As many of you are probably by now aware in spite of the mixed of accent I am in fact a Yorkshire man – my mother says “there are two types of people in the world them from Yorkshire and the rest of em…”
Roughly translated if you’re not from Yorkshire you are an other a nobody…
Yorkshire humor, blunt, often said with a tongue in cheek and often insulting – there are many times I have walked away from a conversation with a Yorkshire person shaking my head – “did they just insult me… I thought they were a friend?”
When I ask my daughter who spent some time with my mum a few years back about what she remembers about her – she says this
“Dad your mum scares me, the first time I met her she shook her fist at me – aren’t grandma’s supposed to love their kids…” In a Yorkshire household that is love.
I guess you can imagine then that being a Yorkshire man I am not really into sloppy sentimentality – say it like it is and say it straight. If you’re going to have a go at me do it and don’t butter it up
Yorkshire men tend to hate flowers and sentimentality for no reason…
And Hallmark moments don’t exist in Yorkshire homes…
I think most of you would probably have received a gushy Hallmark card at some time well a Hallmark moment is a sappy emotional appeal, especially one that manipulates peoples emotions.
Its not that I am cold and emotionless, I just don’t like emotional manipulation and I struggle with gushiness.
Why am I telling you this?
Well I guess in the scripture there are some passages which have often been turned into Hallmark moments – 1 Corinthians 13 is a prime example – you hear it and you often think wedding bells – and because of that you can often miss what Paul is actually saying.
Today’s reading is another one that is in danger of being hallmarked too death.
It’s filled with very emotional language and it’s Jesus talking at a very emotionally charged time in his ministry
– he is about to walk out of the room to his death.
So emotion, feeling is high, but please don’t let that emotion overcome you – please don’t take these words and turn them into Hallmark moments
· To do that is to miss something really important.
· To do that is to glance over how Jesus redefines existence for the followers of God
· To do that is to turn the gospel of Christ, a message for the world into a greeting card where people turn around and say, “Awe that’s nice”, put it on their shelf and get on with their lives.
Don’t be fooled just because Jesus is talking about Joy, Love and Friendship he is not talking about that little puppy you had as a child that followed you everywhere and wagged its tail whenever you came home from school.
Don’t Hallmark moment the Gospel…
9"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” Isn’t that nice…
Doesn’t that fill you with warm fuzzies…?
God is love, Jesus loves me, Love one another – Period
Jesus has just washed their feet, is in the middle of sharing a Passover supper, and now Jesus is saying how he loves these guys…
I am sure they were touched by this – unless Jesus was in a drunken stupor saying “I lurve you guys - let’s have another beer” type of love then they would have been touched,
How could you not be touched?
Jesus Loves them – and I guess as we gather round the out skirts of the room I think we can say he’s talking to us too.
Jesus loves you – that’s awesome
But before you run away in the warm fuzzies,
know this – this love is defined by the way the Father has loved him.
It’s Love but not as we know it…
It’s intimacy but maybe not as we would imagine it
It’s Jesus inviting these twelve guys into another level of relationship, but maybe not as we imagined it
So how did the Father love Jesus? – What’s the model for how Jesus loves us?
He had pushed him out of the comfortable confines of heaven down onto earth where, as a baby, Herod tried to kill him,
The Father sends him into the wilderness for 40 days under assault by the devil trying to get his claws into him,
The Father loved him by pressing him into conflict with the super pious and with violent bureaucrats, who plotted to put an end to him,
And the Father loved him by encircling him with friends who were total lemons.
How did the Father love Jesus?
Peril at every turn, demons to be cast out, the sick pulling on him, crowds pressing, a woman yanking the hem of his garment, no roof over his head, and then the worst conceivable end possible – in betrayal, torture and death… but to top it all off the father demonstrates his Love in Abandonment....
It’s not what we would imagine when we think about love
Maybe we would prefer it if Jesus had turned around and said _ “as the Father loves me… well I am going to spare you from that love, I’ll love you differently, I’ll protect you in every situation, no one will ever say anything bad against you, you will love a peaceful and comfortable life.”
When Jesus says “13Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” He means it – he is about to do this for the guys in the room and for us who hang around the outside
Love is about Sacrifice, that’s the love that Jesus has poured out for us abundantly. That’s the love Jesus wants us to offer.
Not all hearts and flowers but giving of yourself for others and if we abide in his love, like he asks us to then His Joy may be complete is us.
We may lose the roof over our heads or be confronted with a change of lifestyle that ruins our comfort levels,
We will have people give us the odd look and by puzzled by our weirdness,
We probably won't get ahead in the world is were prepared to abide in god’s love,
It's hard, unfathomable, something you have no ability to pull off--but you go, and you know the one loving you has been there, and it's so hard, which is why it's meaningful.
And in this not only will we love as the Father loved Jesus, but His joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
Too often we associate Joy with Happiness don’t we!!!
But Joy doesn’t come from satisfaction at being full of stuff,
Joy doesn’t come from winning the race of who has the most toys,
Nor does Joy doesn’t come form a fat bank balance
It comes from the Holy Spirit
– It’s that feeling of I get it
– It’s the feeling of fulfillment
– It’s runs deeper than pleasure;
– It’s the response of something deep in the soul to realizing the depth of God’s Love for us,
– It’s that feeling of freedom, of eternal destiny – that though the whole world is falling apart God has a place for you – Jesus the master builder is marking out a ¼ acre site with your name on it
– In Matthew 13:44, Jesus explains it in the form of a parable
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Why a parable? because it’s so hard to find words to describe it
This runs so contrary to the Pursuit of happiness that so much of the world seeks after.
Its sounds like the same thing but when you dig down deep its worlds apart.
If we abide in Jesus’ love – it might look like we loose – but trust me we win BIG TIME,
Because not only do we get to know that we are loved,
not only does Joy well up in us like an overflowing river but we also get to be called Friends of Jesus, Friends of God.
That is an amazing responsibility and something you should never take for granted.
In the Old Testament two people were called friends of God, Abraham and Moses.
Two amazing individuals who if I was to meet I would just stand there, mouth open. Gorping … What would you say?
Now I don’t know about you but I am defiantly not in their league
– they earned the right to be called friends of God, I am only here by grace.
So friendship with Jesus is not something I take for granted
– Jesus is not some buddy Jesus who I can use and abuse when ever I feel.
Because he calls me friend I call him Lord
Psalm 84: 10, says I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my Godthan dwell in the tents of the wicked.
To be a doorkeeper for Jesus would be the most amazing honor, but when we abide in his love he doesn’t call us servants we become friends.
But that is not the end of the story
- not only does Jesus Love you,
- Not only does Jesus want you to abide in him and receive that Joy
- And Not only does he call you friend
- Jesus also chooses you.
To identify ourselves as chosen…. In our world sounds like absolute arrogance –
Maybe looking into the Greek would be helpful:
In the Greek the word Choose – Eklego has a deeper meaning than whose in and who’s out. It’s chosen to do a task – maybe a better word is selection.
It’s like when you were at school and the two captains picked the sports team. Normally the team Captain would Eklego team members, based on merit – the strongest the sportiest, the best looking, the guy who has the ball…
They would be the Chosen one’s Jesus turns this on its head
When team captain Jesus picks he doesn’t do it on merit, or skill or ability – he picks the weak one’s not the jocks, not the first 15, the first eleven or even the first seven. He chooses the rejects, that’s an amazing feeling… to be chosen when you fully don’t deserve it
I remember being at school when the head boy elections were on – all the staff were told to vote for who they believed should be head boy – I got three votes – three teachers out of 25 thought I deserved to be head boy – I was blown away, the head boy only got 6 votes…
Why he choose me or you I don’t know but I am grateful – I am so grateful, and that is one of the reasons I am more than happy to tell others – my gratitude at God’s lobe for me, has turned into Joy and it overflows…
And maybe that’s why we get picked – because when we respond to God we do so from a grateful heart – when we say yes to God’s YES to us, we are eternally grateful.
But there is more to it
Because alongside Eklego is another word Entello or in English Command.
Entello is not a boss telling you to do this or do that.
It’s not Jesus reverting us back to being servants again, Entello / Command infers a task or a commission.
So we’ve been chosen – which is pure grace – nothing of our own merit, and commissioned – charged with a task… to bare fruit, fruit that will last.
So yes you have been chosen but not so you can sit around and soak in the grace and wait for Jesus’ return - you have been chosen to bear much fruit,
You’ve been chosen to be light in the world – Jesus has a mission for us all that’s why he choose us
- to connect others into the vine
- to connect others to Jesus,
- and through connecting them to Jesus you connect them back into the Father – the source, the root, the sustainer of us all.
If Jesus wanted to win in the religious game - he would have chosen the Pharisees. They were the first 15 of the religious playground, the one’s with the skill,
They were the ones who prayed at least three times a day.
They knew their Bibles.
They worked hard at obeying every one of God's laws.
They fasted once or twice a week to show their religious devotion to God.
Instead he choose fishermen -- known to be crude and foul-mouthed, impatient and hot-headed.
He chose a tax collector -- known to be a swindler.
He chose a zealot -- a fanatical revolutionary.
And he chooses us -- known sinners,
known to be somewhat less than perfect,
known to have all kinds of problems in our lives.
And not only does he choose us but he calls us friends
So go out into this week and share the love – not the soppy sentimental Hallmark understanding of Love – but the love that comes from Joy, the love that pours out of you because of the grace that God has poured over you.