We Like The Law! It's Easier! Rev. Irvin Stapf

Posted by Wittenberg Project on Tuesday, June 04, 2024 with No comments

   An Observation: We like The Law. It’s easier!

In the last post I mentioned that I was delayed in uploading my post because “life happened and we had to comply”. Well the life that happened was a four day stay in the hospital for my wife who had some respiratory and related problems. We are home now and she is doing well. During that hiatus in other activities I was reading John chapters 14 & 15 where Jesus is preparing his disciples for his soon departure.
In the 13th chapter Jesus had washed the disciples feet with the instruction “If I your teacher and Lord washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” (Vs.14) The whole evening in that Upper Room was a very intense time for Jesus’ followers. Events were going in a direction they didn’t expect and weren’t sure they wanted. Jesus, seeking to comfort them, said, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. ... I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself...” (14:1-3)
He continues on in verse 15, “If you love Me you will keep My commandments.” Ah! Commandments. Now there is something specific we can get our mind around! This is why I titled this section “We Like The Law.” Do this the way we were told and all will be fine. We will have done it, and we are good.
But then Jesus continues to speak of the coming reality of the Holy Spirit, The Helper, the third person of the Holy Trinity. He is the Spirit of truth who will be in them. (Vs.17) Jesus again speaks of His commandments. “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” (vs.21) He goes on further about disciples who keep His word, (vs.23) and how He has kept the Father’s word and obeyed His commandments.(vs.31) “Okay Lord, tell us what the commandment is! We’ll do it.”
Then in Chapter 15 of St. John’s Gospel Jesus give the image of the vine and branches. How they have to be tended, pruned, and some parts discarded “so that it may bear more fruit.”(15:2) The whole picture shows us the necessity of the branch - the disciples and us - staying connected to the vine. It is only by abiding in the vine so that there is a continuous flow of nutrients that the vine “can bear much fruit”. “For apart from Me you can do nothing.”(vs.5)
The image of abiding in Jesus continues, coming down to verse 12 and 13 where Jesus specifically declares, “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” This comes to the depth of the Gospel. Jesus has loved us so much, each and every one of us, that He has laid down His life in atonement for our sins. We are justified and declared forgiven before Almighty God because Jesus has atoned for all of our sins. We, then, are called to abide in Him so continually that we are willing to lay down our life for others. Maybe that means dying to our own pride so we can get on our knees to wash another’s dirty feet. Maybe it does mean sacrificing our own life to save another person. There are all degrees of fruit bearing in between as guided by the abiding presence of God, the Holy Spirit. This is why I wrote of the death and resurrection of parts of our own nature in Christian Maturity - Part 2.
We see the Law as much easier. It is by the Law that we like to say, “I’m not a bad person. There are a lot of people worse than me. I followed the law. I do what I’m supposed to do.” But when we truly realize that we have been loved by God our Father, loved so deeply that He gave the life of His only begotten Son in atonement for all of our sins so that we might have a continuing life with Him, it is into that love that we are willing to abide and seek to do the same.
May God’s Spirit guide each of us day by day more deeply into Jesus’ love. Amen.
(Words we can trust: Jeremiah 18:1-6; 29:11; 31:3,
                  & above all Romans 8:38-39)
Irvin F. Stapf, Jr.
Pastor Emeritus
Christ Lutheran Church, TAALC
Germantown, Md. 
cell: 240-285-4472