Sunday, June 5, 2011

7th Sunday of Easter - June 5, 2011

First, context.  For the past two weeks we have been in John’s gospel, listening to Jesus speak to his disciples during what we call, the Last Supper.  So this is at the very end of his ministry.  Jesus will be arrested in a few hours and killed the next day.  That is the broad context.

The more particular context is this, Jesus is preaching a sermon to his disciples.  This whole long section of John’s gospel is pretty much a sermon.  In this sermon are all kinds of things like illustrations, instructions, and encouragement.  The section we have today, our gospel lesson, is in the form of a prayer, but it is part of the whole sermon. 

Now, it might not seem like it sometimes, but all sermons are supposed to have a point.  And the Lutheran understanding is that this point of the sermon, the reason that it is being preached, is to give a promise.  What Jesus is trying to communicate in his big, long sermon is this, “Trust me; it’s going to be okay.  My father sent me to do the work of bringing salvation to the people he has chosen and I have done it.  You are among those people whom he has chosen.” 

The point of the particular section of his sermon that we have read this morning is pretty much the same thing, but instead of telling it straight to them, he is praying to God in front of them.  And these are some of the things that he says:

“You have given [me] authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given [me.]”

“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me....... They were yours, and you gave them to me.”

And then also this, “All mine are yours, and yours are mine.”

These three bits all have the same core understanding.  Jesus is saying that God has chosen the disciples and given the disciples to him.  Do you notice how passive the disciples are in this?  God the Father and Jesus his Son are working on this salvation plan.  God the father chooses them, and gives them to the Son.  Jesus works on them, and gives them eternal life.  What are the disciples doing?  Not much!

Now it does say that Jesus works on the disciples a bit.  What does he do to them?  Mainly he preaches to them!  He puts words into their ears.  Here is what he says:

“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me......”

“The words that you gave to me I have given to them......”

Jesus has been giving them words.  He has been preaching to them.  Why?  What good is that going to do?  Now in our culture we don’t necessarily have a lot of respect for words.  Think about expressions like these: “Talk is cheap” and “Actions speak louder than words.”  That may be so with people, but it isn’t with God.  God’s word is powerful and does what it says.  Take creation for example.  The Bible doesn’t say, “God rolled up his sleeves and got to work.”  No, the creation account in Genesis says that God created things with his words.  “And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.”  
So now, when Jesus has been preaching to his disciples he has been doing the same thing.  Except that instead of creating the physical world, Jesus is creating something a bit different.  Here’s how it works.  Jesus proclaims a promise to us.  Hearing that promise produces faith.  Simple.  So what has Jesus been doing with his disciples?  He has been busy creating faith in them by using words.

And this is exactly what Jesus reports.  Here is what he says:

“Now they know that everything you have given me is from you.”

And also this, “For the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.”

God’s word is powerful.  God’s word does what it says.  And so when Jesus says, “All mine are yours, and yours are mine” then that is so.  He has said it and so it is true.  And by saying it to his disciples, he is creating faith in them so that can believe that it is true.

Now I’d like to connect this with us.  What does this have to do with us?  Nothing has changed.  God still uses his Word.  I spoke about this in the newsletter this month when I explained the importance of the Third Commandment and the importance of coming to church.  Neither of these things are important because they are rules.  They are important because getting our ears to church means that we hear something that we need to hear.

And so here it is.  God has chosen you.  How do you know this?  You know this because I am telling you.  All of you baptized have been chosen by God for salvation.  That is God’s promise to you this morning. 

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