We Are Never Left Alone
by Bishop Chris Giesler
Preaching Text: John 14:15-21
Sometimes in a conversation, if somebody says something to us once, we hear it but don’t take it too seriously. If they repeat it, then we might sit up and listen. But if they say it not only a third but then a fourth time, we know we need to pay attention.
So here is how Jesus puts it in this short conversation that we have in our text from John this week:
- If you love me, you will keep my commandments
- They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me
- Those who love me will keep my word
- Whoever does not love me does not keep my words
If you love me, Jesus says, you will keep my commandments.
We say that we love Jesus, but do our actions prove it? Do we keep those commandments? Yes, we can begin with those pesky 10 Commandments, but do you remember how Jesus summed it all up? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’
So honestly, where do we stand? Do we truly love the Lord our God? Have we kept the
But how many things in the world do we love more than we love Jesus? Here is how you can tell: if you were to name two or three things in your life that will make you happy, that is where your love is.
- If I only had that million-dollar Powerball lottery, then I would be happy.
- If I only had a bigger house with just a few more rooms. Then I would be happy.
- If my child would only be the kid I dreamed he or she would be, then I would be happy.
- If my parents would only let me do the things I want to do, and when I want to do them, then I would be happy.
- If I only had a nicer car, then I would be happy.
- If I could only have a couple more weeks of vacation, then I would be happy.
- If the weather would just be the way that I want it, then I would be happy.
- If my co-workers would only think the way that I think, then I would be happy.
- If I could only have that drink, then I would be happy.
- If my spouse could only love me the way that I had dreamed, then I would be happy.
- If I could only feel the affection of someone, then I would be happy.
- There are a million ifs in the world. But all of them are dead-end roads.
But Jesus says if you love me, you will keep my commandments.
You see, in desperately seeking after all of these “if’s,” we compromise the very commandment that Jesus is asking us to keep. We will do almost anything to have one of these “ifs” satisfied, and in doing so, we forget entirely where our priorities should lie.
No wonder it is so hard for us to find peace in life. But the place to start is knowing where true joy comes from. In Jesus telling the parable of the Talents, he affirms the work of the two servants who have doubled the amount of money that he has entrusted to them; he says, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master.” While an amount of money is used in this parable, Jesus uses that money to represent the grace, mercy, and peace that Jesus came to share with the world. These two servants find the joy of their master when they multiply that grace, mercy, and peace into the world. True joy comes not with a life of ease and everybody doing what we think they should. True joy is seeing the world through the eyes of Jesus. True joy comes with living the love of Jesus in our daily lives.
Since the Sunday for which this text is assigned in 2023 is Mother’s Day, it is entirely appropriate to say that the living of God’s love should begin at home. In this text, Jesus says, ”I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while, the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day, you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
Jesus is speaking these words just hours before his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane and less than 20 hours from his death on the cross. He knows he is about to leave his disciples, and this reality is beginning to sink into them. But Jesus promises them they will not be alone; he will grant them the Holy Spirit to guide, nurture, and help them in their daily lives. The words used to describe the Holy Spirit have many of the same qualities we often use to describe our mothers. Our Spiritual forebearer, Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf, often referred to the Holy Spirit using the female pronoun.
Just this past week, I had the chance to visit with my mother in North Carolina, where she is in a nursing facility as she sufferers from dementia and needs constant monitoring. But while she is no longer capable of being the mother she was to me when I was a child, I know that her care, nurturing, and the lessons that I learned from her help me negotiate the world I live in today. And when she passes, those same gifts will go with me always.
In an even more profound way, Jesus is saying that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, will also bring to mind his gifts and abundant love to us when we most need it. I will not leave you orphaned! I will not leave you alone.
Could it be our mission to share this comfort with a world full of lonely people?