This is Love!

Easter Sunday 6B, May 13, 2012
Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA

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This is love!  What is?  This!  What… this?  All of this!  The fact that we are actually here on a Sunday morning, gathered around God’s  Word hearing about His love; the love of the Father for the Son, the Son for the Father, and God’s love for us!  What?  I don’t get it!   Exactly, and that’s why we sang the hymn, “My Song is Love Unknown.”

How could we ever truly understand a God who is love, loving each of us who are loveless?  How can we understand a God who comes  to us in our flesh, lives, suffers and dies so that we will not only know love, but be love just as He is love?!  Oh who am I that God should  not just die for me, but invite me into life, His life of love unknown?  Who are you that God should love you that intensely?  And yet He  does!  This morning let’s look into this relationship of love that the Father has invited each of us into.

First there is the model love itself, which is God!  “God is love”—perfect and eternal love.  This is the love the Father has for the Son and  Spirit, and the Son and Spirit have for the Father.  This kind of love isn’t reciprocal or growing, it is real and abiding love that is simply  the nature of God, one God who exist in three persons who are each equally love!  And it is this love of God that sent the Son of the  Father to reclaim sinful man; to bring all of mankind back into God’s relationship of love!

The Son comes to sinful man because of His love for His Father.  He becomes one of us, so that He can teach us love, by demonstrating  love; love that the Son has for the Father!  Love that keeps God’s commandments of love!  There are only two commandments of love,  and Jesus came to teach us that they are not burdensome. [1 John 5:1-8]  He came to demonstrate what love for God and for neighbor is.  The Son loves the Father—and that means that He keeps the commandment that Father gave Him.  He loved His Father by coming to us, and He loves His brothers, you and me by dying for us!

So love is obedience; doing the will of the Father simply because God is love.  “This is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” [1 John 4:10] He came to die for us!

Jesus was obedient to the Father’s will because God is love and God loves those that He has created in His image.  God loves you!  God created you in His image but your sin has destroyed that image.  So God the Father sends His Son to become your brother so that He can save you; redeem you through the suffering and death of His Son.  Only Jesus, God’s own Son could do this great thing for you because only God is love, and Jesus is God!

Jesus comes to us because of His love for us.  Just as Jesus alone chose who would be His apostles, it is Jesus who chooses you, because Jesus is God and God is love!  So Jesus comes to us not as an angry God who will order His servants to serve with fear and trembling, but as a loving God who calls us friend, so that we will trust and obey; so that we will love.

Think of this for a moment.  You did not choose God, but He chose you; while you were a loveless sinner, Christ died for you!  And because your sinful flesh always wants to ask how and why, Jesus lived to die so that you could learn the how and why.

Jesus alone stoops down to us to serve us His slaves.  The Creator of the universe stoops down to wash the feet of His creation.  The Master of all creation becomes a servant by taking on our flesh and dying in our flesh.  In the upper room, on the night of His betrayal, knowing that soon He would be betrayed by those He loves; knowing that He would be attacked and killed by those He loves; “knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, (He) rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” [John 13:1-17]

On the cross, Jesus would give one last example of this precept of love.  He would teach that love is demonstrated in obedience; His obedience to the will of the Father; His obedience to suffer and die for the world… for you!

This is love, not that we love God but that He first loved us.  And because He loves us by coming to us we love Him!  We love our Master who became our servant in death, and because we love Him, we remain in His love.  We abide in His will, in His church, in His Word and Holy Sacraments.  We learn simply as we are taught, we learn to abide in God’s love by turning to Jesus and trusting in Him alone.

We abide in His love through Jesus Christ by admitting first that we need His love.  We need His love because we do not deserve His love.  We don’t deserve His love because we are sinners.  That is who you are… that is who we all are!

We abide in His love when we confess our sinfulness and receive His undeserved love and forgiveness.  We abide in His love when we celebrate the fact that He is an on time God, who always meets our needs.  We abide in His love when we rejoice in a love that has found us; a love that is greater than all things, even our sin, our death, and the devil!

We abide in His love but we also keep His commandment to love one another as He has loved us!  Because God’s love through Jesus Christ has overpowered our sin, and because He has recreated us in our baptism back into His image, we celebrate by becoming the servant of all, just as our Master has done.  We go out of our way to meet the needs of others and the needs of God’s church.

I guess, our love is a little like a tennis game.  We give our love to each other, back and forth like the ball is volleyed back in forth during a tennis match.  In tennis, however there is always a winner; so maybe the analogy falls short, but then again maybe not.  I mean, couldn’t we think of our match of love ending with no winners.  In tennis, when you finish with no score, they call that love.  You might hear a report of a tennis match like this: “He won that round, 40/love.”  So we could say that our match of love ends as love/love.  God’s love for us and our love for each other wins the day!

Dear friends, our love for God and each other is unknown to the world.  But we know that it is a love that can only be realized, taught, and learned through Jesus Christ.  And that love  comes to us from heaven to the cross, to the empty tomb, through the Word of the Gospel, the waters of baptism, and then into our hearts.  Yes Lord, our song is love unknown, our Savior’s love to us.  Love to the loveless shown so that we might also love.  Oh who are we that for our sake our Lord should take frail flesh and die for us, for even me?  In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost AMEN!

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