Sunday Morning Bible Study
October 6, 1996
We are in the time of the last night before Jesus' death.
We've been looking at this message that Jesus has been giving His disciples using the analogy of a vine and branches.
The whole point has been to demonstrate that if the disciples maintain a close, living relationship with Him, that they would have "fruit" in their lives.
:12-17 Love and Friendship
:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another,
Last week we saw in particular that Jesus promised a greater sense of God's love in our lives if we walked in obedience to Him:
(John 15:10 KJV) If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
Now Jesus reminds them of His basic commandment.
This is something He's already made clear to them that same evening, back in John 13:34-35.
Loving others takes us deeper into God's love for us.
We talked last week about getting under the "waterfall of God's love", and how it happens when we walk in obedience.
Now we see one of the specific areas of obedience that puts us under the waterfall of His love.
It's loving each other.
We see this same principle in John's first letter:
(1 John 4:12 KJV) No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
No man hath seen God at any time- When you talk about God loving us, it's kind of hard to comprehend, because we can't see God with our visible eyes.
If we love one another, God dwelleth in us - when we are loving each other, there is a greater sense of God's presence among us.
Psalm 133:1-2 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! 2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
Ointment, oil, is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
The idea is that we have a greater sense of the Holy Spirit upon us when we're in "unity", when we're loving each other.
his love is perfected in us - it's hard to sense God's love when you can't see Him, but when we are loving each other, and being loved by each other, we experience a greater sense of His love.
On a regular, sunny day, the sun can be warm, but the only way you're going to be burnt from it is if you stay out for a very, very long time.
But if you take a glass lens, and hold it just right, it can focus the light and produce a beam that can set things on fire pretty quickly.
Our love for each other is like a lens, and it focuses God's love on us in an even greater way.
It's not that God's love isn't there, or isn't strong, but when it's run through the lens of our love for each other, we sense it in a greater, stronger way.
We need each other, we need to love each other.
Frankly, this isn't always so easy.
Some of us can get kind of stinky, and are very difficult to love.
Some of us find it much easier hurting others than loving others.
And that makes us harder ones to love.
Yet when we begin to get a handle on loving and accepting each other, unconditionally, just like Jesus, we'll begin to experience an even GREATER outpouring of His love on us!
I don't think it's possible to be receiving all of God's love that you are able, unless you are loving others, and are being loved.
:12 as I have loved you.
The standard by which we are to love each other is Jesus' standard.
Treat others like God would treat them.
There's another passage that talks about how we are to follow God's example in how we treat one another:
Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (AV)
be ye kind- doing good things for others.
God is kind toward us, even when we don't deserve it.
Ro 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness(kindness) of God leadeth thee to repentance? (AV)
A very practical way of loving others like Jesus does, is to be doing good things for them, even if they don't deserve it.
It's like the story of a mother. One day her son found her sitting at the table with an old tramp one day. Apparently she had gone shopping, met the tramp along the way, and invited him home for a warm meal. During the conversation the tramp said, "I wish there were more people like you in the world." Whereupon his mother replied, "Oh, there are. But you must look for them." The old man simply shook his head, saying. "But, lady, I didn't need to look for you. You looked for me."
eusplagchnos - (good + bowels) - having strong bowels (not just from Metamucil); compassionate, tender hearted
To the ancients, the place where all your feelings, your compassion, your tenderness came from, was your bowels.
Mt 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. (AV)
It's the idea that His guts are churning with compassion for the people.
Here in Ephesians, the idea isn't just churning with emotion, but churning with good emotion, with compassion.
It's kind of like the feeling you might have when you pick up a small, warm, cuddly little puppy.
It's kind of like that feeling you get when you see a child hurt, your heart is kind of overwhelmed, and you rush up to do what you can.
But it's something we're supposed to have toward EACH OTHER!
That means big, ugly grownups!
charizomai - this is the verb based on the word for "grace" (charis) - - to do something pleasant or agreeable (to one), to do a favour to; to grant forgiveness, to pardon
It's "forgiving a debt".
If you go to a friend that you owe money to, and plead with them, and they "forgive your debt", then you no longer have to pay it.
When you forgive someone that has wronged you, then you no longer can require them to pay for it.
It's "giving up the button".
The big red one, the one with a key on it, the one marked "Only use in case of nuclear attack".
You are giving up the right to ever launch a counter attack based on this incident.
You are saying, "Even though you hurt me this time, I am choosing never, ever, ever to bring it up again, because it's been forgiven."
This is what God does.
When He forgives, He forgets.
Isa 43:25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. (AV)
I think we need to learn to be a little more careful about using the words, "I forgive you".
I think sometimes we say it just to get the person off our back, when we really don't intend to fully forgive at all.
:13 Greater love hath no man than this,
This is the ultimate kind of love.
:13 that a man lay down his life for his friends.
This is God's love for us.
This is now how Jesus is going to demonstrate true, greater love to His friends.
(1 John 3:16 KJV) Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
This is how we are to love one another.
In the movie "First Kid", the actor Sinbad plays the part of a secret service agent assigned to protect the bratty, spoiled, only son of the president.
At one point he asks his superior what it's like to jump in front of a bullet, and wonders if he'll ever be able to do it, especially for a bratty kid.
As the movie progresses, Sinbad and the first kid actually become friends.
Then at the climax of the movie, the bad guy appears and shoots at the "first kid".
In slow motion, you watch Sinbad jump across the screen, and the bullet hits him instead of the kid.
Would you jump in front of a bullet for the ones you love?
Pretty heavy, emotional stuff, huh?
There's a bad guy, pointing a gun at your kids, and you jump in front, taking the bullet yourself, and saving the day!
How about giving up the playoff game to do the dishes for your wife?
"Hey, you said lay down your life, not give up a ball game!"
Not so melodramatic, huh?
But it's the nitty-gritty of "laying down your life"!
Real love is laying down your rights.
The word translated "life" is psuche, which normally is translated "soul". It's not the word that is usually translated for biological life (zoe).
Laying down your "soul" for another person.
The soul is the place where your emotions, your affections, your desires, your aversions are.
Don't think it's going to always be so melodramatic as actually dying for another person.
It might just be a matter of making yourself more uncomfortable, to help someone else out.
:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
If you're not careful, you can kind of read this with the wrong tone of voice,
"If you don't do what I tell you, then I'm not going to be your friend ..."
That's not the point at all.
You can't claim to be God's friend if you don't obey Him.
You can't just say, "God loves me unconditionally, and so I can do whatever I want, and He still has to love me ..."
Yes, God may still love you, but you are no friend of His.
God isn't expecting you to become a perfect little robot, never making a mistake.
Ps 103:14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we [are] dust. (AV)
But He is expecting that a major change of direction is going to take place in your life.
The last few weeks, I've been trying to clearly show you that there can be no riding the fence with Jesus.
You can't say that you're a Christian is your life is not heading in the direction of obedience.
We saw that a branch that doesn't bear fruit, a person who isn't showing any of God's changes in his life, was cast off into the fire (John 15:2,6)
If you have been surrounding yourself in sin, you need to change.
Don't go away thinking that you can't change.
You can turn around.
Matthew records the first words of Jesus' public ministry:
(Mat 4:17 KJV) From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
If it is impossible for a person to repent and change, why would Jesus have been asking people to do it?
But you must take the first step and call out to God for help.
:15 Henceforth I call you not servants;
There is an aspect that we are the servants, even the "slaves" of Jesus Christ.
He is our Master.
But here, Jesus is trying to contrast a servant with a friend, and how we are now His friends.
:15 for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth:
A master is under no obligation to tell his slave what his plans are.
A master only has to declare what needs to be done, and the slave must obey, without having any idea what for.
The master says "row", and the slave has to obey. (cue "Volga boat song")
Isn't it that way at work for you?
But it's not that way with friends.
Friends are people who share their ideas, their goals, their dreams with each other.
The key to friendship is communication!
Communication isn't "fill in the blanks"
Sometimes I think we feel that if we say a just few things to each other, that somehow the message will get across.
After all, aren't I "communicating"?
It's like the Indians ...
On the morning of the first atomic bomb test near White Sands, New Mexico, two Indian brothers sat looking across the Mesa. Observing the great blast and the resultant mushroom shaped cloud, the one said to the other: "Man, I wish I'd said that!"
We think we're really communicating when all we're doing is sending up a bunch of smoke!
And I'm not too good at smoke signals!
If I were there, I'd probably say, "What'd he say?"
Communication requires understanding.
The Bible says:
(Prov 18:13 NASB) He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.
It's real easy to think we know what the person is saying, and respond, when we haven't heard the whole message yet.
It takes work to understand.
Sometimes what we think we heard, isn't what was meant.
A woman was cleaning the house, singing the gospel song "Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King."
Her young son in the next room began to sing too, but something wasn't quite right, his version was: "Soon, and very soon, we are going to Burger King."
Checking some questionnaires that had just been filled in, a census clerk was amazed to note that one of them contained figures 121 and 125 in the spaces for "Age of Mother, If Living" and "Age of Father, If Living".
"Surely your parents can't be as old as this?" asked the incredulous clerk.
"Well, no," was the answer, "but they would be, if living."
Sometimes you can have a problem just getting out what you really mean.
From an actual series of newspaper clippings:
First Day: FOR SALE -- R.D. Jones has one sewing machine for sale. Phone 958-3030 after 7 p.m. and ask for Mrs. Kelly who lives with him cheap.
Next day the ad was "corrected" to read: NOTICE -- We regret having erred in R.D. Jones' ad yesterday. It should have read: One sewing machine for sale. Cheap. Phone 958-3030 and ask for Mrs. Kelly who lives with him after 7 p.m.
That correction was "corrected" the day after. It read: R.D. Jones has informed us that he has received several anonymous telephone calls because of the error we made in his classified ad yesterday. His ad stands corrected as follows: FOR SALE -- R.D. Jones has one sewing machine for sale. Cheap. Phone 958-3030 after 7 p.m. and ask for Mrs. Kelly who loves with him.
Finally, the day after, Mr. Jones "corrected" the ad himself with a second ad: NOTICE -- I, R.D. Jones, have no sewing machine for sale. I SMASHED IT. Don't call 958-3030 as the telephone has been taken out. I have not been carrying on with Mrs. Kelly. Until yesterday she was my housekeeper, but SHE QUIT!
Take time to communicate.
Learn to ask youself, "Did I really understand that correctly?"
Before you explode, is it just possible that you misunderstood?
Learn to respond with feedback,
"I heard you say ..." and then tell in your own words what you thought you heard.
Don't be the "average" dad -
(from Dr. Dobson ...) A team of researchers wanted to learn how much time middle-class fathers spend playing and interacting with their small children. First, they asked a group of fathers to estimate the time spent with their one-year-old youngsters each day, and received an average reply of fifteen to twenty minutes. To verify these claims, the investigators attached microphones to the shirts of small children for the purpose of recording actual parental verbalization. The results of this study are shocking: The average amount of time spent by these middle-class fathers with their small children was thirty-seven seconds per day! Their direct interaction was limited to 2.7 encounters daily, lasting ten to fifteen seconds each! That, so it seems, represents the contribution of fatherhood for millions of America's children.
Good communication takes a little more than 37 seconds per day!
Note: If you're not working at communication in your marriage, perhaps you're treating each other more like slaves than friends!
Think about that for awhile ...
:15 but I have called you friends;
As He just said in the previous verse.
And of course, He's talking about those who obey Him. (vs.14)
:15 for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
Jesus is saying that He's not holding anything back from the disciples.
He's been telling them what's up ahead.
Now whether they've been comprehending it all is another thing.
But He's doing His part and letting them know what's up ahead.
God has things to say to you.
After all, you are His friend.
He tells us:
Jer 33:3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. (AV)
Have you called on Him?
Are you listening?