6th Sunday of Easter

by Crossings

Keeping Love, And Loving It
John 14:15-21
(Sixth Sunday of Easter)
analysis by Michael Hoy


15″If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of Truth, who the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. 18I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”


Step 1-Initial Diagnosis: Love’s Demands/Commands
Jesus envisions his disciples to be loving followers in “keeping his commandments.” That may not be perceived as an invitation for which there are many immediate takers. In the glaring light of God’s command to love one another, our more basic inclination is toward self preservation. A self-emptying, godly-love-like-Jesus’ love carries us into the arms of powers external to ourselves. Will these powers be merciful? Our experience of the world teaches us otherwise. Such loving is too risky, and we will not bet our lives on it, because we fear (rightly) that we can not heal ourselves. We will only go part-way to the cross for another before we turn aside-i.e., part ways-and save what self we have left.

Step 2-Advanced Diagnosis: No Longer Seeing
The divine demand given voice in this text rightly causes us to despair. But what’s worse, Jesus connects our love for one another with his own presence or absence in our lives. Even as our love for one another is our love for Jesus, so also our failure to love says much about our failure to love or trust in God. What is really taking place in the heart is an adoption or acceptance of the world’s kind of loves, but this spells lovelessness for anything and anyone that stands in the way of the world’s agendas. The gospel calls this worldly malady our “no longer seeing” Jesus. And there is no indication about how long this “little while” of our “not seeing” may last — though it certainly is evident in our unbelief.

Step 3-Final Diagnosis: Orphaned
In forsaking one another for our own self-preservation, we have not only let others become as orphans, but we have ourselves become orphaned. Our problem is not simply our ability or inability to love. Nor is it simply that the powers of the world are stronger than us. As Luther once recognized in the war against Ottoman’s empire, there is more to fear than other worldly powers. God is operating behind these hostile powers. The world can not receive God because he has indeed made himself absent to children who insist on being their own parents, and who persist in their loveless ways. The wrath of God consigns humanity to tail-chasing antics. If we will look only to our self-preservation and self-dependent initiatives, God will let us reap our own rewards. Our fears of dying in love for others is not a deterrent to the fate of death or its consequences.

PROGNOSIS: Loved beyond Lovelessness

Step 4-Initial Prognosis: Because I live, you also will live
But what if the hostile powers, even God’s critical consigning of humanity, really does not defeat the loving Jesus whose love takes him to death on the cross? When Jesus rose, he pulled the teeth out of the hostile powers. It is not the end of Love, but the end of the hostility of death and defeat. Jesus the Christ has broken through the shadows of a loveless world through his passionate love for all to behold. “I will not leave you orphaned,” Jesus says. His love will stand with (abide with) the abandoned, so that forgiveness and life are the final word for us.

Step 5-Advanced Prognosis: Abiding
We do not ponder this abiding of our Lord as distant spectators. He lives in us and we in him. The resurrection is for us, and it is power of our lives. The Advocate is the power of the resurrection today for us: he is the life-giving breath from the cross who never fails to make us new. We are not orphans; the Advocate convinces us that the Father’s love for the Son is also his love for us. Through the Son, we have been rejoined with our true parent and source of our being, and our faith is renewed in the power of Jesus’ death-and-resurrection-love. When God looks upon us, we are beheld as those not in sin but as brothers and sisters of God’s beloved Son. Through faith, we too “see” this new status of abiding love.

Step 6-Final Prognosis: Keeping Jesus’ commandments (loving)
While with our eyes we may behold a world broken, evil and dying (and ourselves with it), through faith we behold the resurrection victory beyond the cross. The real power for living and loving is in the cross of our Lord, who has stepped into our orphanage and freed us to step into the orphanage of the world. As Jesus’ love does not turn aside from us, so our love for the world is saving the world — so are the generations of Christ’s love for us and for one another.


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In the early 1970s two seminary professors listened to the plea of some lay Christians. “Can you help us live out our faith in the world of daily work?” they asked. “Can you help us connect Sunday worship with our lives the other six days of the week?”  That is how Crossings was born.


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