Sermon: Do you love Jesus?

Text: John 14:23-31
Pentecost, Series C
Listen to the sermon here.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

What do we mean when we say we love someone or something? Generally, it means we regard that person or thing with affection – we cherish or take pleasure in it.  We love a friend. We love our parents, spouse, and our children. We love to rest in the cool shade in summer. We love a warm fire in winter. We love to hear our favourite music. So, do you love Jesus? Do you regard Jesus with affection? Do you cherish and take pleasure in him? I would not be surprised if nearly everyone here would eagerly reply yes.  Being a Christian involves a whole lot of things. It’s possible to lack some aspects of Christian character and still be a Christian. But you can’t be a Christian if you don’t love Jesus. Love for Jesus is so essential that lacking it is spiritually fatal. If you are a Christian, you love Jesus Christ. On this Pentecost Sunday, we’re going to ask what does it mean to love Jesus and what is the Spirit’s role in all this?

Love for Jesus means keeping his Word

In our Gospel reading for this morning, Jesus tells us that those who love him will keep his Word. Jesus’ words are not his words alone. The words of Jesus are the Word of God the Father himself, the One Who Sent the Son, Who spoke to his Son. Then what does it mean to keep his Word? Keeping Jesus’ Word means knowing it, believing it, and doing it.

If you’re going to keep Jesus’ Word, you have to know it. Later that night Jesus said, “All that I heard from my father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Do you want to know what Christ heard? You can’t keep Christ’s Word if you don’t know it. What about those parts of Scripture that are hard to understand? Our daily and weekly lives reveal what we honestly think of God’s Word. Do you have the habit of neglecting your daily Bible reading? It’s hard to keep Christ’s Word when you barely come to Church. You cannot grow in Christ if you refuse to study God’s Word. We’re excellent at coming up with excuses, but reading, learning, and hearing Christ’s Word is what Christians do at the end of the day.

Knowing Christ’s Word also means we have to believe, teach, and confess it. Just a little before our passage Jesus says,  “Believe in God; believe also in me.” Why? Because Jesus “is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father by by him” (John 14:1-4). Are you willing to accept that? Do you believe all he reveals?  You cannot be faithful to Jesus or His Word, His teachings, without holding fast to everything He said and what it means.  When you don’t care what the truth is, you are not keeping His Word.  When it is more important to “get along” than confess the faith, you are not keeping His Word. It doesn’t matter what that Word from Jesus is – believe it. When God has something to say about how this world is ordered, believe that it is true. When Jesus promises you the forgiveness of your sins, believe it. When Jesus says that because of His death on the Cross, you now have a gracious God, trust it. Bank your life now and even your eternity upon the promises of Jesus. Keep Jesus’ Word. Believe what He promises to you.

It is not enough to know and believe his Word. Christ says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandment” (John 14:15). Keeping the commandments of Christ is evidence and proof of faith. Love of Christ grows from faith (see John 15:1-11). Faith and love will always result in obedience. There must be evidence and expression of faith by observing the commandments of Christ in our lives. Do you obey Christ? That means when Jesus tells you to do something, you actually do it. If not, then you don’t love him. If you treat the commands of Jesus as if they were of no importance, then your heart is not with him. You will obey Jesus in thought, word, and deed if you love him.

Very few people in our society will say outright that they hate Christ. Those who go by the name Christian will always say that they love Him. Yet, many Christians willfully disobey or outright deny things that Jesus taught because what Jesus says offends them. We can be worried that talking about certain things Jesus taught might offend someone. Pastors encounter this. People listening to sermons sometimes cringe when a pastor preaches on Biblical ethics and how the Bible calls us to live. Do the commands of Jesus offend you? Are there parts of what Jesus says you don’t want to hear? “Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.” Sometimes, to keep Jesus’ Word, you will have to listen to things that you don’t want to hear. Sometimes it means taking a stand against what the world tells you to do or think. This world hates God’s Word, and Jesus calls you to keep it

Love for Jesus comes by the Spirit

Yet this is not all that Jesus says to his disciples. Jesus also encourages them not to be afraid and not to be troubled. Why? They’re not to be afraid or troubled because Jesus promises them the Holy Spirit. “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

This promise is not directly for you and me. No, it’s first and foremost for the Apostles themselves, and it applies to us through them. The Father sends the Holy Spirit in Christ’s name. What the Apostles could not do on their own – remember the words of Jesus – that’s what the Holy Spirit enabled them to do. “He will glorify me,” Jesus promised, “for he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:14). He took the words of Jesus, and He brought them to their minds. His work is to teach the Apostles and remind them of all that Christ said to them. The Holy Spirit did not introduce new things they’d never heard before. “When the Helper comes… he will bear witness about me. And you also will beaer witness” (John 15:26-27). Everything the Spirit teaches is based upon what the Apostles heard from Christ.

The Spirit came on them as promised. The Spirit was their Helper. By His work in their lives, they were divinely helped to remember the very words that Jesus Christ Himself had spoken and taught. They wrote those words down – again by the same Spirit. They are His words as well as theirs. The result of that work is your New Testament.

We think of the extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost Day. We also think of the Holy Spirit’s continuous work in the Church. The Spirit is our great teacher too. “To bring to our remembrance all He said.” Through the Law, the Spirit has reminded you that you cannot earn your salvation by obeying God or by how much you love Jesus. There is always some sin we could be charged with.  Yet, thank God that He has sent the Holy Spirit to remind us of all that Jesus has said. So, Jesus’ Word to you is, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” Peace with God is what Jesus offers. He gives that peace by His Spirit, through His Word. Jesus can provide peace since, by his death, Jesus won peace with God for you. He took your sins to the Cross, and He died for you. His bloody death turns away God’s wrath from you. Because of Jesus’ death, you have a gracious and merciful God. The Spirit whispers in your hearts through the Word: “And He did it all for you! Because He loves you! Believe it, child! It’s true!”

Wb e cannot love God until we have accepted his mercy by faith. “We love because he first loved us.” We begin to obey God only after he gives us His Holy Spirit to dwell in us. Jesus Christ wants you to receive this Spirit so he can help you to believe in Him and love Him and serve Him. This Spirit is the one who wants to free you from the chains of sin and the power of death.

What does it mean to love Jesus? If we love Jesus, we will keep his Word. What does it mean to keep Jesus’ Word? It means we must know it, believe it, and do it. The Father sends the Spirit in the Son’s name, and the Spirit works through that Word. God the Holy Spirit calls and gathers a church and sustains the very life of that Church for as long as it is in this world.

May, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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