The readings that the following "sermon bites" are based off of are listed, but not printed below. It will be helpful to have your Bible in hand. If you don't have your Bible, but have the internet on hand, you might try using "BibleGateway.com".
Good evening. Today is the day of the church year called, “Maundy Thursday”. The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin word, “Maude” or “Mandatum” which means “commandment”.
But the commandment that we speak of tonight is not one of the ten given by God through Moses. No, the commandment that we consider this Thursday is the one that was spoke by Jesus to His disciples in the upper room, on the night before He was crucified.
There Jesus gave His disciples the Lord’s Supper for the first time. There He also spoke these words,
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 NKJV).
Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the indwelling of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you and worthily praise your holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
READ: John 13:1-17
“LOVE ONE ANOTHER”
He is the greatest man at the table. The Teacher. The miracle worker. The Son of God. Yet He gets up so that He might serve. He takes a basin of water and washes the feet of His students. His friends. His children by faith. By doing this He teaches them that being His disciple means learning to love others with acts of service.
“8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV).
Christians are people of faith. We believe that God loves us. We believe that God’s Son has saved us from hell. But our faith does not end there. Our faith comes full circle, is completed, each time we who know God’s love, love each other.
“You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” (James NIV).
To say that our works complete our salvation is wrong. Jesus completed our salvation on the cross. That’s what He meant when He said, “It is finished” (John ). But to think that God’s ONLY purpose in bringing us to faith is to save us from hell, is also wrong.
“…we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:13-14).
Jesus speaks to you, dear Christians, “Love one another.”
READ: John 14:15-30
“NOW WE LOVE JESUS”
Jesus taught He loves the Father, by doing what the Father commanded. Jesus was born in a humble stable, in a little known town, to a set of ordinary parents. He lived a quiet life that was little noticed, until He turned thirty and began preaching.
He let Himself be betrayed into the hands of His enemies because that was God’s plan. He didn’t defend His innocence when He was on trial. He didn’t fight back when He was scourged. He carried a cross that wasn’t His own. He let the sins of the world slip onto His shoulders, and felt the punishment for our sins descend on Him like a storm.
Jesus’ obedience showed His love for His Heavenly Father, and His love for us.
In the same way, our obedience to Jesus, shows our love for Him. However, unlike Jesus’ obedience to the Father, the way we follow Jesus’ teachings is not perfect. We fail the test of perfect love with every sin we commit. The only way that Christians ever keep Jesus’ commands is through the Holy Spirit whom He has graciously sent into our hearts. Through the Spirit sent from Christ we learn to know true peace.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”(John NIV).
The world gives only when we give first. Jesus doesn’t give like this. Jesus gives to us first. He has freely given us peace with God by taking our sins away.
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV).
Jesus loved us. Now we love Jesus.
READ: John 15:1-17
“LIFE, LOVE AND JOY FROM THE VINE”
Ask a grape farmer what a branch needs to produce grapes and he might say, “Water, soil, and sunlight.” He probably wouldn’t point out the critical requirement Jesus did. In order for a branch to produce fruit, it has to be attached to the vine.
Jesus’ comparison is so simple, yet so profound. As it says in Hebrews,
“…without faith it is impossible to please God,” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV).
Jesus commanded His disciples to show their love for Him, by loving each other. Here Jesus reveals that this would be impossible if not for their connection to Him.
When a person is joined to Jesus, fruits of faith are produced. Good words and good actions are found. They might be some sickly looking fruit. Patience smaller than it should be. Shaky peace. Kindness tainted by a judgmental attitude. But imperfect fruit is still fruit. And where there is fruit, the Father Gardener prunes and tends so that more fruit will be produced.
Jesus told His disciples,
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John NIV).
Jesus was happy to be connected to those disciples. Because He was, His sinless life was theirs. His life of obedience and love would flow into them, bringing growth, and fruit to their lives. Through this connection, their joy would be complete.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, you are clean because of the Word Jesus has spoke to you. Remain in Him and He will remain in you.
READ: John 16:17-33
“THE THOUGHTFULL LOVE OF JESUS”
Jesus’ love for His disciples is shown by His willing sacrifice. Jesus’ love for His disciples is also shown by the patience thoughtfulness He displays toward them here.
Jesus was about to begin the final leg of His journey to the cross. This would be the hardest part. But He does not sermonize about the suffering He is about to endure. Instead, Jesus warns His disciples that THEY are about to enter into a time of great sadness.
They had experienced the smiles and happiness of His joyful entry into
On the verge of their time of grief, Jesus comforts His disciples in advance. He tells them that He will see them again, they will rejoice, and no one will take away their joy. And with these words Jesus prepares them for every sorrow that they might ever face.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John NIV).
After Jesus was raised from the dead, the disciples would be able to look back and say, “Our grief was but for a time, and was followed with unspeakable joy.” This could then be said through any time of trouble, “Our grief will be but for a time, and it WILL be followed by unspeakable joy. For just like then, we WILL see Him again.”
As Jesus’ disciples, we can say the same. We will have trouble in this world, but take heart, Jesus has overcome the world.
READ: John 17:1-5, 13-26
“TO FULLY KNOW THE GOD OF LOVE”
“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (2 Corinthians NIV).
Though Jesus has taken away our spiritual blindness, allowing us to see Him as our Savior and God as our loving Father, we do not fully comprehend what it will mean to see God face to face.
What will it be like to behold Jesus arrayed in all the glory that He had before the world began? Will it be like the brightness of an ever exploding star? Will His glory shower over us like a warm blanket and a rushing hurricane all wrapped up in one?
What will it be like to feel the love of God with every bit of our being? Will it be like the embrace of a mother holding her newborn child for the first time? Will it be like the prodigal son’s father taking his lost son into his arms with complete forgiveness and eternal affection?
Like so many things in life, these things can only be known by experience. But that experience has begun for us, dear Christians. For Jesus has begun to reveal the Father to us, and will continue to do so, so that we may know what it means to SEE God and to be joined WITH Him in PERFECT unity.
This is why we join here to worship Jesus. This is why we ponder His every word together. He is God’s Son through whom the Father has revealed His love to us.
“9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9-11 NIV).