All You Need Is Love
5th Sunday of Easter
All You Need Is Love
Text: John 13:31-35
If you have been around Christ the King a while, and if you have listened to more than a few sermons from this preacher before, then you may have a smile forming on your face. Those of you veteran Christ the King sermon listeners may have seen this sermon theme today, smiled, and thought, “Oh boy. Pastor is going to sing in his sermon again. I just know it. He’s going to sing the Beatles to get our attention for the sermon.” And if that’s what you CTK veterans thought . . . then you were absolutely right!
It’s easy. All you need is love, all you need is love, all you need is love, love, love is all you need. So sang John, Paul, George, and Ringo on June 25, 1967 in the world’s first live global television production called Our World. The song was broadcast to 26 countries and viewed by 400 million people.
John Lennon wanted the message of the song to be simple and clear. Like many of the Beatles’ songs, it was a call to change the world. All wars and violence would end, everyone would get along, and there would be peace everywhere if there would just be love. It’s easy. All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
Though John, Paul, George, and Ringo were very good singers, they were also very poor theologians. Buy their music. Don’t buy into their philosophies. However, it just so happens that with this one song they got one thing right: All You Need Is Love.
The setting was Maundy Thursday. It was the night before Jesus died. He and his disciples were gathered in an upper room for the Last Supper, and Jesus was doing some last minute teaching. Judas had just run out of the room to carry out his plan of betrayal.
“When he was gone, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.” Jesus was about to carry out the plan of salvation and die for the sins of all people. His victory would bring him glory and would give God the Father glory.
But once his plan was accomplished, he would be leaving and returning to heaven (in two Sundays we will talk about his ascending into heaven). “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.” The disciples couldn’t go with him. Jesus was leaving them behind to do his work.
So before Jesus finished his work and before Jesus left, he gave one new command to his disciples of all time: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
There was really nothing new about this command. God has always wanted his people to show love. But now instead of saying, “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not do this, and do not do that,” Jesus summarizes all of God’s commands in just one phrase: “Love one another.”
In other words, if you want to know what God wants from you, if you want to know how to obey God and how to treat other people, it’s really very easy: All You Need Is Love.
A certain woman was a long time member of a church. Her in-laws were even some of the first members of the congregation. But over time this woman became a bit grouchy, to say the least. Little things that other people did bothered her. Little things that her pastor did really bothered her. She became more and more angry. Eventually she hardly talked to anyone at the church, let alone looked anyone in the eye.
When the church no longer employed her as a Preschool assistant, in spite she tried to open her own in-home Preschool to undercut the church. She would borrow her husband’s keys and steal Preschool supplies from the church late at night to stock her own Preschool. Yet she proudly came to church every week because it was “her church” and no one could do anything about it. At the same time, she purposely walked out during the closing hymn every Sunday just so that she didn’t have to walk out and shake the pastor’s hand.
In that same congregation they were looking to make some improvements. They had been blessed and had grown so quickly that the distribution of the Lord’s Supper was taking a really long time. In order to be more efficient and move a bit more quickly, careful plans were made and instructions given about a new procedure for lining up for Communion distribution.
A certain gentleman, who also happened to be one of the most tenured members, was not happy. He always sat in the exact same seat every single week—to the point that if a visitor even dared sit in “his chair” he would scowl at the person so that the hint would be given that it better never happen again. This gentleman was so upset and angry that the Communion distribution procedure was changing a little bit for the first time after more than a decade that he no longer sat in “his seat.” He would grab a folding chair and set it behind all the pews and sat by himself (away from his wife even) so that everyone would no exactly what he thought.
Not much love in those two. How awful. Thank goodness that didn’t happen at Christ the King. That would never happen here!
Friends, let’s not blindly or arrogantly fool ourselves. This new-old command from Jesus is one of the most difficult commands we could possibly keep. It’s also one that we constantly fail to keep.
Do you always stop, wait, and think before you click SEND on that fiery, sharp Email or text message? Do you think about your snide, snippy remark before it zips of your lips? Are you calm, cool, and collected when your blood starts to boil?
Are you always patient with others, even when they get on your nerves a little bit? Are you patient with your family member that is acting like an immature imbecile? Are you patient with the person that cut you off at Walmart with two shopping carts and 4,000 items while the line is already seven people deep and the checkout clerk is clearly not in any hurry?
Do you take other’s words and actions in the kindest possible way? Do you assume that people are telling you the truth? Do you assume that people aren’t trying to insult you or hurt your feelings? Or do you always assume that someone is out to get you, intentionally being mean, and thus, clearly deserves your anger and payback?
Surely we would never speak words to others oozing with sharp, painful sarcasm. Surely we would never give the onerous, evil eye to other people at church when we don’t approve of what they are doing. Surely we would never be offended by someone and then never talk to them, but rather let the pain and anger well up inside. Surely we would never talk behind someone’s back and share with others just how stupid we think that person is.
Oh my, how unloving we can be! Listen again to love’s description in 1 Corinthians 13: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” Oh my. Love never fails, but my love seems to always fail. If All You Need Is Love to fulfill Jesus’ command, then I need a lot of help.
What I really need is Jesus and his love. Jesus said, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Remember how Jesus has loved you.
Just minutes before Jesus spoke these words, the maker of the heavens and the earth stooped down to wash the dusty, dirty feet of his disciples. Just an hour or two after these words Jesus was betrayed by his own friend and disciple Judas. Just a few hours later Jesus was being whipped and scourged and beaten because of people filled with hatred, not love. Just a few hours after that Jesus was nailed to a cross to pay for all of our anger and hatred and rage and revenge and gossip and impatience and all our other unloving actions. Just a few hours after that our loving God died for a world of unloving people.
Indeed the time had come for the Son of God to be glorified and for his Father in heaven to be glorified. Jesus would receive ultimate glory for showing perfect love beyond what we could fathom or do. The Father would receive ultimate glory for saving sinful people through his Son.
Thus daily we fall to our knees in such thanks and praise, giving glory to our God that he would love us enough to die for us. He loved us enough to forgive our love-less lives. He loved us enough to call pathetic sinners his own dear children. All You Need Is Love—Jesus’ love, because Jesus’ love forgives all our sins.
So if you want to know what true love is, then simply look at Jesus. If you want to know what it is like to show love as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13, then simply look to Jesus. And if you want to know how to better love your spouse, then look to Jesus. If you want to know how to be more patient and more loving with your children, then look to Jesus. If you want to know how to be a more dedicated and more involved church member, then look to Jesus. If you want to know how to be a better employee, a better neighbor, a better citizen, then look to Jesus.
Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Jesus showed us merciful, boundless love that led him to sacrifice himself for us despite anything we have ever done. That love leads us to love others.
What a difference that will make! When you think about your Savior’s forgiving love before you send that Email or text, what a difference in the words we will choose! When you think about your Savior on the cross for you before you talk about someone or to someone, what a difference that will make. When we think about our Savior’s choice in loving sinners before we make choices as a congregation, what a difference that will make. When we think about our Savior helping us, the helpless, before we help those in need, what a difference that will make!
This is why Jesus says, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” When other people in the world see us showing this kind of love, there is only one conclusion to make: “That person must be a Christian! That person must follow Jesus! Only someone filled with Jesus’ love could love like Jesus did.”
The word love in our society is so pathetically watered down. We overuse, or better, misuse that word all the time. We talk about loving Coke and loving Big Macs and loving Apple computers and loving puppies and loving the Jacksonville Jaguars (though I’m not sure anyone does that anymore).
True, biblical love is much different. That love is patient, kind, humble, selfless, trusting. True love is like the love that Jesus showed us.
The Beatles sang about love a lot, and a lot of those songs were pretty awesome. They aren’t even close to Bible scholars, but at least they got one thing right: All You Need Is Love. But more specifically, all we need is Jesus’ love. We need his love to continually forgive us and our loveless lives. Then we need his true love to fill us with true love for others. With his love in our hearts, we can love anyone, any time, all the time.
Look to Jesus. Look to his love. Be filled with his love. Then love like he loved you.
Posted on April 28, 2013, in Church, Sermons and tagged 1 Corinthians 13, Agape Love, Beatles, Church, George Harrison, Impatience, Jesus, John, John 13, John Lennon, Love, Love Chapter, Patience, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.