Sermon on John 15:12-17 – “Jesus Shows His Love for Us”

Sermon for Sunday, July 5th, 2020 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)

Old Testament reading:

[Deuteronomy 7:6-11 ESV] 6 “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10 and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. 11 You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today.

New Testament reading:

[1John 4:7-12 ESV] 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

Gospel reading and sermon text:

[John 15:12-17 ESV] 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

INTRODUCTION

In John’s Gospel we are continuing in the teachings of Christ which he gave to his disciples on his last evening with them.

So far we’ve learned from Jesus in this “upper room discourse” that we are not to worry because Christ will prepare a place for us in heaven, and we’ve learned that the Holy Spirit is sent as another comforter to us, and we’ve learned that the followers of Christ are to be busily productive in bearing much fruit according to the Word of God and His commandments. And in bearing fruit we must abide in Jesus Christ and depend on him just as the branches depend on the vine for life itself.

These are the words of the Lord to his very friends, the disciples who followed him. While Jesus knew that the disciple would in fact soon abandon him and deny him for a time, nevertheless he calls them his friends. In this Christ shows his love for his disciples, then and now.

In our passage today, continuing in this “upper room discourse” we find a number of ways in which Jesus shows his love for his disciples; a number of ways in which he shows his love for us. We’ll look at these three points:

I. Jesus shows his love for us in calling us friends.

II. Jesus shows his love for us in Laying down his life for his friends.

III. Jesus shows his love for us in choosing us.

First,

I. Jesus shows his love for us in calling us friends.

Three times in the passage Jesus uses the word “friends.”

1. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

2. You are my friends if you do what I command you.

3. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends.

And he proves that we are his friends because he has made known to us “all that he has heard from the Father.” Jesus reveals the Word and will of God to us. Everything that he has been given to tell us, he has told us. And, with the Holy Spirit’s illumination, we can know the Word of God.

To the people you do not know well, you might tell them somethings about yourself, but you are not going to tell them everything. You reserve those personal details for your closest friends.

The disciples were the closest of friends to Jesus. He told them everything! And they wrote it down in the Gospels and the Epistles so that the friends of Christ through the generations and even today can know about the Lord.

So we know that we are friends of Christ because we know His Word.

But to take a step back, we need to consider the word “friend” itself. If we are Jesus’s friends then we are not his enemies. [REPEAT: if we are Jesus’s friends then we are not his enemies.]

While, for our part, we WERE yet enemies of God, Christ died for us, reconciling us with God.

Jesus calls us “friends” and this is great news. He loves us and is our friend even through our sins.

You are liable to lose friends in this world when you sin against them. Given our sin, we scarcely deserve the friendship of Christ, but he shows his love for us and is our friend.

What a friend we have in Jesus. (One of my favorite hymns)

Jesus also shows his love for us in Laying down his life for his friends.

II. Jesus shows his love for us in Laying down his life for his friends.

Here Christ does something that no other man can do. While a man can give his life to save another, that salvation is temporary. All will yet die. But when Jesus Christ gives his life us for, we receive eternal life. We are saved not only for a while, but forever, for good.

Jesus shows his love for us in Laying down his life for his friends. His life was not “taken” but it was “laid down.” Jesus went to the cross willingly. He not only loved us, his friends, at that moment, but had always loved us and had planned from all eternity to do exactly what he did; to die on the cross for the salvation of His people; His friends.

This is part of the doctrine of what we call “substitutionary atonement.” Jesus is our substitute. He took upon himself the sin and death that we deserve.

He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities.

He is the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.

He died for us, and is the propitiation for our sins.

He was offered once to bear the sins of many.

“Substitutionary atonement” is the clear repeated doctrine of the Scriptures.

Jesus shows his love for us in Laying down his life for His friends.

And Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Now, third, Jesus shows his love for us in choosing us.

III. Jesus shows his love for us in choosing us.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you.”

This is first said to the disciples, but it is also for all believers in Jesus Christ.

He did not love us because we first loved him, but rather “while we were yet enemies, he laid down his life for us.”

Jesus’s love for us did not depend on ANYTHING prior on our part.

Consider our Old Testament reading.

Did God love the Israelites because they were great at loving Him? Did God love the Israelites because they were the best, the strongest, the most holy?

“7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

In the same way, it was not because the disciples were the most wealthy persons, or the smartest philosophers of their day, not the greatest warriors that Jesus chose them. They were simple fishermen and tax collectors. Jesus did not love them in RESPONSE to who they were nor because they loved Jesus. Rather, Jesus loved them first and always.

Jesus said, “you did not choose me, but I chose you.”

You might now ask, “But what about ‘free will.’”

Much philosophizing has been done over the subject of the will and whether it is free. But, let us note that the Scriptures do not declare the will to be free. Those who hold that the will is free come to that position not from the Scriptures themselves but from foreign philosophical arguments. And many of them will admit as much. The Bible does not teach free will. Without God working in us, we can do no good, but only evil. We are not free to do either good or evil. We are unable to chose God. The branches can only die apart from the vine.

The will is not free. But, we do each indeed have a will. Christianity does not deny that humans have a will. We deny that it is free. The will is in bondage to sin. The will is not free to chose any way it wishes to go, but it is influenced by all that is around it, even our very nature being sinful. We are “free agents” in that we act uncompelled by external forces. That is, our decisions are our own decisions and we are responsibility for them. “The devil made me do it” is not an acceptable defense.

Jesus said, “you did not choose me, but I chose you.”

And that is why we praise the Lord. He has given us favor that we do not deserve. He is gracious.

He shows his love for us in all these ways: in calling us friends, in Laying down his life for his friends, and in choosing us.

He show his love for us in all the ways so that we know what it is to follow his commandment “love another as I have loved you.”

Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

And he says, “16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

This is the goal he has in mind. So that we should go and bear fruit.

Jesus does not save us so that we just go back to our sinful lives.

Jesus does not call us friend so that we just go back to being his enemy.
Jesus does not choose us that we turn around and reject him.

Rather, Christ’s love is shown to us that we will go and bear fruit, and love as he has loved.

Let’s look then at a couple applications:

1. It is good to pray for fruit.

Jesus wants us to bear fruit, and he says whatever we ask for in the Father’s name he will give to us.

It is not selfish to pray to God for good things for yourself. You should pray for fruit. Pray for joy, for peace, for patience, for kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Pray that the Holy Spirit will work in you to do good works and to love one another.

We are certainly to thank God in our prayers for all that he has done, but we are also to ask him for more, and he will graciously provide for us. It is God’s design, his purpose for us, that we bear fruit. Ask for that fruit!

2. Love even those with whom you have disagreements.

Most simply this is “love your enemies.”

But let us consider that “while we were yet enemies of God he loved us.”

Living according to this kind of love, we should love even those we’ve had some disagreement with.

How willing are we to love those who we’ve had some disagreement with?

Christ was willing to love us even though we were enemies.

Conclusion:

Jesus has clearly shown his love for us. Let us always remember that, and go forward in love of him, loving others as he has loved us.

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