JESUS CHRIST LOVED YOU TO THE END!
I know you love that way too. I’m not talking about some mushy, gushy romantic notion of love like we read in old love sonnets, or see on some sappy movies; I’m not talking about that notion of love that comes with violins and tweeting birds and some little guy with wings and a diaper shooting you in the heart with a frilly little bow. No I’m talking about real love. Look around at one another. Do you love your wife or husband, do you love your children, do you love your parents, and do you love your friends. Well of course you do. Otherwise, how do we keep from killing one another when we become entirely unlovable. If parents did not truly love their children to the end, their child’s end would most like come with puberty. If wives didn’t love their husbands to the end, the end of husbands would likely come sooner rather than later, because let’s face it, how often are we guys truly lovable. It is easy to love someone when you are feeling affection and attraction, but what about when you can’t stand the very sight of them, when you don’t even like them a little. We’ve all been there, called to love when you don’t even like the one you are committed to love. Of course you love. Without true love, separate and distinct from the feelings that lead us to love, this world would be utter chaos.
Scripture teaches us that love is the heart of the law, or rather, love is God’s gift to us, given to control our society so we might exist, but it is also there to show us also how limited our capacity is to love. Sin is nothing more or less than our failure to love to the end and truly keeping the law of love requires us to totally set aside ourselves, our position, pride, wants and desires for God and our neighbor. To keep the law you must to actively choose to give yourself entirely to God and your neighbor with no expectation of anything in return. And how many of us can do that? You see, as the fallen sinful beings, our understanding of love has become twisted into something selfish; love has become about something we feel. If I feel like birds suddenly appear every time you are near, well, then I must have fallen in love, and likewise, when those feelings suddenly disappear, well then obviously I must have fallen out of love. But that is not the real gift of love from God. No, that is what we twist love into through our sin. We take the most precious gift of God for His creation and turn it into something selfish, cheap, and tawdry. In our sin, we make weak and insipid, something so truly powerful that it is intended to bind all life on this world together. And so, to restore to us that great gift of love that makes all life possible, God sent His Son. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever trusts in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”
After His resurrection – when he had conquered death itself – Jesus found His disciples cowering in a locked room, afraid for their lives. And appearing to them, He said, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, even so I am sending you.” Jesus sent His disciples, Jesus sent you just as the Father sent Him. In other words, for Christ so loves the world that He sent you, that whoever hears your Good News and trusts in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For Christ did not send you into this world to condemn the world, but in other that the world might be saved by Him working through you. Didn’t you know, that this is what your here for? Jesus said, “As the Father sent me, even so (or just in the same way) I am sending you. The Father sent Jesus to love you to the end, and that end has been accomplished. You have seen the risen Lord, in His Word and in His sacrament and in His Body here, and you have received His salvation through the water and the Word, dying to sin with Him on the cross and being raised with Him in His resurrection to life everlasting. Jesus has returned to His Father and reunited you to your heavenly Father, He has returned to His God and reconciled you to God. And through the grace of the Father through faith in Jesus Christ, His love has worked its end in you.
And now, Jesus has sent you, individually and together as His real presence in this community to save it. He has clothed you in the power of the Holy Spirit. He has armored you with such power that “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them” and “if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” And He has armed you with the very Word of God; the Word that was in the beginning and was with God and was God. Christ has armed you with the very Word through which all things were made and without which nothing was made. Christ has armed you with the Word written that you and all the world “might trust that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by trusting you may have life in His name.” Jesus Christ has saved you from the power of sin and death through faith in Him. Through His death and resurrection Jesus Christ has loved you to the end, that end being life. And through Jesus Christ – sent by the Father – God has returned true love, powerful love, life binding love to the world. And that same Jesus Christ has chosen you and armored you with the Holy Spirit and armed you with the Word of creation. And that same Jesus Christ has sent you even as the Father sent Him into your world, to bring that true, powerful and life binding love to your neighbor and to bring about Christ’s end through that love. The same Jesus Christ that worked the end of His love in you, saving you, has now sent you to work the end of His love in your world. Jesus Christ has sent you to save the world? Will you go?
JESUS CHRIST LOVES YOU TO THE END! NOW WHAT ABOUT YOU? Amen.