Love is Tough John 15:9-17

Love is Tough

John 15:9-17
Sunday May 10th, 2015
Ponder UMC


I don’t know how you feel but, I hate love. No not the concept of love. I hate the word love.
In my opinion, it is the most abused word in the english language.

One word, for so many things. Many times our use of the word love is just plain wrong. I can ‘love’ some ice cream, I would ‘love’ to have lunch with you, I would love it if you would help me.
Is the love I feel towards you in this room, different than the love I feel for my best friend? Is it different than the love I feel for my children or the love I feel for my wife?

Other languages have many words to describe these different facets of the english word Love.
In fact, I got a little sidetracked in my research, looking for all the ways to express the many facets of love in other languages. But, I can’t speak French, I don’t know Spanish, and in even though I spent three years in Germany in my air force days, I learned very little German, Ein Bier bitte, Wo ist die Toilette?
Being 19 years old, 7000 miles from home in Germany, those were important phrases for me.

Verse 9 & 10

9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.
10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

What I find interesting, is that in greek, there are multiple words we translate as love. There is Eros, where we get words like erotic,
Philadelphia, which is a brotherly love – like Philadelphia is the “City of Brotherly love”.
You’ve probably also heard of Agape love, which is compassion, forgiveness, charity;
It would seem to me, that Jesus, speaking to his disciples, his friends, his confidants, would use the greek word, philadelphia, brotherly love, when he says he loves them. But he doesn’t. Jesus uses a a slightly different word, agapao. Which means to long for, or take pleasure in.

Jesus is not saying, if you don’t don’t do what I say, I will no longer love you. Jesus tells the disciples, that he longs for them to live they way he’s taught them, and that God takes great pleasure in those that obey him.

verse 11

11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

Recall that this is Jesus, giving his disciples a goodbye speech. It may seem odd to say, “when I die, you are going to feel this sense of Joy”. That’s not the normal human reaction to the death of a loved one. Think about it; Jesus could choose not to go to the cross, he could have fled that night out of Jerusalem, to safety. Instead, Jesus chose the cross. And when they finally understand why he’s going to the cross, they will be filled with joy.

verse 12

12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.

If you knew you were going to be dead in less than 24 hours, What would you say to your closest friends and family? Have you ever thought about it? What is that one most important bit of wisdom or knowledge you want them to hold onto?

Like probably most of us, Jesus wants his disciples to know that he loves them. Who wouldn’t want their last words to be, “I love you”. But here he commands them,. Jesus tells his disciples, after I’m gone, its all going to be on you. You’ve got to love each other.

verse 13

13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

A body guard might take a bullet for his client, but the motivation there is money. Policemen and such might die in the line of duty, and soldiers have jumped on grenades to save their buddies.
Jesus says there’s no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends. He’s going to lay down his life for them, and for everyone.

Even though the Apostle Paul wasn’t at the Last Supper, he understands what Jesus meant here when he writes to the church in Rome:

7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-8)

Jesus died for you and for me, for something he didn’t even do. If that’s not love, then I don’t know what love is. How do you respond to Jesus’ love?

Jesus said, I love you so much. I took your punishment, I laid down my life so that your sins will be forgiven.
How do you respond to this? What expression of gratitude conveys the unbelievable generosity of this gift?
Speaking of ineffective words, How can I possibly “thank” Jesus for this immeasurable sacrifice?
To me, there is no word in the english language or any language to express how I feel for such an amazing, and selfless gift. I didn’t ask him to, I certainly don’t deserve it. But he did it because he loves me. What’s does one say?


Verse 14-15

14 You are my friends if you do what I command.15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.

I personally struggle with slavery in the bible, for many reasons, but primarily because I can’t relate. I’ve never been subjected to slavery. But I think a somewhat useful analogy might this story.
When I was in the air force, I had just left basic training, and was sent to my training school. Being one of the newbies at the school, I, and all of the other airmen I had arrived with, were assigned weekend duty that first Saturday morning. Weekend duty was mostly used as punishment, unless you had a bunch of newly arrived, no-stripe airman around to pick on.
That first Saturday morning, we were handed a bucket of black paint, some brushes and rollers, and told to go and paint the parking lot black. Now, as a low-level, know-nothing airman, I had no say in the matter, and no explanation was given. We were just expected to go and do it.
Granted, this is nowhere near slavery, but, If you asked someone to help you fix the squadron commanders parking spot, to cover up the worn out, dingy orange with black paint, you would understand.

Jesus has explained to the disciples the “why”. This is not how servants or slaves are treated. This is how you treat your peers. Jesus promotes his disciples to be his equals. The disciples have graduated.

verse 16

16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.

Jesus chose his disciples. This is not how Rabbi’s of the time acquired disciples. Typically, wanna-be disciples would search out the Rabbi they wanted to be like, and essentially apply and audition for the role of disciple. Jesus on the other hand, pick guys seemingly at random. He chose them to be his disciples. And now that he’s about to exit this life, they are graduating from disciple, to leaders. Kind of a like a coach, patting them on their shoulder saying “you know what to do, now go out and get ‘em!”

verse 17

17 This is my command: Love each other.

Jesus knows the end is here. He’s been telling his disciples for months, trying to get them to understand. He is going to die. In fact, in less that 24 hours he will be in the tomb.
He sums up the most important point he wants them to know right here. Love each other. This is by far the most important commandment Jesus gave to his church. Love each other. We’ve got enough problems out there in the world, but, as my disciples, believers, my church, love each other.


There’s a perspective I never understood until I was a parent myself. We are God’s children, He loves us. He may hate what we do, but he loves us. And like a parent, there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for us. Most times, life sucks, but He knows what we’re going through. He tells us, “I love you. Live the way I’ve taught you. I’ve given you the example in my Son. Do the right thing. Love God, and love each other.”
He chose to love us. He would do anything for us. Including dying for us, that we might be forgiven.
Love, is tough.

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