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“If Anyone Loves Me, He Will Obey My Teaching”
John 14:23-26


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Sixth Sunday of Easter—May 9 2010

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

From the early days theater comes the expression a “waxen nose.”  It was a prop that could be bent however was wanted.  It came to symbolize bending principles, morals, values, twisted to the fit the situation like a “waxen nose.”

That is always the temptation.  Because we are all fallen sinners, we each try, in different ways in our lives, to twist God’s will and his word to fit our desires and ideas, instead of bending our will to conform to God’s will.

Recently, a neighboring state twisted the meaning of marriage like a “waxen nose.”  Even some churches have followed this recent trend. This has all been done in the name of “love.”  Love is used as a justification for just about anything.  If they “love” each other, who are we to criticize?

But, in today’s Gospel Reading, Jesus says that for his followers “love” is not a “waxen nose.”  We are not free to bend “love” to mean whatever we want: “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.”

On this Mother’s Day, it is a good time to remind ourselves that true love always includes responsibilities.  For a mother, her love for her children shows itself in so many ways.  First of all, carrying them in the womb and giving them birth.  Then everything that goes into raising her children.  One article listed just some of the jobs a mother does, including chef, social worker, psychologist, tutor, nurse, housekeeper, and bus driver.  The article concludes, “Start adding up salaries for each of those jobs, and you’ll [soon] hit [$1 million] . . . Just be glad Mom isn’t asking for a salary from you.”

And, of course, for a Christian mother there is another important responsibility toward her children.  As Paul says in Ephesians, “Bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

These responsibilities between parent and child flow both ways.  For, a child’s love toward his or her parents also includes responsibilities.  As the Fourth Commandment and its Explanation say, “Honor your father and your mother.  What does this mean?  We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.”

Just as a mother’s love for her children, and a child’s love for his or her parents, includes responsibilities, Jesus adds an important obligation for all who claim to love him: “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.”

Of course, the ultimate example of love is our Lord himself: “Greater love has no man than this,” Jesus said, “that he lay down his life for his friends.”  Out of love for you, Jesus gave his life as a payment for your sins.  As Paul says in Ephesians, “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as an offering and sacrifice to God,” and John says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” 

Because of Jesus’ love and his sacrifice for you, your sins are all forgiven.  That is the reason why we love Jesus, in response to his great love for us.  “We love him,” John says, “because he first loved us.”

“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.”  For the followers of Christ, “love” is not a “waxen nose.”  We are not free to bend “love” to mean whatever we want.  Instead of twisting God’s will and God’s word to fit our desires and ideas, we must bend our will to conform to his will.  “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.” 

Jesus goes on to tell the disciples why his teaching is to be obeyed, and where his teaching is to be found.

“These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”  That is WHY his teaching is to be obeyed.  The world rejects claims of absolute truth: “Well, that’s just your opinion. Who are you to say what is right and what is wrong?”  But, the word of Jesus is absolute truth, because it is not the word of a mere man. For, he is not a mere man, he God’s only-begotten Son, who for us and our salvation came down to earth and was made man.

“These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”  God is the real source of all that Jesus of Nazareth taught us.  That is why his teaching is to be obeyed.

“The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  This is a prophecy of the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures.  Jesus assures us that by divine enlightenment of the Holy Spirit the disciples recorded for us not just their personal recollections about Jesus and his teachings, not just their own ideas about what Christian doctrine should be, but Christ’s very words, and his very divine doctrine. 

“The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  We have the fulfillment of this prophecy in the New Testament, and the Old Testament is also divinely inspired.  As Peter says, “I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. . . For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

We can rely without any doubt on the words and the teachings written by the prophets and apostles under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  This is called the “verbal inspiration” of the Scriptures, that God inspired not just the general ideas but the very words of the Bible.  As Paul says in 2nd Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”  That is where his teaching is to be found.

Jesus warns his followers that the sinful world will not follow his word, his teachings: “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.”  So, it is not unexpected that the world would reject God’s truth in such areas as marriage and the proper boundaries of human sexuality.  “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.”

But, what about those who claim to be Christ’s followers, but in this or other areas do not follow his will, his teachings, his doctrine, as given to us in his word?  In today’s Reading from the Book of Acts, Paul warns the pastors at Ephesus, “Savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.  Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth . . .  So be on your guard!” 

To be a true follower of Christ means that you follow his will, his teachings, his doctrine, as given to us in his word: “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. . .  If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.  All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

Amen. 

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