Today we continue to celebrate Easter. Remember, as Christians, we worship on Sunday because for us each and every Sunday is a miniature Easter celebration. Each and every Sunday we are reminded of God’s great love for us. Each and every Sunday we have the opportunity to come to divine service in order to be given to, in order to be lavished with all the good gifts and blessings our Lord has to give to us. Why would we want to be anyplace else?
Today we also celebrate the social holiday of Mother’s Day. Indeed, the highest calling of God to a woman is motherhood because as was His promise, the Savior of the world was born through a mother, the Virgin Mary. So, to all our Mother’s we are glad you are here, that you brought your family and we say to you, “Happy Mother’s Day.”
Our text for today is a fitting Mother’s Day text as our text talks about relationships. Indeed, for each one of us our first relationship was with our mother as she was probably the one who feed us, changed our diaper and comforted us.
Relationships are a big thing. Usually when we hear the word “relationship,” a couple of different images come to mind, at least to my mind. One image might be that of relatives, or as we say here in Texas, “kin folks.” Another image might be of young people in love and talking about their relationship with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Too often we do not give much thought to “relationships” unless there is a strain in such relationship. To twist a phrase, “relationships happen.”
A friend and I were discussing relationships when he made, what I thought was, a most profound observation. He said, “What is the difference between a man and a woman who are friends and a man and a woman who are dating? At five o’clock they are “just friends,” but at six o’clock they decide they are ‘going together.’ What is the difference?” And this is the profound part, “We all have relationships with each other, it is just that our relationships are all at different levels, and our relationships with each other will grow and deepen as far and as deep as we will let them. They will grow and deepen only as far as each person in the relationship will allow. In other words, if one person in the relationship only wants to have an acquaintance relationship, then that is as deep as that relationship will go.”
Our text for this morning addresses this issue of relationships. There are several relationships going on in our text. I want to begin with Jesus’ relationship with His Father, God the Father. Their relationship is that they are one God, one Lord. Here we must admit that we may not completely understand this relationship, but we do know that the Father is God and that Jesus is God, that the Father is not Jesus and Jesus is not the Father, and that there is only one God. These are the facts, even if we do not completely understand them. However, there is an intimate relationship between Jesus and the Father.
About Jesus, we also know that along with being God, He is truly human. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, making Him truly God. He was born of the human woman, the virgin Mary, making Him truly human. Jesus knows what it means to be God and He knows what it means to be human. As a human He understands everything there is to understand about us and what is happening in our lives.
Jesus and the Father have perfect love for each other. Their love is so perfect that Jesus obeys the Father in all things, even, and especially, to the point of death. Yes, God the Father sent His only Son, Jesus, to come to this earth as a human in order to put all our sins on Him, so that He might suffer the eternal death penalty, the price for our sins, hell for us in our place, so that we might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. So that we might be brought back into a right relationship with Himself, a relationship that was broken by disobedience and sin in the Garden of Eden.
Jesus has a perfect relationship with His Father in heaven. He also has a relationship with us. His relationship with us is one which starts with the fact that He loves us. He initiates the love. He chose us. At our conception He created us. At our Baptism He put His name on us. He put faith in our hearts. He gave us forgiveness of sins. He wrote His name on us and put our names in the book of life.
Jesus loves us. He loves us to the point of death. His love for us is so great and so deep that He gave up the glory that was His, as God, in heaven in order to take on human flesh and blood and to do for us what we could not do, perfectly obey all God’s laws and commands. He came to live the perfect life demanded of us, for us, in our place. After living for us, He then, took all our sins upon Himself and suffered and died for us. He suffered the eternal death penalty, hell, the consequences of our sin, for us in our place. He died so that we might live.
Jesus loves us. His love brings perfect joy. He gives us faith and forgiveness. With faith and forgiveness we have joy, peace and life. Jesus’ love for us is so great that we cannot help but share that love with others.
Jesus and God the Father have a relationship. We have a relationship with Jesus. And we have a relationship with each other. Immediately following the fall into sin in the Garden of Eden, our relationship with God the Father was broken and so was our relationships with one another. Through Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross, we were brought back into a right relationship with God the Father. This reconciliation happened, not because of anything on our part, but purely by God’s grace we were brought back into a right relationship with God the Father. Yes, we are still sinners and we continue to put a strain on this relationship, but it is God who continues to come to us through His means of grace, His Word and sacraments in order to initiate a continued deepening of our relationship with Himself. And as I said earlier, this relationship, like all relationships, will grow and deepen only so far as we will allow it to grow and deepen. If we keep God at an arms length, if we visit Him only for an hour or two on Sundays, that will be as deep as our relationship goes. God would certainly rather have an intimate relationship with us. He would have us come to Him on a daily basis. He would have us allow Him to speak to us, as He does through His Word, on a daily basis. Again, He would like to have an intimate relationship with us.
We have been brought back into a right relationship with God the Father and we have been brought back into a right relationship with Jesus Himself, again through His life, suffering and death. Jesus shows His love for us in this, that He gave His life for ours. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for His friends” (John 15:13). Jesus laid down His life for us and He expects nothing in return from us and unfortunately, that is often what He gets from us, nothing. I believe there is a lot of truth in the statement which is usually addressed of young couples who are dating and are absent from one another for a period of time. The statement is also true for our relationship with Jesus whom we do not physically see. The statement is, “out of sight, out of mind.” We do not physically see Jesus and thus, unfortunately, we do not very often think about Him, or about the fact that He always sees us in everything we do, everywhere we go, He knows everything we say and everything we are thinking. Yet, He is the one who has brought us back into a right relationship with God the Father and with Himself, through His suffering and death.
We have a relationship with each other, whether that be a relationship of acquaintance, friendship, mother/daughter or mother/son, or a deeper more intimate relationship. Sin broke our relationship with God and with that relationship broken, so are our relationships with one another. Have you ever wondered why children fight with one another, why teenagers fight with their parents, why husbands and wives have difficulties with each other? It is because of our broken relationship with God and with each other. Jesus’ death and resurrection mended our relationship with Himself and with that relationship mended, we were also brought back into a right relationship with each other. Our relationships are not yet perfect as we can see in the fact that we still have fights among ourselves, and we will never have a perfect relationship until we reach heaven. Yet our relationships are such that with Jesus’ help, we imperfectly reflect His love for us to each other.
This morning Jesus reminds us. He reminds us that He created us and I would add, as I have said before, that He created us in order to love us, which He does. He reminds us that we did not choose Him, rather He chose us. He reminds us that we did not give our lives for Him, rather He gave His life for ours. He is the prime motivator. He is the one who initiates. He also reminds us that we do nothing of our own initiative. We do not love from our own desire, rather He moves us to reflect His love to each other. The question we might ask ourselves this morning is, “what is our relationship with Jesus?” Is Jesus just an acquaintance? Is He a family friend? Is He an intimate friend?
There is an old story about a pig and chicken. They we discussing the financial situation of the farmer and how things did not look to good at this time. They were discussing how each of them could contribute and help out. Both wanted to believe that they were the most committed to the farmer. And both wanted to help. The chicken suggested that they provide the farmer with breakfast. She would provide the eggs and the pig could provide the bacon. At which the pig pointed out the difference in their level of commitment. The chickens commitment was merely giving of some of the “fruit of her labor,” if you will pardon the pun, but the pigs gift demanded total commitment, the giving of his life. What is our relationship with Jesus? Do we merely give Him some of the fruit of our labors, or are we totally committed, giving Him our life?
As we continue to celebrate the Easter Resurrection, our forgiveness and salvation, and as we once again celebrate our first earthly relationship that of our mother’s love, may we be moved to rejoice in God’s great love for us. I cannot say it any better than Jesus says it in the Gospel lesson for this morning and so I would like to leave you with Jesus’ words from the Gospel lesson. “9As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” To God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.