SCRIPTURES – Acts 10:34-48; 1 John 5:1-8; John 15:9-17; Ps. 66
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15
You know, Valentine’s Day is declared to be the day when love is celebrated, but I think that Mother’s Day is more appropriately such a day. For, on this day when we remember and honor and give thanks for our mothers, we are focusing on far more than a passionate feeling. We are honoring the sacrificial and enduring love that has given us life and has nourished and guided and blessed our lives.
How fitting, then, that on this day we hear Jesus say: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” You must love; and not only God, but one another. This is not an option; it is a command from the eternal God, the eternal Love. Jesus is commanding far more than a feeling or emotion. He is commanding a work. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends,” our Lord says. Service and sacrifice, following the service and sacrifice that He gave – this is what the Lord requires of us. “Love one another as I have loved you.” This is what you are required to do.
Required; loving others is not an option. It is not something you only need to do when it is easy and desirable. When we are greatly hurt we are tempted to respond, “I cannot forget what he did, and I will certainly never forgive what he did,” but Jesus does not let us have this option. “Love as I have loved you” – at great cost, and to His own harm. This is what you are required to do:
With the heart and will, by not holding onto grudges;
With the mouth, by not speaking ill or bringing up past wrongs;
With the hands, by not holding back your help.
Christ’s costly, sacrificial love is the standard for your love. It is what you must give.
Have you met this standard? Will you meet this standard? Will you love others as Jesus has loved you? You must! This is not a request. It is His command.
The seriousness of His command calls us here. For, to love as Christ loves we must have a greater love than our own. We must live in His love, that we might be renewed by His love. As a mother’s love brings forth love from her child, so Jesus’ love for us will bring forth love from us.
Mother’s Day, and this 6th Sunday of Easter, begins with this message: you are loved! “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you,” Jesus says to us. Now, think about this. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” What does this mean for you?
It means that you are loved with an eternal love, for the eternal Father’s love for His eternal Son is from eternity. God loved you before you were, and it is His love that gave you life and brought you forth.
How fitting it is here to think of your mother. She gave you life and brought you forth – and, boy, how that cost her greatly! It affected her body, which grew and swelled as you grew within her. You mothers can certainly say much more about the difficulty of this than I can! And then, there’s the difficulty and pain of birth. Carol Burnett once described it as taking your lower lip and pulling it over your head. Bill Cosby said that when his wife’s labor pains hit the second time, she stood up in the stirrups, grabbed his bottom lip and said, “I want morphine!”
We can laugh about this. But, there’s nothing to laugh about when it comes to what Jesus went through to bring us forth as children of God. In a sense, He took you within His own body, for your sins were laid upon Him as He willingly took the responsibility for them. The pain of feeling the eternal God’s utter hatred of sin, along with the pain of feeling in His holy flesh and will the perverseness and rebellion of sin, is something that we – thankfully! – will never understand. He gladly endured this that He might make you a child of God, a recipient and giver of His love.
And, as with a mother’s love, it doesn’t end there. In Jesus God loves you with an eternal love. He looks on you with love and mercy and responds to you with love and mercy throughout your life; especially when you struggle to follow Him and love as He loves. There’s no doubt that the love to which Jesus calls us – loving as He loves us – is beyond us. We struggle to forget wrongs done to us and not act on the basis of them. We struggle to forgive at the best of times; and, sometimes, we don’t want to forgive at all. But, there’s a great difference between struggling to forgive and refusing to forgive. As we struggle, Christ is with us with His mercy and forgiveness and strength to help us, just as a loving mother loves and helps and forgives and molds her child. But, don’t push Him away and reject His help by your refusals! You will then descend into anger and God’s judgment, and not His love.
Jesus and His eternal love is your help in your sins and your struggles to love. His loving sacrifice for you upon the cross forgives your sins. They are not remembered or held against you by God, and so they need not burden you. Let them go! Also, His life of love, in which He loved and helped many different people and kept all of God’s commands, is a blessing for us. “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 says. He kept all of God’s commandments, which essentially boil down to two: to love God and love others as yourself. This love, this fulfillment of God’s commands He has given to you.
As a child shares in his parents DNA, and so reflects his parents’ appearance and nature, so we share in Christ. He lives in us, and all that is His is ours!
In Jesus you have God’s eternal love. Live in it with your brothers and sisters in Christ here, and share it with others, whether they are family and friends, or church family and friends, or not; whether they are deserving of it or not. The love and joy of Christ will then fill you, and your love and joy will be full! In the blessed name of Jesus, the beloved Son of God. Amen.