Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
SO MUCH LOVE IN BUT A FEW SHORT HOURS
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FIRST REFORMED CHURCH, ATHENS, NEW YORK
FOR THE COMMUNITY MAUNDY THURSDAY SERVICE
12 APRIL 1990
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
John 13:1, 13-15, 26-27, 34-35
14:6, 15-18, 27
16:1, 8-11, 33
Come with me back in time on this night almost 2,000 years ago.
And in order to make this journey easier, follow along in your Bibles beginning at John 13:1.
All of the twelve disciples are gathered with Jesus in the upper room.
And in 13:1 John sets the stage for us by expressing Jesus' thoughts:
1. Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
Everything in Jesus' incarnate life was coming to an end.
His work here on earth, among the people, was coming to an end and He knew it.
And even more, He knew he was going to suffer death in the most horrible way.
He was going to die for people who didn't care and who were caught up in apostasy, caught up in all kinds of false teaching and pervasive cruelty that extended to every living being whether human or animal.
Yet Jesus still loved them, even as far into the future as we are today and even further, for He knew he was going to die for each and every one of us.
No matter what they were like at the time, or what we are like today, He loved us to the fullest extent possible.
He knew that Judas was going to be the one to betray Him, that Peter would deny Him three times that night alone, and that all the others would depart from Him.
Yet He humbled himself and washed the dirtiest part of their bodies – their feet.
For in those days, they didn't have shoes like ours, nor did they have the sanitary facilities we have, and people walked in all kinds of detestable things.
He washed all of their feet in order to let us know the extent of our love that we were to show to each other.
Hear what Jesus said in 13:13-15:
13. "You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.
14. "If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.
15. "For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you."
There is no anger over what is going to take place.
There is only love.
But at the same time, Jesus lets them know that He knows what will take place shortly.
In spite of this, He wants us to love as He loves.
Then in answer to John's question about who will betray Him, He gives us an example of loving your enemy.
Note what we are told in 13:26-27:
26. Jesus therefore answered, "That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him." So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.
27. And after the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Jesus therefore said to him, "What you do, do quickly."
Did you ever eat a piece of fresh horseradish?
It's hot, real hot!
It burns in your mouth and throat, makes your eyes water, and even makes you feel that steam is coming out your ears.
That is the bitter herb of the Passover service. It represents the bitterness of Israel's time in Egypt, and it represents sin, even the kind of depravity that crucified Jesus, and tortures and kills billions of animals every year.
By dipping the horseradish in a mixture of fruit, nuts, cinnamon, and the
juice of the grape, all of
the sting of the radish is removed – that is, if you cover it all.
By doing this, Jesus was saying to Judas and all of us, "I know your sin, but I can cover it and take it away. Sin leads only to death, but I will forgive you and give you life."
Judas rejected that love.
What about us?
For that same kind of love reaches out to us.
But in order to receive love and forgiveness, we must be willing to turn away for our sinful ways
Then in 13:34-35, Jesus lets us know why this love is important for each and every one of us:
34. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
35. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
Do we truly love one another in this way?
Do we truly love God from whom this forgiving love comes?
And, do we extend this love to the whole of God's creation?
If not, we had best check our relationship with the Lord and put it in order by confessing our unlove to Him and asking for His forgiveness and guidance, so that we would truly be His disciples and be in heaven with Him forever.
For as Jesus tells us in 14:6:
6. … "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me."
If we haven't accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and likewise accepted His forgiving love, we shall not see heaven.
For when we do accept His love, we see a huge change in our lives and lifestyle as we are transformed into the loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God, He has called us to be.
Jesus knows what this world is like and the trials we face each and every day; and in His love, He has promised to help us.
Note what we are told in 14:15-18:
15. "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
16. "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;
17. that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.
18. "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."
In His abundant love, Jesus was not as concerned about His pending death as He was about those who believed in Him.
He didn't want any of them to fall into the hands of Satan, as did Judas.
He wants all of us to know that the Holy Spirit will guide and protect all who believe, if we allow Him to do so.
Jesus talks to us about peace in 14:27:
27. "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you, not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."
Fear takes away love, or at least hides it from our view.
But if we stand firm in the love of Jesus, we will not have a troubled heart, and we will be able to see through all the evilness of this world to that which God created it to be.
Thus we will have peace, even if the world is not peaceful around us.
Still not caring about what lay ahead that night, Jesus in all his love cautions us about many things.
About our fruitfulness, He says in 15:5-6:
5. "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.
6. "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."
Jesus wants us to be one with Him.
He wants us to be born again.
He doesn’t want any of us to go to hell.
He wants us to turn away from the ways of the world with all its cruelty, injustices, and corruption, and the people who abide in worldly activities that the Lord calls sin.
We are to love God and love one another, as He tells us in 15:17:
17. "This I command you, that you love one another."
We are not to worry about what others may think of us for standing on the side of God, as we are told in 15:18:
18. "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you."
If we go along with the ways of the world in order to be liked by those of the world, then we will have nothing.
But if we abide in Jesus Christ, we will have everything.
This Jesus tells us in 16:1:
1. "These things I have spoken to you, that you may be kept from stumbling."
We have not been doing a very good job from the pulpits and from our seminaries to help keep people from stumbling, for we seem afraid to tell the truth of why Christ died for us.
He died for the remission of sin, that we might live.
He died that we would turn back to following the will of our heavenly Father, and be the loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children He wants us to be.
That is God's love.
I know that the Holy Spirit has convicted each and every one of us of the truth, and particularly we who stand behind the pulpit, because Jesus tells us so in 16:8-11:
8. "And He [the Holy Spirit], when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment;
9. concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;
10. and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me;
11. and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged."
Then Jesus reminds us that we are to hold firm until His return, as we are told in 16:33:
33. "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."
And because Jesus has overcome the world, so can we.
Then Jesus prays for our strength and protection, and He speaks of true godly love, so that God's love would abide in each and every believer.
Then in Chapter 18, Jesus and His disciples cross over into the garden, His final place of prayer before He is taken prisoner.
Judas knew of this place and led those who would arrest Him there.
Jesus even rebuked Peter for trying to defend Him.
If Jesus didn't willingly give Himself up this night, to be led away and crucified, we would all be dead in our sins.
But because His great love never gave out, we who repent and believe are alive forever more.
Jesus drank the cup of affliction upon the cross for you and me.
There were but a few hours between the dinner and His arrest, and all Jesus was concerned about was us.
Don't you think, Church, it’s time that we begin to live like we appreciate what He did for us?
In Jesus' name, I pray so!