6th Sunday of Easter
29 May 2011
St. John's, Chicago, IL
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." Yeah. How's that goin' for you?
When you place another person in your life as the top priority, even if it is your spouse or child, and they are higher in your thoughts and deeds than the Lord, you are an idolater. You have "other god's before [Him.]" You are not loving the Lord and keeping His commandments. In fact, it is an awful irony, that you are making a blessing from God into a curse.
When you don't follow through on your homework or practice your musical instrument, you are not "honor[ing] your father and mother." Then you are just as guilty of despising authority are the criminal who stands in contempt of court.
You fail at keeping His commandments when you get angry and really want to yell at the drunk neighbor or the teenager with the loud hip hop music booming from his car. Your anger is just as wrong as murdering him.
Oh oh! Jesus is saying that this is not loving Him. These are just a few examples of how every day you are failing God. You do not show your love for Your neighbor, which actually means you are not loving God.
Loving the Lord is not merely having feelings for Him. It is not about emotion. It is action. Speaking words, thinking thoughts, and doing deeds of service to Him and to others. It is putting others ahead of yourself all the time, with the Lord God above all. It is such adoration of Him, that you forget about self. That is love!
But you can't love Him. You won't. Your sinful nature actually despises Him. And that is why He makes this promise in today's text. "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth."
You know precisely why we need this Helper. We cannot keep these commandments. We cannot love the Lord. "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him. But the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith."
The work of the Holy Spirit brings about the result of placing you in Christ, and Him in you. And since Christ Jesus is in His Father, now, so are you! The Helper fills you with Jesus, placing Him in your ears through His preaching and teaching of His Word, and in your mouths in the Holy Supper. And He placed you in Jesus when He baptized you.
In these things, these holy gifts, the Helper has filled you with the love of our Savior. He places Love incarnate, Jesus Himself, into you. Not just in some emotional way, but as He enters and touches you with His Word and His Sacraments, He truly goes in and transforms you with His love. And changed by Him, you are given, and you reflect the Father's love.
It began in your life when Jesus kept His promise: "I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you." Refusing to leave you as orphans, the Father in heaven sends the Helper, the Holy Spirit, to rescue you in Holy Baptism. Sin, death, and the devil would leave you and abandon you, to die from exposure in this world. But our dear Lord Jesus sends the Helper to gather you into His family, and be adopted by His Father. He suffered abandonment by His Father as He hung on the cross, so that you would never know that horror. Now you are given the joy of being washed into His family, and being made children of God!
"I will not leave you as orphans." The recent film, Thor, changes the ancient stories of the Norse. Among movie buffs, here is where you see the words: "spoiler alert."
The new film portrays Loki as the brother of Thor, but that Loki was adopted. He had been abandoned as a weak and defenseless infant. Odin picked up this frail child of his enemy, and brought him home, to raise him as his own. Yes, Loki was the son of people who were battling, trying to kill Odin and his warriors. But Odin had compassion on the infant, and made this enemy his son. So a former enemy, then, is in line for the royal throne.
You were conceived and born as an enemy of God. You were then weak and defenseless infants. At some point, our Lord God picked you up, who were His enemies, and brought you to His house. He had compassion on you, and made you His children, by the washing of rebirth and renewal. So now, His former enemies, you are members and heirs of His heavenly, royal family.
Loki was given his name, a new home, and the love of His adoptive father. You have been given the name of God, placed on you in Baptism, given the new home of the Church on earth as you await your heavenly home, and have received the boundless love of your heavenly Father.
"And I will love him, and manifest Myself to him." Jesus loves you. That is the heart of all Christian preaching. Jesus loves and and forgives you! For all that you are unable or unwilling to love God, He forgives you, and makes Himself known to you through His love.
Dear friends in Christ, you have not been abandoned as orphans. Jesus loves you and has sent His Helper to make you His. Rejoice and be glad, as He reveals Himself through His love! Amen.