Easter 6 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
May 8, 9, 2021
Acts 10:34-48

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            It is the sixth Sunday of Easter and here we find ourselves back in the upper room on Maundy Thursday as Jesus prepares His disciples for His arrest, crucifixion and resurrection.  The word Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum; command.  Maundy Thursday is command Thursday. 

            In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke the Maundy Thursday account is relatively short, contained in one chapter, and each includes the institution of the Lord’s Supper; Jesus ongoing gift to you of His Body and Blood. 

            In the Gospel of John, the account of Maundy Thursday covers chapters 13-18; six chapters.  It begins with Jesus washing his disciples’ feet.  Jesus explains afterwards, John 13:13–15 (ESV) 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 

            As we read Jesus’ words in our Gospel reading from that first Command Thursday the night is growing late and time is running short.  Jesus’ teaching here in this section is intensely important. Judas has already left the gathering to set up Jesus’ betrayal into the hands of those who would arrest Him, beat Him, mock Him, whip Him and crucify Him.  Jesus’ teaching here is focused and clear.  He gives a new command.  

            What is the command Jesus gives on commandment Thursday. John 13:34 (ESV)  34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 

            Love one another.

            Love.  It is an amazing word that can mean so many different things.  In English we have one word for love, in Greek there are at least four.  The word “love” for us often conjures up lots of sweet images of hearts.  We hear “love” and think first of romantic love.  But there is also brotherly love for our friends and family.  We use the word love to describe liking something a lot; “I love hiking.”  There is love within the family.  These loves come naturally to us.  The type of love that Jesus commands us to have for each other is not a natural love.  It is the Greek word “agape.”

Agape is a selfless love.  A love that loves no matter what.  A love that loves even when the other does not deserve to be loved.  A love that even loves your enemy.  This is the kind of love that Jesus has for you.  Jesus gives up everything for you.  He lays down His life for you.  He offers His own body to the wolf as a sacrificial lamb to pay the price for your sins.  Jesus is servant of all.  Jesus eats with sinners.  Jesus washes His disciples’ feet.  He washes you into His love in the waters of Holy Baptism.  He washes away your sins and covers you with His love and feeds you with His own Body and Blood.  You belong to Christ.  You abide in Christ and Christ in you.

            As a baptized, forgiven, beloved child of God, how should you live?  In the precious moments just before His arrest, Jesus is telling His disciples, and He is telling you, live in agape love.  Live in selfless love.  Strive to love like Jesus.  This is an impossible love.  It does not come naturally from within you.  This love comes from Jesus to you.  As a branch in the Jesus vine, the love of Jesus flows into you.  Jesus loves you unconditionally.  Jesus loves you in your sin.  Lose yourself in Jesus’ love.

            People unconditionally love many things instead of God.  St. John warns in 1 John 2:15 (ESV)  15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  And in 1 Timothy 6:10 (ESV) 10 …the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. … 

            Love can be misused.  Love can be abused.  Jesus’ command is to love unconditionally.  How do you love like this?  John 14:15 (ESV)  15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  In our reading today John 15:12 (ESV) 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  John 15:14 (ESV) 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 

            We have the Ten Commandments from God shown up here on two tables.  How are they broken up?  Commandments 1, 2, and 3 on the first table (recite 3 commandments) and commandments 4-10 on the second.  (recite 7 commandments).  What is the five word summary of the Ten Commandments.  Love God.  Love your neighbor. 

            On that first Command Thursday Jesus gives a deep teaching; an impossible teaching.  Jesus calls you to love like He loves.  Just love like God in flesh; God with us.  You want to cry out in frustration, “I can’t do it.  Just give me a list of five things to do.  Give me a doable checklist that I can accomplish.” But there is no checklist.  Instead you are called to love like Jesus, and when you fail to love like Jesus, He again envelopes you in His unconditional love and forgives you.  When you fail, you receive more love from Jesus and a renewed call to love like Jesus. 

            John 15:9–10 (ESV) 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  

            Jesus loves you with an impossible love and calls you to love others with that impossible love.  It is this impossible love that enables you to forgive someone who does not deserve forgiveness.  It enables you to care for people who are not your responsibility.  It allows you to see others as fellow sinners that Jesus loves so much that He died for them.  If Jesus loves this person, how can you do anything less?    Matthew 5:44 (ESV)  44 …Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

            When you are tempted to love money.  When you are enticed to love the world.  When you are drawn to love yourself more than others. When satisfying your desires becomes top priority…stop.  Stop and ponder the love Jesus has for you.  Love like Jesus.  By nature you want everything to be about me.  Jesus smashes this idea.  Everything is about Jesus and what He has done for you.  Everything is about loving others.  You are to be about loving like Jesus.

            Jesus loves you with an impossible love.  He saves you and blesses you with eternal life. You abide in Christ and Christ in you. Live in this love and love like Jesus. Amen. 

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