Fifth Sunday of Easter
April 28, 2013
Pastor Don Ninmer
“When he was gone, Jesus said, Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”(John 13:31-35)
I heard on the news how government and school officials have decided to make a concentrated effort to stop bullying in schools. We would agree that bullying in schools should be stopped. When we think about bullying, we are thinking about physical or verbal abuse. Often times it is verbal abuse. We agree that it should be stopped. It is not because of a law or a school policy against bullying. It is because it is contrary to the directions that the Lord gives us in the Bible about Christian living and the way that we should treat each other.
There is one thing that I questioned when I heard the news reports about this subject. One of the supporters said that children don’t know when the things that they say and that they do hurt others. So they have to be educated about the things that hurt others. Do you agree with that? I question that. I think that if a first grader says something nasty to another classmate, they know that it is going to hurt. Sometimes it is said because they know it is going to hurt.
When adults say something nasty to each other, they know that it is going to hurt. Oh, there may be times when we put our foot into our mouths. We say something that hurts another without our knowing that it does. That is not what this report is talking about. It is talking about saying something to someone or doing something to someone that we know is nasty and that we know will hurt. If you set a bomb on the sidewalk in the middle of a group of people, you know it is going to hurt. That is the purpose of it.
The Lord has reminded us in the Bible again and again: Watch what you say to one another! We think about those strong words of James: If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. (James 1:26) Watch what you do to one another: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself! (Luke 10:27)
Love your neighbor as yourself. That is the message that Jesus gives to His disciples in the words of our text. Don’t you find it interesting that at this point in His life on this earth He takes time to give them this lesson? The setting is this: Jesus had just washed the feet of his disciples. He said to them: Now that I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done (John 13:14-16) It is not the washing that Jesus emphasizes, but the attitude – one of humility and love.
After that we are told: After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me. It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish. (John 13:21, 26) It was just before He said to Peter: Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times. (John 13:38)
It was then, at the table in the upper room, just before His arrest, trial and crucifixion that the Lord gave a special message to His disciples. What message do you think He would bring them at the crucial moment? In the next minutes He would bring them many different messages. He would tell them: In my Father’s house are many rooms…I am going there to prepare a place for you. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another counselor to be with you – the Spirit of truth… If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him…I am the vine; you are the branches… As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. (John 14-17)
Now it was the first Maundy Thursday. Jesus said to them: My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. They should be glad that they could not come because He was going to the cross.
You might think that this Maundy Thursday evening as He was leaving, Jesus might lecture them and say: Fear love and trust in God above all things. Honor your parents! Do not commit adultery! Do not kill! Do not steal! Do not covet! Do not!! Do not!! But instead He tells them: Do!! A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. It was
Love one another! You see if people truly love one another, then they will not bully or kill or steal or covet or commit adultery or blow each other up with bombs. If people truly love each other then they will “help and be a friend to each other in every bodily need.” They will “help him to improve and protect his property and business.” They will “defend him, speak well of him and take his words and actions in the kindest possible way.”
We confess that we have not always done that. In our families, in our church at our job or in our neighborhood, among our friends, we have not always loved our neighbor as ourselves. For this we ask our Lord’s forgiveness. We remember that on that first Maundy Thursday evening He was preparing to go to the cross to die for our sins, all the times when we have not shown love.
We pray: Lord, fill us with love like yours – the love that led you to die for the sins of the world