platitude, but “Yes, Jesus loves us. Yes, Jesus loves us. Yes, Jesus loves us. The bible tells us so” (Anna Warner, from the hymn Jesus Loves Me This I know”).

Live in his love. Celebrate his love. Embrace his love. Revel in his love. Roll around in his love. Embrace his love. Then go out and show the world how much you love the world because Jesus loves you.

Amen.