When we see others as God sees us, then we will be able to share the love, mercy and grace that God has given to us. We are able to walk in the footsteps of Jesus who walked with the intentions of a humbled heart.
a sermon based on John 13:31-35
In today’s reading from John, Jesus knows what’s about to come and that soon he would be lifted up on a cross. Before this happens, he gives his disciples a little bit of good advice and leaves them the legacy of love.
Read: John 13:31-35
Two weeks ago Jesus asked the question do you love me? And if you do…he said…you need to take care of his sheep. Last week he asked who is my mother and brother? He answered by saying those who do the will of God.
That will, as we defined by the words of the prophet Micah, is “What does the Lord require of you but to 1) seek justice, 2) love kindness, and 3) walk humbly before your God.”
Today, Jesus isn’t asking a question. But he is calling his disciples to do something. Love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
In this passage, Jesus specifically states that love is the mark by which we will be known. If we identify ourselves as Christians, then love must be the guide that leads our way to living as such...like Christ.
I would like to walk down that path, following the footsteps of Jesus; watching how he does God’s will by making love the centerpiece of his mission. I want to do this by returning to the words of the prophet Micah.
The first way we can show Christlike love is by seeking Justice. Today, Women’s rights are being challenged again. Basic human rights are being pushed aside for global corporations and special interest groups. And minority rights are almost all but gone. We are so divided that the scales of justice can’t weigh things evenly anymore.
John writes about some Pharisee who brought to Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery. By law these religious men had the right to stone the woman to death. Using her to bait Jesus, they asked him if they should obey the law or not. Knowing what they were up to, Jesus said, “Let any of you who is without sin cast the first stone.”
We like to play judge, jury and executioner – don’t we? The church if famous for that. We like to think our way of doing things is better than anyone else’s. This leads to all sorts of evil being done in the name of God. But that’s not the way Jesus walked. Because Jesus sought God’s will and not his own, he was able to do what was fair and right. As such, the men dropped their stones and the woman’s life was sparred because Jesus doesn’t just talk the talk – he walks the walk.
Jesus’ entire ministry is draped in love and showing kindness towards everyone, especially the minorities and the marginalized. Which takes us to the second point: Kindness. If we want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus then we can’t skip over this simple way of showing love.
Jesus is the poster child of kindness. He once met a leper who shouted, “Lord if you want…you can cure me.”(Mt. 8:1-4) We don’t know if the guy had faith in Jesus or just said this to anyone who passed by. Matthew’s gospel tells us that Jesus recognized him and said, “I want to cure you.” That is kindness.
Jesus teaches us that sometimes rules need not to be broken but simply looked at through the lens of God’s righteousness instead of our own need to be right. When we see others as God sees us, then we will be able to share the love, mercy and grace that God has given to us. We are able to walk in the footsteps of Jesus who walked with the intentions of a humbled heart.
This takes us to our last point…Humility. All four gospels tell numerous stories of Jesus putting other people’s needs before his own. But there was no greater act of humility, then what he did for us on the cross. This was a profound act of love that defined his entire mission.
Jesus faced an unjust trial where kindness was nowhere to be found. Through it, he remained virtually silent. There was no time for talk. He knew had to walk the hardest walk of all. Earlier that night, Jesus prayed “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
From his incarnation to his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus walked humbly with God. We can debate why he had to die – perhaps God really needed a perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins – but we can’t ignore the importance of those words he prayed in the garden that night he humbled himself before his enemies: “not my will but yours be done.”
Our mission in life is to do the will of God – to walk the walk in the footsteps of Christ. And sometimes that requires making tough sacrifices.
Jesus did what was fair and just to sinners and saints alike. So must we.
Jesus showed kindness and compassion, he was loyal in his love, from the greatest to the least of these. So to must we do the same.
Jesus sacrificed his entire life so that we could live throughout eternity.
Are you willing to make a similar sacrifice? Are you willing to give up this life of yours so that God might live in you and be glorified?
Jesus told his disciples that the Son of Man will be seen for who he is, and that God will be seen too… through him. The moment that people are able to see God at work in us, God’s glory will be on display. So perhaps the best way to worship and glorify God isn’t just by going to church but becoming the church, the body of Christ that comes together seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly before God. We are called to let God’s glory shine through us. And there is no better way to do that than by walking as Jesus walked…with God’s love as our guide.
I hope you are beginning to understand that to see and do what Jesus does enables us to learn and teach the will of God.
Jesus said, “Anyone who hears my words...and does them...will be like a house built on rock that can withstand the biggest storms of life.” Imagine facing your worst storms with love instead of fear. Imagine standing in love instead of revenge when people throw rocks at you, or push you way, or seek to crucify you.
It’s one thing to hear the words of Jesus. It’s another to live them so faithfully that God’s glory prevails triumphantly. If you leave here today knowing one thing, I hope it’s that you will be encouraged to let justice, love, kindness, and peace define who you are. May these be the markers that identify you as you walk with Jesus for the life giving glory of God – our creator, our savior and our sustainer. Amen.