Lectionary Year B
May 25, 2003

John 15:9-17
Contemporary Address

Step VI - Contemporary Address

A. Goals

(JFC) Proclaiming the Gospel from this lection might begin to get at what God appreciates love to be, how Jesus exemplifies it and how we might appropriate it, as well.

B. Describing the Audience

(JFC) Any congregation enraptured with contemporary commercial pretenses of selling their versions of "love" might benefit from an exposition of this text.

C. Address

(JFC) a sermon, for this working draft let's call, "Getting Some Handles on Love"

Someone wrote, "I used to have a handle on life but it broke." Sometimes people in today act like their handle on love broke. John thinks Jesus had a handle of love. In fact, several times in the fourth Gospel, John writes of the topic, love, John 3:16, of course and 14:15, as well as the passages of two weeks ago, I John 3:16-24 and John 10:11-18.

I. God Loves
A. Jesus' first handle on love comes in His knowing/believing that, "God loves me." Today' Gospel Lesson begins with Jesus telling His first followers, "As God loves me ..."

B. And, God loves all people. I John 4:19 states it quite clearly: "He loved us first." God's love is proactive. God started love and for everyone, see Mark 10:45.

A. Jesus' next handle on love defines it as a laying down of life. How convincing a picture that image draws, especially on Good Friday. Jesus' passion indelibly reminds us how His giving of His very life exemplifies love, illustrates it, personifies it.

B. Jesus calls His followers "friend". Friends were of utmost importance in the first century as they certainly are today. Someone recently noted that we "can do almost anything together, yet can hardly do anything alone." More on Biblical "friend" in Anchor Bible, p 664.

A. When we respond to God's love revealed in Jesus Christ we love, too. This passage has the word "love" nine times, five times as a verb and four times as a noun. When we love, as in a verb, "to love", we both identify ourselves as God's people, Christ's followers and we also find joy, some translations emphasize it, "complete joy", contemporarily, we would say it, "joy, totally." Joy flows from obedience and love . . . and love and obedience arise out of each other, AB, p.681.

B. Ephesians 5:2 has another and broader term to describe believers' response to God's love revealed in Jesus Christ. There we read, "Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us." We get handles on love when we risk loving as generously as God did, as Jesus did, as the evangelist reported we are commanded to, "to love one another."

God generated love. Christ filtered it by showing us how to receive it, rely on it and share it with all others. We get handles on love by handing it on to others who can receive it, rely on it and share it with yet others, on and on.

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