“You’re Gonna Get It!” May 17, 2020
“You’re Gonna Get It!”
“Oh, you’re gonna get it! You’re in so much trouble right now!” How many of us can remember hearing words like these from adults when we were kids? It’s part of growing up; if you mess up, there will be consequences. We even used these treats of pain and suffering ourselves as kids. “You’re gonna get it,” seemed to be the all time favorite on the playground or in the backyard. It was even fun to say. The words seemed to fly off our tongues like little bullets: you’re – gonna – get it. Ah yes, there’s nothing like the threat of impending doom to get someone’s undivided attention.
Now, I bring this up lest there be any misunderstanding of the words of Christ to us today. The Gospel text we are reading for this, the 6th Sunday of Easter, is a continuation of the “Farewell Discourse” from the Gospel of John. In the 14th chapter, John records the final words to his disciples soon before his arrest, conviction, and crucifixion. They are words of encouragement; they are words of confidence. Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. I am the way, the truth, and the light. Jesus is preparing them, like I said last week, to continue his ministry after he is no longer with them physically. They are words of assurance. They are words of strength.
Today, we pick up where we left off, starting at (vs 15) which reads, If you love me, you will keep my commands. He repeats it again (vs 21) Whoever has my commandments and keeps them loves me. So how does that work? Is this one of those “lost in translations” things, or are we to understand that according to Jesus, love and obedience are inseparable? That we can’t honestly claim to love Jesus if we don’t obey him? Are we to believe that? Can we believe that? I just don’t get it. So, before we get overwhelmed by the whole idea, it would be a good idea to have a look at the commandments that Jesus is talking about here. What exactly has Jesus commanded us to do? I believe it is in chapter 13 that John gives us the answer: (vs 34) I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other. This was our reading on Maundy Thursday and is the only recorded commandment in the Gospel of John. Everything else we do as believers in Christ comes down to this: “Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other.”
So how are we doing with that? A quick look at the history of the church over the last 2000 years will give us an idea. Wars, crusades, witch trials, persecutions – this simple command has been looked over and overlooked. It’s so simple, but we just don’t get it.
It was the New Testament Scholar D. A. Carson who named it when he said, “This new command is simple enough for a toddler to memorize and appreciate, and yet it is profound enough that the most mature believers are repeatedly embarrassed at how poorly they comprehend it and put it into practice.”
“Love each other,” Jesus tells us. It’s not a suggestion. It’s not simply an idea that Jesus thought to run by us to see if we liked it or not. “I give you a new commandment,” he tells us. “Love one another.” And here’s the thing: close to 23,000 cases of the Covid 19 virus were reported in the United States alone last Friday. That is in one day. I won’t belabor the anxiety and hardships that have come with this disease – we know them well. And I won’t moan and groan about those that seek to make money from this misery; I won’t marvel at a society that can appear indifferent to death and suffering on such a grand scale. This is nothing new. Man’s inhumanity to man has a long history in this world we live upon. But I do rejoice in the fact that the love of Christ is alive and well. I take heart that believers of all stripes are setting aside their differences and finding that, lo and behold, they love each other. That’s what is important now more than ever. So look around; pay attention. If you want to see the power of the Spirit at work, now is the time. In the food banks, in the prayer chains, and through the generous giving from churches large and small- this is how the love of Christ is found. When the commandment to love others like Jesus loves has become an invitation to us – an invitation that we gladly accept – this is how the love of Christ is shared.
I’ll close with some thoughts by the writer Debie Thomas: “Love me by keeping my commandment, Jesus says. These are finally not two separate actions. They are one and the same. We love because we are loved. We obey Christ because we are in Christ. The love we are commanded to share is the love we are endlessly given.”
So yes, we’re gonna get it. We’re gonna get all the help we need to get us through these tough times. Through the power of the Spirit and by the love of Christ Jesus that lives in us we’re gonna get it – and for that we give thanks to our God
Amen & Shalom