In the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear Friends in Christ,
A Father’s Love, that’s the title that I’ve given to today’s sermon. To some, it might seem out of place when most calendars say that today is Mother’s Day. I’m sure in some churches the main focus will be praise for mothers and grandmothers. Fathers will have to take a step back until next month when they get their own Sunday.
My title does not intend to minimize the role of women who as mothers, teachers, or caregivers have given their love to children. It does not intend to exalt the role of men who as fathers, mentors, or guardians have shown their love to children.
I simply want us to hear the words of Jesus that begin today’s gospel reading. “[Jesus said:] “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”” Jesus speaks about the love that his heavenly Father has for him and has poured out on him.
Even as Jesus nears the time of his suffering and death, he still speaks of the Father’s love for him. Even as he faces a plan of salvation where he will be forsaken by his heavenly Father, he still speaks of the Father’s love for him.
Jesus remembers and believes the words of his heavenly Father spoken at his baptism, “This is my beloved Son; in him I am well pleased.” As others turn on him, betray him, and desert him, he trusts in the Father’s love.
As the second Adam, the one who came to take away the sin of the world, Jesus did all things according to the good and perfect will of the heavenly Father. Jesus trusted in the words of the heavenly Father because with all his heart and soul and mind Jesus believed that they came from a loving Father.
Every word from God to the first Adam was spoken out of love for Adam and Eve. When the Lord told Adam to resist the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil it was not a power trip, it was a message of love. When a parent tells a child to stay out of the street or don’t touch the stove, it is not a power trip it is a message of love.
When the first Adam tried to blame others for his sin, including blaming God, the Lord showed love to him by promising a savior who would take away their sins and with it the sentence of eternal death. Sin means forever abiding in hell.
As the second Adam, Jesus received the words of his heavenly Father and he kept them, treasured them, and loved them as what they were. They were the very words of life, eternal life with the Father. Jesus did not pick and chose which words suited him.
Each word, each command, and each promise from the heavenly Father brought joy to Jesus. The joy that Jesus had, the love that he received from the Father he came to give to the world. Jesus came to proclaim good news to the poor in spirit and to set free people from the cruse of the law, from sin, and from death.
The love that the Father gives comes to you through Jesus. Jesus says to you “Abide in my love.” Let me tell you a story about a father’s love, a story that Jesus told about a father’s love that was rejected.
A father had two sons. One son did everything that his father asked him to do. He did it but his heart was not in it. There was no joy in his heart and in doing the will of his father. He lived his life as if he was a servant, a slave in his own father’s house.
In his heart, he did not love his father. In his body, he stayed close to his father, but he did not really abide in his father’s love. He did not understand it or believe in it.
The other son did not love his father either. This son left his father. He did not want to abide with his father in love. He took with him possessions from his father’s house and he squandered them. His life was a mess and finally he decided to go back to his father and plead to become a servant. He prayed that the father’s love would allow him to try to earn a living in his father’s house.
We had two sons who did not know what it meant to “Abide in the love of their father.” At the end, the father opened his arms and welcomed both sons to live with him as sons not as servants. He forgave them. He forgave their sinful hearts, hearts that in their own ways turned away from the love of their father.
In today’s gospel lesson, I was struck by the words of Jesus when he said, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing.” Jesus then said, “but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
Jesus, the beloved Son of the heavenly Father, came into the world to rescue sons and daughters who do not understand the love of the heavenly Father or who reject it. He came to rescue you. You and I are the ones who are born with no joy in our hearts, no love for the heavenly Father, and a heart that wants to run away and do our own thing.
We are the ones who try to follow the law but only because we are afraid or want to look good in the eyes of others. We are the ones who knowingly disobey the will of our heavenly Father when we want what we want.
Yes, Jesus came to make clear the law to us, the will of his heavenly Father. Yes, he came to call us to repent. These are words of tough love that Jesus gives us. Beyond these words, these commandments, these words of tough love, Jesus came to give us words of sacrificial love from the heavenly Father..
Jesus came to tell you that the heavenly Father loves you so much that he sent his own Son into the world to be the sacrifice for your lack of love. Jesus came to show you his love for you. Jesus opened his arms on the cross so that you know that the Father’s arms are open to you with forgiveness and love.
The law of God tells you that you must obey it completely, perfectly, without even a minor slip up. The law treats you like a slave that will be punished for even the slightest infraction of the law. The law does not treat us like a friend or a loved one.
The law convicts you. Whenever you hear the law, you know that you are guilty. Oh, you may try to justify why you broke the law. Perhaps you blame the law or the lawgiver, God himself for making the law so impractical or impossible to obey.
Perhaps you try to bear good fruit on your own. You try to help others but with the ulterior motive of helping yourself. This is not, loving your neighbor, it is trying to beat the system, it is trying to cover up your sins with what you think are good works.
Jesus came to tell you what he has done about the law and what he has done for you. He came to make you his friend, his brothers and sisters, God’s beloved child. Jesus came into the world to fulfill the law. The one who made the law placed himself under the law for you.
What does this mean, you ask. It means that the Son of God took on human flesh and blood to do what you are unable to do. Jesus came to live under that law, to obey the law, to obey it completely and perfectly in your place. Jesus came so that your salvation does not depend on what YOU do, but on what HE has done FOR you.
Jesus tells you, “Abide in my love.” We abide in his love through the gift of faith. You have been given that gift. As John tells us in his first letter, we have been born of God. He through the water and word of Holy Baptism have given us a new life with the gift of faith. He chose you to be his own.
You have been given the means by which that gift of faith will remain with you. Jesus has not kept you in the dark like a servant, he has shared with you the fullness of the heavenly Father’s love. You have heard about the life, death, and resurrection of the Father’s beloved Son. You have heard that all these things happened for you, for your life and resurrection.
On a cross, Jesus gave his body for you, he shed his blood for you. Today he gives it to you again so that you may abide in him and he in you. Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.” These are not idol words. These are the words of eternal life. They are words that have over come your sin and death.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria