I Have Loved You

19 May 2019 – Fifth Sunday of Easter

John 13:31-35

This week’s celebration of Easter glory looks forward to the Ascension. Jesus will be with his little ones, his disciples, only a little longer. He gives them his teaching on the question of how to live so that they will be able to live in his absence as if he were still with them. They will be able to bear witness to his continued lively presence in their lives even though he goes to the Father. Make that, because he goes to the Father. Jesus’ own earthly ministry to the lost sheep of Israel, with a few detours among the Samaritans and the gentiles across the Sea of Galilee, can now expand among all nations.

Jesus gives a commandment of love for living this life. In itself, it is no new commandment. Leviticus 19 calls us not to hate in our hearts, nor seek vengeance nor bear a grudge, but rather to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus’ commandment is not new, but the model for the commanded behavior is new. We are to love our neighbor not only as we love ourselves but as Jesus has loved us. . . .

Though we do not yet see all things made new, we are Easter people. We see, by faith, the newness of the resurrection taking root in our lives. We find opportunities to love one another, disciples filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. We find opportunities to speak of the glory of God’s reign to other little ones who need to hear that Jesus gave his life for his friends. By this everyone will know that Jesus’ love lives on in the heights of heaven and, thanks be to God, in the deepest places of our human lives. –– Paul G. Bieber

Acts 11:1-18

Peter was a Palestinian Jew, who had probably never left the hills of his own country. He wasn’t educated or cosmopolitan. All Peter had was Jesus, which is why Peter was able to challenge the religious party with which he had grown up. This religious party was an ultra-conservative group who believed that Christianity was a movement within Judaism; these believers must first conform to the life and practices of Judaism before becoming Christian (Acts 11:2–3).

Jesus was the reason why Peter was able to counter the authorities with the question, “If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” –– Monica S. Christian

Revelation 21:1-6

John reports his vision of a new heaven, a new earth (see Is 65:17–25), a new creation, and a new Jerusalem coming down from heaven. This is a radical transformation; he reports the former heaven and earth as well as the sea (Rv 13:1—a symbol of chaos) have passed away. He is told that God now will dwell with his people, assured that God will always be with them, will wipe away every tear (Is 25:8), and there will be no more death, mourning, or pain. God then speaks directly to John and declares that he will make all things new. –– Regina A. Boisclair

Paul Bieber is pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church, San Diego, California.

Regina Boisclair, a Roman Catholic biblical scholar, teaches at Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, Alaska.

Monica S. Christian was the director of discipleship, children’s ministry, and youth ministry at First United Methodist Church in Henderson, Tennessee.

Homily Service 43, no. 2 (2009): 130-138

David Turnbloom