Sermon Notes for 7th Sunday after TRINITY 31 July 2022 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17 These things I command you, that ye love one another. 18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. 23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. 26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:12-27)
We all have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of us are locked in a relationship of belligerence and war with Christ. Some are in a very casual and ineffectual relationship. But these kinds of relationships do not gain for us the favor and grace of God. Our relationship with Christ must be that of a friend, a brother of sister, a servant, and a soldier under His High Command.
What relationship do you enjoy with Christ? Is it effectual and worthy of His favor and love? This is the most important questions of life. Do we not just know of Christ, but do we know Him as a friend, brother, Lord, and Savior?
In the 12th Chapter of the Gospel of St Matthew, we see Jesus preaching and teaching the multitudes when His mother, brothers and sisters came and stood without the gate to speak with Christ. 46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. (Matthew 12:46-47) There is some suggestion in this incident to shed light on the spiritual relationship that the immediately family, including His mother, had with Jesus. Yes, He was their brother and her Son in a corporeal sense, but not necessarily a spiritual affinity to all that Christ taught. We do not see His mother, Mary, following hard after the disciples to hear the preaching of her Son. She was more concerned, as a mother, for His physical welfare than the seemingly troublesome Gospel He was preaching.
The next actions of Christ reveal a great deal about the proper spiritual relationship we should have with Him: 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Matt 12:48-50) The close relationships of Christ are those who hear and do the will of the Father – PERIOD. By implication, the immediate corporeal family of Jesus did not fit into this scenario. It may have been after the crucifixion and resurrection before His mother, Mary, came to know the full magnitude of who her Son truly was. The appearing of the Great Angel Gabriel seemed almost like a dream of ages past to poor Mary.
Now we come to the occasion of the text for today. We are given three factors of the work of God that are relevant to the text – The conditions of Relationship in Christ, The Comfort to be enjoyed even under the World’s Persecution, and the Work of the Holy ghost and of the Apostles.
- The Condition that must be met:
Jesus lays out the one condition that establishes our Election in Christ and sustains that Election: it is the simple four-letter word – LOVE! It bears such a heavy weight as His royal Commandment that it is the one Commandment upon which all others have their foundation. It is, in brief, a Circle of Love: God loved us before we loved Him. “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) We owe God a DEBT of Love. Now, to qualify that love that we have reciprocated to the Father, we must love those others who likewise love the Lord. It is the very BANNER of Love under which the people of God march, and there must be a mutual love of all who march under that BANNER. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
We use the term love a bit too casually in our day. We claim to love chocolate ice cream, dogs, horses, roses, etc.; but that is not love. Who would die for an ice cream (though I am tempted)? Or a dog? Or a rose? Love is an overruling sentiment that dictates all else of our being. We certainly WILL die for that which we love. Christ did, and so should we if the circumstances warrant. If we say we love our fellow Christians, do we? Do we love them as we are commanded to do by Jesus? And how does Jesus say we should love each other? Just as He has loved us and gave His life for us. That is not a casual love, is it? He tells us of that great love in verse 13 – Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. This is the standard of love required. Do you have it?
- The Comfort to be had even in the Persecution of the World: The athlete who survives a particularly bruising game
of football, or the ballerina who suffers a ruined performance that deprived her of the crown, may take a particular pride in duty well performed as God has given them the Light to do so. Persecution of the world takes an even more somber aspect of injustice. Though we may have conducted our lives with greater righteousness than can be humanly expected, yet we suffer an injustice of being punished for doing good. Such an injustice can be overwhelming to those of little faith; but to those whose faith is grounded on the solid Rock, there is an immense consolation in being unjustly tortured and beaten. The satisfaction comes from the sure knowledge that we have, indeed, taken up our cross and followed Christ – all of the way! Christ’s counsel rings loud and clear: 18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. 23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
It is interesting to note the reciprocity of sentiment expressed by Christ in His discourse. God loved us first; therefore, we are able to love Him. On the other hand, the world hated Christ first; therefore the world hates us as well. There is unity of both camps. The hate of the world is united against Christ and His people while the Kingdom of God is united under that banner of love discussed earlier. All of the work of a servant is truly the work of his master. It is the will of the master that is operative in the labors of the many servants of the household. If the master is well loved among the community, the servants will be identified with that love as well. If the master is treacherous, his servants will be treated as treacherous. Whatever praise or ridicule belongs to the master will be visited on the servant. But one wayward servant does not cast dispersions on the master. Christ is our Master. It is His Person represented by every member of His household. But the estate is called by His name and not ours.
The enemy on the battlefield neither knows, nor desires to know, the name of the common soldier of the line; but you can be assured that they desire to know, and DO know, the name of their Field Commander against whose mind they plan their assaults. Christ is the Captain of our Soul. Wherever He is hated, you will be hated too. If they show no mercy to our Leader, do you suppose they will be more respectful of his followers? To be hated by the world without a cause may bring no comfort at all; however, when we are persecuted for Christ’s sake, we can know that He is aware and loves us the more.
- The work of the Holy Spirit, and of the Apostles: The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, is sent to open our eyes to
the Beauty of the Lord. He reveals truth to us that we may know in our heads, but NOT in our hearts. You will note that the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to “testify” of Christ. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26) The Lord has given us a reading assignment that will be our food for learning by way of the Holy Ghost. We note that the Holy Ghost is sent by the Father in the name of Christ. We further note that the Holy Ghost will teach us all things of which we may have read in Scripture, but not understood. We also note that the Holy Ghost will “bring all things to our REMEMBRANCE.” How can we be reminded of something in Holy Scripture if we have not even taken the trouble to have read or studied it in the first place? We have a somber duty here to perform. As good soldiers, we must take our training, bear our weapons, and don our armor. Dare any of us to go into the heat of battle bearing no arms or wearing no armor of defense?
In conclusion of our message, we must again consider our relationship to Christ. Are we His friend as He is our friend? Do we love Him as He first loved us? Are we the ones who hear and obey the Commandments of the Christ? “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” Have we done? Without grace, we could not have chosen Christ, for it was He who chose us long before we even knew Him. If we are the children of God, and God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, are we not likewise brothers and sisters of Jesus? “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Now, once more, please ask yourself the question: What is MY relationship to Jesus Christ?