Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sermon -- 5th Sunday of Easter (May 14, 2017)

JOHN 14:1-12


M: Alleluia!  Christ is risen!
Cong: He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

In the name + of Jesus.

     Although today is Mothers' Day, the Gospel lesson focuses on God the Father.  There is a slight connection to be made.  Fathers and mothers are a dim reflection of the way God the Father loves and cares for us.  God gave you your life through your father and mother.  When you were born, you were God's gift to them.  Likewise, your parents were God's gifts to you.  Fathers and mothers are the means by which God provides and protects, cares for and corrects children.  To honor your father and mother is to honor God the Father who has given them to you.  And to love and obey your father and mother is to be thankful for them.
     Still, no father or mother is perfect.  Parents may be proud of their children, but they also may shed tears over times they wish they had done things better.  Parents sin against their children, losing patience or becoming embittered as the children go off to play while parents fill out tax forms or fold laundry.  Children sin against their parents by not rolling their eyes when they are told to do chores or by thinking the mark of becoming an independent adult is to be sarcastic to one's parents.  God intends family relationships to be a joy.  Sin turns them into a battle of wills; and there are often casualties.  But what sin rips apart, God is able to restore.  Jesus first forgives mothers and fathers, sons and daughters for their sins.  Then he teaches each to forgive one another and so that families are reconciled, so that rifts can be restored, and so that wounds can be healed.
     The vocation of father and mother is but a dim reflection of the way our Father in heaven serves us.  Jesus shows us the Father.  Unlike the love of earthly parents, the Father's love for you is perfect.  His love is constant and immeasurable.  And he does not play favorites.  Day after day, our Father in heaven provides daily bread to all mankind whether they love him or despise him, whether they honor him or ignore him.
     Even though the Father loves what he has created, people are often afraid of God.  God the Father has given us life, and he has given us commandments for how he wants us to live our life.  But we do not obey his commandments.  We are often annoyed by them.  And we dismiss God's threats, almost daring God to call us to account.  We have acted the same way toward our own parents.  They set the rules of the house, but in our younger years, we thought they were stupid.  So, we defied the rules, almost daring our parents to punish us.  But when we defied those rules, we did not want to see our parents.  We knew how angry they were going to be, and we knew we deserved the punishment we had coming.  Just as our parents are a dim reflection of God's care for us, so also their justified anger is a dim reflection of God's wrath.  We are right to be afraid of God when we rebel against his word.  No matter how much we pretend not to care about God's commandments or his threats, we have our quiet moments when we are terrified of God.  That's because we know we deserve punishment for our disobedience.
     Jesus shows us the Father so that we do not remain afraid of him.  Jesus said..., “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. … The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.  Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” (John 14:9-11)  Jesus shows us the Father.  Jesus does not do or say anything that differs from the thoughts and desires of God the Father.  The Father loves what he has created.  But that means so much more than providing clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, spouse and children, etc....  The Father's love is demonstrated by this: God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)  
     God the Father has been pleased to redeem sinners so that they would not be forever cut off from him.  While the Father's wrath does indeed stand against those who have sinned against him, the Father sent his Son to stand in the place of sinners.  Jesus suffered  God's wrath, take our punishment, and died a cursed death for us so that we could be forgiven of our sins and received back into God's family.  This is the way that God loved the world.  This is the way that the Father loves you.  If you have seen Jesus at work, if you have heard Jesus' words of mercy, and if you have known and believed in Jesus' work of salvation, then you have seen the Father.  Jesus shows us the Father.  He loves and redeems what he has created.
     Our Lord Jesus Christ on the night he was betrayed spoke to his disciples about returning to his Father in heaven.  Jesus assured them that he was not abandoning them.  Rather, he was going to prepare a place for them in his Father's house so that they could dwell together forever.  Then Jesus assured them, “You know the way to where I am going.”  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going.  How can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:4-6)  Jesus is the way to the Father, and there is no other.
     Jesus shows us the Father.  He shows us that the Father is most merciful and loving.  He is the one who rejoices when the prodigal son comes home.  He does not hold a grudge against us, but gives us an honored position as a child in his family.  He does not withhold blessings from us, but restores us to full heirs of his kingdom.  He accepts Jesus' innocent sufferings and death as a guilt offering.  That sacrifice satisfies God's anger and is the full payment for all our sins.  There is no more payment that needs to be made.  Nothing else delivers from death and hell, and nothing more delivers you, either.
     Jesus shows us the Father.  Jesus shows us that we are his children.  As his children, you will strive to honor your Father with the godly lives he desires,  But you do not need to live in constant suspense, wondering if your life is good enough to make God happy with you.  You are his beloved and redeemed child.  He wants you to dwell with him for all eternity.  Of course he is pleased with you!  Jesus, who cleanses you of all sin and presents you holy and blameless to his Father, shows you that your Father loves you.
     Therefore, Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)  The Father who created you wants you to dwell with him forever.   The Father sent his Son to deliver you from sin and death, and the Son will come again to deliver you to the glories of heaven.  The Father wants you to dwell in his house so that he will always give you his gifts, comfort you with his mercy, bestow his peace, and restore all things to you forever.
     Jesus shows us the Father.  That love is dimly reflected in the love that mothers and fathers show their children.  And while it is true that no parent is perfect, it is also true that God blesses children through the care and concern of their parents.  By father and mother, we are shown love, disciplined, fed, encouraged, and comforted.  You receive this and more from your Father in heaven.  From the Father, you receive these things perfectly and permanently.  Jesus shows us how great the Father's love for us is.  He has made us his children, and he has marked us for heaven.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

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