Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Servant is Not Greater than His Master (Jn. 15:16-24)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermon on 19 August 2012 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church Singapore. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 15:16-24

God takes the initiative. All that is good and perfect comes from the Father. It is in His initiative that we have received His grace. Our Lord initiatively loved us and commanded us to follow His example to initiatively love others.

It is easy to say but difficult to do. We want other people to be nice to us before we are nice to them. If people are nice to us, we try to be nicer to them. If they are bad towards us, we tend to treat them badly too. So our love is not active but reactive. We trying to be nicer to others who are nice to us, we boast that we are better than others and we have shown ourselves to be passive.

Jesus said to love others the way He loves us. This is proactive love. If we love one another, people will recognise that we are Christ’s disciples. As Christians we need to change the society actively. Jesus said My joy will be found in you. If we love by the love of Christ, we will have the fullness of joy when we obey God’s will.

Jesus said there is no greater love than one who is willing to lay down his life for his friends. When are we willing to give our life to others? And what right have we that Jesus should love us to the extent He died for us? We speak big words but in reality we are very cold.

Jesus also said to His disciples, “I no longer call you servants but I call you my friends.” In the Old Testament, only one person is known as the friend of God. In the New Testament, another 11 were called the friends of God. What a noble thing to become His friend. We are Jesus’ friends.

Jesus continued, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (Jn. 15:18). Why would the world hate us? Because we do not belong to the world. It is not convenient to believe in Jesus. That is why many people do not want to believe.

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”(v. 19). If you become a Christian, the world also judges you by a higher standard.

If the world did not accept Jesus, should we expect the world to accept us? If we want to follow the Lord, we will suffer. We will be persecuted. There will be many challenges before we enter the Kingdom of God. If we determine to live a holy life, we will surely be persecuted. The world will only love those who belong to the world. The world will hate those who belong to Christ because the world has hated Christ first.

The challenges ahead all come because of the love of God. We need to know, they do not hate you, but Me.

In 1 Pet 3:1, it says we have left the decadence of the world and become partakers of God, that means we will live a holy life. It means we partake in God’s ethics and morality which includes, justice, compassion, mercy, righteousness and holiness. When we share in God’s morality, we share in the sufferings of God’s Son. Thus we have a part in the ethics of God and a part in His sufferings.

Are you willing to suffer with Christ? Are you willing to carry your cross? The glory to come is through sufferings.

Jesus said, “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” (Jn. 15:20)

Who causes us to to recollect what Jesus said? The Spirit of truth, i.e. the Holy Spirit, reminds us of Jesus’ teaching. What does He remind us? He reminds us of what Jesus said. Particularly in the passage, Jesus said a servant is not greater than his master. What are these words for? Here Jesus is not talking about academic excellence. He is referring to sufferings. The sorrow that He must suffer is greater than what we will suffer. The burden of the Son of man is greater than the burden we carry, and the persecution faced by the Son of God is greater than what we will go through. None of us will suffer more than Christ. No one carries greater burden, feels greater loneliness, faces greater hatred, than Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, “If they hate me, they will hate you. They persecute me, they will persecute you.” In the midst of persecution, remember your Lord. This comfort will surpass what psychologists can give you.


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