Christ’s commands us to love one another, even to the point of dying for one another.
This Week’s Passage: John 15:9-17
I. Establish the text
C. Other texts for Year B for 6thSunday in Easter
D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?
9 Like a parental tradition: Dad did it for me. I did it for you. You do it also.
10 Like parental advice that a child stay within the rules to keep the child from suffering the ill effects of when the rules are violated.
11 Not for the sake of the parent are the rules laid down, but for the sake of the child’s joy.
12 This is the summary of the second table of the law. It fully summarizes all of human law.
13 Supreme sacrifice v. the reserved sacrifice of Navy colleagues who regretted the risk they were taking for their country, do it only for their parent’s sake.
14 Danger is to assume if-then-else theology. The else is not mentioned.
15 Unlike a servant who only has orders, friends know the big picture. C.f. story of crews digging hole after hole in a street only to fill them up again. By mid afternoon they were beginning to become disgruntled. But when they found out that the city had lost the maps of the sewer system, they were able to continue their task with renewed energy.
16 The Church is not a voluntary organization! The church is a group of people called by God to do his work in this time and in this place, especially to make disciples of all people and to love one another.
E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?
- This is the central portion of a longer teaching. It follows a section that relates the listeners as branches of Christ. A section that prophesies how followers of Christ will be hated for their faith follows this section. In this context, the larger teaching is a command to love one-another in the face of death, to martyrdom.
II. Literary Study.
C. Review syntax/meanings of critical words, phrases, idioms
10 /ean … thrhwshte/ (Aorist Active 2nd person Plural Subjunctive) ‘if you all would watch over’ or ‘if you would guard.’ Usually translated as ‘if you keep.’ Often understood as ‘if you obey.’ If-then or rule-based theology is easy. Meet the requirements and you get in otherwise you don’t. But guarding over the commandments may be harder. Guarding would necessitate that they continue to be relevant for future generations.
III. Question the text.
C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?
- Cenger of Gravity: This is a commandment to emulate Christ, loving one another, even to the point of dying for one another.
F. How will this text be heard by individuals in the congregation, including the preacher?
- The commandment to love one another will be readily heard absent of the expected depth and cost of that love. Becoming a church member costs nothing. Becoming a Christian costs everything! The human ear will readily isolate the cost of abiding in love to Christ, who paid it all. Yet, true discipleship demands that followers of Christ love even to the point of being labeled radicals. Giving to the church is a radical expression of the foolishness of being a Christian.