Good Friday 2004
Macomb – Good Friday, 2004
ILL: Just over 10 years my grandparents were making their annual trip back from their wintering in Arizona. Along their way grandma noticed a lump on grandpa Gearhart’s neck. Once they arrived back home to Hadley, Michigan they went to see their doctor about it. Just a few days later we received the word that my grandpa had cancer. It was a pretty fast moving strain. In just a couple month, grandpa was not able to move around much at all. I remember many things from that time. Most of all, I remember things that grandpa said to me. I’ll never forget the day when my dad and Uncle Dave carried grandpa to the car for the last time, for once there he would not leave the hospital again. I also will never forget the last time I saw grandpa alive. I wasn’t sure if it would be the last time, but it was. As it came time to leave, one by one we each walked up to the hospital bed to say goodbye to grandpa. As I approached the bed I began to sob and I tried to tell grandpa I loved him. I’m not sure how much of what I said he could understand through my sobs, but I will never forget what he then said. He said, “Joel, I love you and remember, God makes no mistakes.”
Several weeks later I was at home with my two younger brothers when the phone rang. My parents had left a short time before to meet grandma and Uncle Dave and Aunt Kathy to go see grandpa. A man, I don’t know who, was calling to express his condolences to my dad. I said “thank you,” hung up the phone and began to cry. I knew my grandpa hand passed into eternity. As I stood there in the kitchen by the phone his last words kept playing back in my head. “Joel, I love you and remember, God makes no mistakes.” Those words are so very precious to me because they are the last words that Grandpa Gearhart spoke to me, they are important words I will cherish for the rest of my life.
This afternoon, we are going to focus on someone else’s last words, his last words before his death.
TEXT: John 15:8-17
So what makes last words so special? They are obviously special because they are the last opportunity for individuals to communicate, and often they are very important and from the heart, one last thing that they make sure to say because it needs to be said. Here in John we find Christ with His disciples for the last time during the Passover week, the last week of Christ’s earthly life and the last words we find from Christ are very special to His disciples and very important as well. They are also very important to us. Beginning in chapter 13, John records for us Christ’s words from the last week of His earthly life. In Christ’s last words He shares with His disciples and with us, three important truths
NOTICE FIRST OF ALL…
I. Christ's Command - v. 9-14,17 (Read)
Christ’s command was and is that we are to continue in love.
ILL: I will never forget my great grandma and grandpa Patchett. He was an elderly man with a full head of hair as white as snow; She, a wonderful grandmotherly lady. I vaguely remember several times visiting them in their old gray house on Hadley Road. The things I remember include great grandpa’s old chicken coupe that he had converted into a workshop – so many neat tools and too little time, the tree – the most wonderful climb-on-play-on-and-around-tree I have ever seen. The other thing I remember most is great grandpa and grandma together. They lived through the Great Depression, World War I and II, and so many other tumultuous times. Through thick and thin my great grandparents stuck together. To make ends meet Grandpa Patchett held down many different jobs. He was a farmer, a custodian, a house builder, a salesman, a carpenter, and for a time was a greens keeper at Oakland Hills Country Club. He loved his wife and provided for her. In my life they were a wonderful living example of love that continued. They were married for well over 60 years. Through good times and bad they stuck together because of their continuing love.
That is what Christ’s command is, that we continue in love. Christ is telling His disciples, “I am leaving you, but don’t stop what you are doing. Keep loving those around you like you are, like I have loved you. Don’t give up, don’t quit just because I am gone. Display to others a love that is for the long haul.” What kind of love is Christ talking about? Verse 13 answers that question. Christ tells us . . . Then Christ takes it a step further. He has just said that the love He is talking about is a love that gives up one’s life for another.
That is an amazing love. But then He says, it is not something that it would be good if you could do, He says that we are His friends if we do what He has commanded us. Therefore, He is saying we are not His friends if we do not display that love through our lives. Christ is telling His disciples and us that it is crucial that we have that type of love in our actions to those around us.
In verse 11 John also shares the result of continuing in love – a life full of joy.
The first truth Christ shares with us is in His command – that we must continue in love.
NOTICE SECOND OF ALL . . .
II. Christ's Choice - v. 16a (Read)
Christ’s Choice was and is to love and use the unlovable.
ILL: When I was in elementary school I hated playing baseball or basketball when we picked teams. Through 7th grade I was always the smallest, scrawniest kid playing, no matter what. And you know who doesn’t get picked until the very end – the smallest, scrawniest kids of course – in other words ME! I never got picked first, or second, or third, or even fourth. I was always at the end. That isn’t a fun feeling, wondering if you are going to be the last pick, again.
In the game of life, we as humans are so small and scrawny. We deserve to be picked last every single time. In comparison to Christ and in comparison to what we could be, we are scrawny. But the wonderful truth is that Christ chose to love and to use us even though we were and are so unlovable, so spiritually scrawny. Yet, Christ loved me, loved you.
Christ first gives the command that we are to continue in love but then He says, “You can continue in love because I have chosen you, I love you and give you the power and ability to love others in great ways.”
The New Testament tells us that “we love Him because He first loved us.” Anything we do, any love that we display to others takes place because Christ first loved us and chose to use us.
We saw Christ’s command – that we continue in love, and Christ’s choice – that He chose to love and use the unlovable - us. Now we come to the last truth Christ shares with us from this passage.
NOTICE THIRD OF ALL . . .
III. Christ's Cause - v. 16b (Read)
Christ’s Cause is two parts - to Proclaim (Our responsibility) And Give (Christ’s responsibility) Eternal Life.
This is the theme that John weaves throughout his gospel. John 1:1,7 start off the book by proclaiming… John 3:16-18 says… John 17:21,23 say… John 18:37 adds…Just as we find this theme throughout the book of John, others aught to see that very same theme woven through each of our lives as we bear fruit.
ILL: How many have every seen an infomercial on TV? Just about every day there are infomercials on the Golf Channel advertising some new golf gizmo. Over and over again they play these spots trying to get you to buy their contraption that will lower your golf score. They have something that will help you improve your score and they do all they can to let you know about it.
The middle of verse 16 tells us that we are to bring forth fruit. We are to be about the business of being a living infomercial for Christ - over and over again, through our lives and through our words, sharing the message of Christ to a lost and dieing world. We have something that will help them so much more than a gizmo that will improve their golf score. We have the message of eternal life and how they can possess it through a relationship with Christ.
John 20:31 says . . . In this verse we find the purpose for the book of John – that theme he has woven throughout. It is that we might believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. That is Christ’s cause. We can be a part of that cause if we go out and bring forth fruit, sharing Christ’s good news with the world.
Today we have seen the last words of Christ, those special and important words. He gave His command – that we continue in love. He made His choice – to love and use the unlovable - us. And shared His cause – to proclaim (our responsibility) and give (Christ’s responsibility) eternal life. That is what is so crucial for us, that Christ chose to communicate with us just before His crucifixion.