Scott Moore, Erfurt, Germany
What is the most difficult thing you have ever done for a friend?
Jesse Yuth, an 18-year old high school student from Signal Hill, California, died after jumping 50 feet from the cliff at Hermit Falls cliff to the water below. He would’ve have survived if he hadn’t tried to save the friend he had jumped with moments before. Jesse’s friend immediately started to drown when they hit the water. Jesse, who was also injured, didn’t try to save himself. Instead, he tried to save his friend. He wasn’t able to because of his own injuries. That’s when Jesse’s cousin jumped in and pulled the friend to shore. When Jesse’s cousin, David Chhom, went back to get Jesse, it was too late: Jesse had drowned.
- When have you ever been in a life-threatening situation?
- When have you ever witnessed someone else in a life-threatening situation?
- When are risky behaviors like cliff jumping worth it?
Sixth Sunday of Easter
(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year B at Lectionary Readings
For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.
Jesus isn’t the unreachable or distant teacher and master, who we are in awe of and just wish we could get close to. Yes, we learn from Jesus and his words and actions. Yes, he calls us to follow him. Yes, Jesus boldly commands us to follow and act. But, and this is a big ‘but’, Jesus changes the rules of the game in this part of his “Farewell Discourse” (Chapters 14-17) here in the Gospel of John. He has given the disciples, and now us, a promotion so to speak.
The disciples are his friends. Those who follow Jesus are friends. Followers of Jesus are friends because Jesus loves them. Jesus loves us. And, Jesus keeps his friends in his circle of information. They are in the know. Whatever God has told Jesus, Jesus shares. Just as God, in a great act of love, chose the children of Israel and led them into freedom from bondage in Egypt, Jesus chooses us. Just as God gave his chosen people teachings and commandments as a way for them to abide in God’s love, Jesus shares commandments and teachings so we can stay in him and his love.
Jesus’ words lead to our actions. Jesus’ words also are a glimpse of what is to come, “no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus is planning to do just that: lay down his life for us. Jesus chooses us, reaches out to us, claims us, and calls us friends. Jesus dies for us to add power to his words. There is no greater love than what God has shown the world in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
But all this friendship and all this love isn’t just a one-way love affair between Jesus and each one of us. Jesus does this and invites us, commands us rather, to love him back…and…to love one another. If we love Jesus, then we will love each other. It sounds simple and yet it often requires us to take a leap of faith. It requires us to take risks. It requires us to be vulnerable sometimes. Loving is risky business. Great love might lead to great sacrifice. God’s love did, that’s for certain.
- When have you ever wanted to be friends with someone who seemed too distant/important/cool?
- What is it like to have a friend who you know everything about?
- When have you had a friend with whom you shared everything about you?
- When would you rather not be friends with someone but rather have a more formal relationship?
- When have you had a relationship with someone where you felt like not only friends? (Friend/teacher, friend/doctor, friend/pastor).
Hanging out with Jesus for a day:
If you had a chance to hang out with Jesus for a day, how would you spend that day together?Take some time and write out (in as much detail as you can or would like) how you would spend an ideal day with Jesus. There are no “wrong” answers. You can choose how you would spend time with your friend. Invite the individuals in the group to share their “Jesus Hang-out Time”.
God of eternal love, you sent your Son Jesus to be our teacher and our friend. Encourage us to see not only Jesus’ power and strength but also his love as a true friend. Teach us to love each other as Jesus has loved us. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our truest friend. Amen