In today’s Gospel reading Jesus says, Those who obey my commandments are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them, and I will love them. And I will reveal myself to each one of them. John 14:21 [all scripture quotations are from the New Living Translation]
This is an interesting verse. It is one those simple, yet core, verses about having a relationship with God Almighty through his only Son, Jesus the Christ. If we want to know God, here is the way. Actually, this is what Paul was talking about when he preached in Athens as described in the first reading today, Acts 17:15-21.
Anyone who truly wants to know God must decide for him/herself that God’s expectation of each of us as a human being is going to be foundational for life, day by day, moment by moment.
Let me refer you to another verse in John’s Gospel which reassures us that to make God’s expectation of us our daily guide is a safe, wholesome, life-giving decision. The verse is in John, Chapter 3: 16-17 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.
When we decide, day by day, moment by moment, to express our love for Jesus in all that we do, think, and say, we will be deciding to follow the commandments he has given us, and in so doing, we will be proclaiming our belief that he is God’s only Son, which means that vs 16 of Chapter 3 applies to us — we can look forward to eternal life with the One who loves us and Whom we have loved each day.
Someone might be thinking — what does Jesus mean when he says that believers will “obey my commandments”? What commandments did Jesus give his followers? Verse 17 in Chapter 15 of John’s Gospel is a concise and straight forward answer: I command you to love each other. But what does “to love each other” look like? The answer can be found in the Gospel of Luke 10:25-37, the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
When Jesus asks the legal expert who would you say was a neighbour to the man who was attacked by bandits, the man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” (A side note to this Parable is that the legal expert felt so unloving toward the people of Samaria that he could not bring himself to even say the word Samaritan when identifying the man in the Parable who showed mercy/love.)
The point Jesus makes is that we are to respond, as we are able, to a needy person regardless of who they are.
At this moment you and I are witnessing an outpouring of love, concern, mercy, for all people who are living in Canada, as well as people living in other countries. We, as a country, are shouldering a large debt in order to ensure that people can put food on the table, receive needed utilities and shelter, and rebuild hope that there will be jobs in the future, as well as providing the medical and health care appropriate to their needs. We are putting into action, day by day, what Jesus commanded us to do,
to love each other. My hope is that once COVID-19 is defeated we will not return to the way things were before; rather, we will continue to build a society and an economy that honours what God expects of us, of all human beings.
Can we do this?
Yes, we can, because we are not alone in a dis–ease infected world. In John 14, verse 18, Jesus says,
I will not abandon you as orphans — I will come to you. Jesus comes to us today in the Holy Spirit, the Encourager, who leads us into all truth. With the encouragement and guidance of the Holy Spirit we will find the path forward which God prepares for us to walk together. As the current tag says, “...together we will get through this” and, I add, enter into a new phase in the world’s development. This is a challenging, but also, an exciting time in which to live.
Let us take up the challenge and follow Jesus our Lord as we live out his command to love one another, even as he has loved us; to the glory and praise of God Almighty. Amen.