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The Jesus Commandments

May 21, 2017

 

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Sixth Sunday of Easter                               Trinity Lutheran Church

21 May 2017                                                  Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

John 14:15-21

 

Well, loads in this text today. I could preach a half dozen sermons from it. I know. I know. One is enough for today. You’re right.

 

So here goes. Let’s focus on these particular words. Jesus says: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

 

Now let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. What I’m about to say is really quite scandalous. Hard to hear. But that’s why you pay me the big bucks. “If you love me,” Jesus states. Love in the Bible is not a feeling. It is a choice. It is an act of the will. It’s not a state of being. You are not “in love” nor do you helplessly “fall in love.” Love is an action directed at another person. YOU LOVE BY DOING SOMETHING.

 

How in the world can you ever love Jesus? Well, it’s only because He has loved you to death on the cross. He has taken all your sin, death and damnation as He hung on the tree. In exchange He has given you His perfection and life. He died to give you His victory over death. This is how Jesus creates love for Him in your heart. You love Jesus when you finally believe that His death answered for all your sin – that He alone is the Savior and that you are not! Then you are not afraid to bring Him the worst of yourself and hide nothing from Him. He invites you to come to Him with all of your burdens to find peace and rest. You love Jesus because He first loved you and gave Himself cruciformly on the cross. His Good Friday love for you is the cause of your love for Him.

 

So, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Now let’s get another thing delightfully straight. The English translation “Keep” does not mean, “obey” like follow the rules. The Greek verb translated as “keep” literally means “to guard” or “to treasure.”  The Lord uses the same verb in Matthew 28 when He mandates the church to make disciples of all nations by baptizing them in the Triune Name and teaching them to “keep / guard / or treasure” everything I have commanded.”

 

Again, I repeat, what Jesus mandates is not burdensome or threatening. I’ll summarize Jesus’ commandments in this way: He mandates that you be forgiven in His name; that you get baptized into His death and resurrection; that you hear His voice in the absolution, the preaching of the gospel, and in the verbal promise that when you eat and drink His body and blood with the bread and wine you are forgiven – that His Good Friday death counts for you and for all your sin. These are uniquely Jesus’ commandments. They are His mandates for you to be saved. Jesus comes as Savior. Savior of sinners. Only what Jesus says is salvific or salvational. And what He says He does and gives.

 

That is precisely why on the night He was betrayed, Jesus says: “If you love me you will cling to, guard and cherish the very things I have entrusted to you for your forgiveness, life and salvation. So that you will be totally forgiven – freed from all your guilt and shame. So that you hang on to My perfect life, draw courage and comfort from my saving name that I gave you in baptism as well as all My Good Friday benefits in the absolution, the sermon and the Supper. If you love me, you will eagerly receive these gifts from me. You will let me serve you, feed you, cleanse you, SAVE you. This is my will. This is my mandate for you: that you walk is the safety of the shelter of my death and resurrection that I did FOR YOU.”

 

So, we all need to repent. Of what? Well, again, this is why you pay me. We all need to repent of loving ourselves more than Jesus. Loving our words more than His. We all need to repent of refusing the Lord’s gifts and resisting His forgiveness. We want to save ourselves on our own terms or with our own self-devised words or works. So we salvifically resort to our doing. To salvational bookkeeping or scorekeeping. Which leads to blowing off what Jesus did on Good Friday, what He promises and gives. That isolates us from the Savior. We choose to live like orphans.

 

Jesus foresaw our day when His humble mandates would be neglected and despised as nothings. He knew that baptism, absolution, sermon and Supper – the very things He instituted and mandated would be abandoned as ancient museum artifacts. He spoke of the times when His own death and resurrection for the life of the world would be denied even by those that call themselves Christian. He could see the unbelief already in Judas who betrayed Hi. It was there in the synagogue that opposed the apostles. It was there in the agnostics of Athens who mocked St. Paul’s preaching of the risen Jesus. And this refusal and despisal of Christ’s work and gifts is still at work in the 21st century. Even among us, yes, here at Trinity, there is the incessant desire to make up our own worship and religion and try to live apart from Christ’s Word and His Body and Blood. We must repent!

 

So, we’re back the Lord’s words: “If you love me, you will cling to my commandments.” This is His will and word FOR YOU. He binds you to His Word and sacraments.

 

Where His Words are going on Jesus is there speaking and giving what His words say and promise. He does not leave you as orphans. Where the Jesus words are going on – the Holy Spirit is going on. “You know Him,” Jesus says, “for he dwells with you and will be in you.”   So too God the Father is present when the Jesus words are spoken, preached and sung. In verse 23, which was not part of today’s text, Jesus promises: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

 

With the words of Jesus come both the Holy Spirit and the Father. Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Him. Here we distinguish the persons of the Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but we do not divide them or separate them from each other. God is indivisible. Where the Spirit is, there is Jesus, and so too the Father.

 

So, finally, you are in the constant company of the Holy Trinity. In His Word and sacraments Jesus brings you into the triune life of God Himself. Jesus prays to the Father who sends the Spirit who then delivers Jesus who then brings you to the Father. You’re never alone. In Jesus you are never apart from God, never isolated, never orphaned. He comes to you. He stays with you. Now and forever. “If you love me, you will guard, cherish, keep my commandments.”

 

In the Name of Jesus.

 

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