Sixth Sunday of Easter

by Crossings

The Friends Of Jesus
John 15:9-17
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Analysis by Michael Hoy

9As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12″This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.


DIAGNOSIS: Slaves

Step 1-Initial Diagnosis: Not rejoicing in love
“I do not call you servants [or slaves] any longer,” Jesus said to his own, chosen community. In an age where “servanthood” can have a bad name (i.e., via submissiveness, abuse, and oppression), that may be welcome news. Those kind of relationships are, to be sure, diminishing — not enhancing — of community. The larger problem of slaves, however, is that they are “en-slaved” to a blind obedience. They are not given the whole scope of things. They do not make decisions. They merely follow along in a kind of legal obedience to their master. Jesus is not that kind of master, though the Law can and does enslave many in that kind of blind obedience. But in the process, the one who is getting served is only getting served for the sake of the slaves own skin. There is no community of love there. Just ourselves, and our obedience — our joyless obedience.

Step 2-Advanced Diagnosis: Not-knowing
Such slaves, says Jesus, “do not know what the master is doing.” That is the deeper malady. It is not only that they are joyless and loveless in their individual actions (even their “do-goody” actions). They do not know Jesus’ business — what it is that Jesus is really all about, for them or for the world. Within the church’s own community there is a lot of business that is getting carried out (or maybe not much at all), but that is no guarantee that it is “in Jesus’ name.” Even when or if “the name” is invoked, the message and actions — under the law, legalistic, joyless and loveless — may belie “the name.”

Step 3-Final Diagnosis: Not chosen
Such ignorance of unfaith spells the most critical turn: slaves do not have an “abiding” relationship with the Jesus or with the Father. As such, they are not chosen. And the choosing is only a one-way street-from God/Christ to us — not a matter of our “free will.” The danger is that we are no longer “in” the community, no longer living under Jesus’ blessing and ownership.

PROGNOSIS: Friends

Step 4-Initial Prognosis: Chosen
Jesus, however, is the one who chooses his friends from such kingdom-community outcasts. His manner of choice is by “laying down his life for his friends.” Through the laying down of his life, we are grafted into the promise, there to abide as his friends. We are chosen to be his friends by his free gift of love — and all of this in his own joyous obedience to his Father’s will.

Step 5-Advanced Prognosis: Abiding in the Choice
Because we are chosen, we get to abide in the choice of Jesus. “My [Jesus’] love” becomes our love, abiding in Jesus’ love and living in Jesus’ new commandment. The commandment is new because it is not a commandment of “do this and you (singular) will live,” but “you all (plural) love with my kind of love!” “My [Jesus’] joy” becomes our joy, brought to completion. Jesus seeks the completion of our joy in faith. And we, reconnected to Jesus, are reconnected to the hearing of the Father’s promising plan. We live in the choice that Jesus the Christ has made for us!

Step 6-Final Prognosis: Bearing fruit, in love and joy
And the fullness of the promise that we get is that we get to keep on living it: bearing the promising fruit of love and joy in our daily living. Among those who have come to pluck the fruit that has led to a life of enslavement (cf. Genesis 3) there comes the promising “appointed” ones of Jesus’ community who abide-and-remain-in-Christ-by-faith to bear a fruit that brings new life. And it comes to one and all from the One who staked his own life on its promising fruit. Who knows just how full the community of faith-abiders may become as they eat of this life-giving fruit!

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  • Crossings

    Crossings is a community of welcoming, inquisitive people who want to explore how what we hear at church is useful and beneficial in our daily lives.

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