Saturday, May 12, 2012

Easter 6

We are accustomed to thinking of Jesus as our friend, and we express this thought with the hymn, “What a friend we have in Jesus, All of sins and grief’s to bear,” But friendship, as we know, is as two-way street. Not only is Jesus your friend, but you are the friends of Jesus also. Jesus would say to us this day, You are My friends!

What does it mean to be friends of Jesus?

  1. You have the privilege of friendship.

A.      Christ has chosen you in grace. (v.16) You did not choose me, but I chose you. This had to be done all by grace for by nature we are blind, dead, and enemies of God.  We cannot free ourselves from our sinful condition.

1.   We were not able to choose Him. (All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath Ephesians 2:3; The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14)

2.   He chose us purely out of grace. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it’s a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

B.      Christ has opened Himself to us. (v.15) I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father, I have made known to you.

1.   He shares with us the truths regarding His redemptive work, our regeneration in Baptism and the blessings of His body and blood in Holy Communion. Then Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you and to your children. Acts 2:38,39

2.   He has divulged to us the precious truths of His Word. You are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have out on Christ. (Galatians 3:26,27)

C.      Christ has promised to give us what we ask in His name. (v.16) You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name, the Father will give you. We need to continue to be a house of prayer.

1         Don’t we need patience, love, and perseverance?

2         Aren’t there fellow Christians whose needs we can bring to Christ?

3         Don’t our home and church have needs?

4         This is why we pray and what our Savior has promised to hear and to answer.

Transition: We have the privilege of friendship with Jesus. Along with privileges come responsibilities.

  1. We have the responsibilities of friendship.

A.      We are to do what He has commanded (v.14) You are my friends if you do what I command.

1.   We bind ourselves to the sound doctrine of His Word. We are hearers of God’s Word but also doers of His Word as well. The faith is taught but it is also taught.

2.   We practice what accords with sound doctrine no matter how the world reviles us. (If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.  

Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’[a] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. John 15:18-20)

B.      We are to love one another. (v.17) This is my command: Love each other.

1.   We are commanded to love even as Christ loved us. There is no other option. Jesus has given us His command – Love each other!

2.   We do this through fervent and persistent prayer. We do this by caring for each other, upholding one another. We do this by taking our needs and each other’s burdens joys and sorrows to the throne room of grace. Being thankful as the Savior answers each petition.[1] Overlooking each other’s weaknesses, forgiving them as God in Christ has forgiven us.

C.      We are to bear abundant fruit (v.16) You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

1.   We show genuine concern for our brothers and sisters no matter what the circumstances or how we feel. It’s so easy to show genuine Christian compassion when it’s convenient and when it’s easy, say on Mother’s Day. It’s quite another thing to show genuine care when it can’t or won’t be returned so easily.
2.   As the farmer is promised an abundant harvest at planting time - there will be abiding fruit - when we support the faithful preaching of the Word and the right administration of the sacraments. As the Lord has connected us to these means of grace, we have the promise that by these means, as humble as they may be, will produce great and mighty works. We might not always see it. In fact you never really do. Seeds planted a few weeks ago have started to sprout. Those seedlings will be knee high in four to six weeks. Then they will tassel overnight. As the corn grows, so does the faith, gradually, over time, and usually, without much fanfare. And yet, there is consistent growth.

3.   The church exists locally wherever Christ's people gather around His Word, and Sacraments. They are sacred and holy sheep listening to the voice of the Shepherd. Thus, we gather to worship, to be fed, to receive holy absolution, to be strengthened, to intercede for one another, to bear each other’s burdens only to enter back into the world to be salt and light. We use the gifts, talents, and abilities the Lord has given us in our various vocations to be witnesses of the Savior. It is a serious task, as the Savior speaks quite specifically about those who lose their saltiness and whose light goes out.
4.   The Scriptures speak of community. Zion Friedheim congregation is a parish of some 600 souls who come from different backgrounds, ages, economic advantages and disadvantages, vocations, political affiliations, allegiances, etc. We are united only in Christ. Last names cease when we enter the church door. We come to a worship service and then in service we witness for Him. We enter back into the world to be witnesses of the Savior.

Our desire is for others to embrace and cherish our Friedheim family as they become connected to Jesus Christ. Do we always get it right? Not always. Are we perfect? Hardly! Do we stumble, fumble, flop and fall? Certainly! Yet, in spite of our many flaws, the Lord uses us in various ways, often to our amazement! We enter into a sacred space only to enter back into the world.

You are My friends!” Jesus said. Are you enjoying your great privileges? Are you carrying out your holy responsibilities? Good for you! The Lord is pleased with your faithfulness! Blessed are you, friend of Jesus!

[1] Mission-Philosophy-Vision Statement For our Friedheim Family

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