The Father’s home with us

So that you may believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah the Son of God

Scripture Readings

  • Exodus 19:1-6
  • John 14:15-24


Dear friends in the Lord,

Let’s begin this morning with a wild statement, “I think religion is dangerous.”

The person who practices religion invariably finds himself somewhere on a road to find some place where he would be convinced, or at least try to convince himself, that he has a right to salvation.  God will allow him in heaven because of his achievements.  Religion is therefore a way upwards and towards God.  Religion thinks it can rest upon earned good works, for which God will reward the self-improved person with eternal life.

Religion can have many forms: self-infliction, self-denial and asceticism.  It might manifest itself in a monastic and pietistic lifestyle.  People may chose to go on extended hunger strikes, sitting on a pole, and even periods of absolute silence.  A very popular phrase in some self-help religious books is “to connect with God”.

Even very devout church people might find themselves in this category where regular attendance of worship services, contributing to the finances of the church, voluntary service to the aged and the poor are seen as a form to climb the ladder to God.  The Roman Church encourages this form of dedication, and after certain requirements are met of a certain standard, even long after the person has died, someone can be declared a saint, based on these works.

A person can be raised to sainthood and the first step is beatification, which allows a person to be honored by a particular group or region. In order to beatify a candidate, it must be shown that the person is responsible for a posthumous miracle. Martyrs – those who died for their religious cause – can be beatified without evidence of a miracle. In order for the candidate to be considered a saint, there must be proof of a second posthumous miracle. If there is, the person is canonised and are then know to be a saint.

Of this, of course, we find nothing in the Scriptures.

Gospel, on the other hand, is a way downwards from God towards man.  When God finds that man, he finds an individual who has nothing in his hand to impress Him or to win his favour.  In fact, God finds the sinner in a state of being an enemy of God, unable to rescue himself, and in desperate need of being saved.  Gospel is based on grace, having it’s origin in the mercy of God.  It does not require of man to improve himself, but provides the means to man whereby God makes it possible for man to see his terrible state before God so that he may know that he needs salvation, which is provided freely by God in Jesus Christ.

Grace in the Old Testament

There are people who think God’s people of the Old Testament had to comply to the Law of God and that grace was then given to them on account of their good deeds.  In this sense then people who think this way, say that they lived under the Law and we now live under grace.  This of course leaves us to understand that God had two ways of saving people: one by works, and the other by grace.

This is not true.  Our reading of Exodus 19 and 20 (the Ten Commandments) tells the story of God grace given to his people while they were still in bondage and slavery.

‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” (Exodus 19:4–6, NIV)

First there was God’s wondrous act of salvation through providing them with life when the Egyptians suffered the lost of their firstborn.  Then, time and time again, God provided mercifully and miraculously for them in the form of food, water, and deliverance from their enemies.  He indeed carried them on eagles’ wings and brought them to Himself.

This is stressed in Chapter 20:1  It is because God did what He did, Israel found themselves in a place where they could be called God’s people.  God did not give the Law first and then after some time rescued the few who could comply with that law.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Exodus 20:2, NIV)

Moses reminded the people of God’s redeeming love with these words:

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7:6–8, NIV)

Exodus 3:7 is one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible:

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land … (Exodus 3:7–8, NIV)

Although they were hard of heart and stubborn of spirit, the Lord kept his promise to Abraham be bringing them into the Promised Land.

That is what grace does.  It is God bowing down from heaven, being moved by the inability of man to rescue himself, and providing salvation when it was undeserved and impossible to repay.  This is the opposite of religion – it is Gospel.

Grace in the New Testament

Grace in the New Testament is nothing different.  The whole gist of the message of John in his gospel points to the fact that man was living in darkness, unable to know God, unable to see God, unable to recognise God; yet, God sent his Light, his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be the light, to open the spiritual eyes of the lost so that they can see salvation.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NIV)

God gave his Son- his Son accepted the mission of the Father wholeheartedly and freely He gave his life as the Good Shepherd.  He said:

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17–18, NIV)

Jesus declared in John 6:

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” (John 6:63, 65, NIV)

No-one can come to the Father unless He enables him.  He enables him based on his eternal love shown in Jesus Christ who took the sin of the world on Him.  Our Lord will never drive away anyone who comes to Him, becomes they come because the Father calls them (John 6:37).

Last week we heard from the Word that Jesus said to his disciples that they could not go where He was going to go – they could not because He was the only acceptable sacrifice, the perfect Passover Lamb, to satisfy the wrath of God upon sin.  He alone had to be crucified because He alone was sinless – He alone could atone.  In this sense then Jesus told his disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them.  His perfect atonement is the only basis for them to enter the Father’s home.  Only based on his perfect sacrifice can we now say that we can go where Jesus went – we do so by faith in Him who calls us, takes us as his own.  When, by faith, you know Jesus Christ as Saviour and Son of God – remember the theme of this series of sermons – my brother and sister, you have a room in heaven.  I say so because it is what Jesus said.

Your room there awaits you not because of your religion – things you have done to reach up towards God; your room in the Father’s house awaits you purely and only because you heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ that He came down from heaven to seek and save the lost.  As so were all of us before grace and mercy found us out.

God with us

Let’s turn the Bible to John 14:15 and following verses.  There is a phrase running through these verses like a golden thread, proclaiming the Gospel to us in all its glory.  You have to grasp this, as its message will carry you through all the dark days of doubt and uncertainty – those days when the devil would want to you think that you have to do more to deserve more grace until God will save you through your good deeds.

My dear friend in Christ, never give in to his musings, it is based on a lie.  You will never have peace with God if ever you do not grasp the glorious message of these verses.

What is that golden thread?  Look at verse 16.

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— (John 14:16, NIV)

Another advocate – because the first was Jesus Christ Himself.  What will He do?  He will help them and be with them, in the same way as Jesus did while He was with them. (His name is Immanuel – God with us).

Read verse 17:

The world cannot accept him [ the Spirit], because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for He lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:17, NIV)

Do you get it?  He lives with you and will be with you.  This is Gospel:  God with us; religion wants to achieve some else – it wants to be with God; and it cannot.

Verse 18:

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:18, NIV)

Jesus says, He will come to us.  This promise is fulfilled in the Holy Spirit, but it will be completely fulfilled when He comes to takes us to the Father’s house.  In verse 19 He says, “Because I live, you also will live.

Then, almost in an abundance of words, Jesus wants us to understand that we, by the grace of God shown to us in Him, and by faith which unite us with Him eternally, cannot be separated from Him:

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:20, NIV)

“On that day”, which day?  Of course it ultimately points to the return of our Lord, but they will know this for sure on that Sunday morning when He rose victoriously from the dead.  When you see the risen Saviour you will know that He completed the mission of the Father to save the lost, to open the eyes of the spiritually blind, to give them new birth through the Holy Spirit so that they can see the Kingdom of God, that they were drawn to the Father, that He would not drive them away – all those things He had taught them – and He is teaching us a the moment – they and we realise by faith that God has send his Son to seek and save the lost, we realise He united us with Him so that His accomplished work before the Father becomes as good as if they were our accomplished work; we believe that He is from the Father, with the Father and God with the Father.

When this happens, eternity breaks open.  I understand Gospel, and I understand that I cannot seek God in order to be saved; but I understand that God sought me to save me; He provided a Saviour for me; and He binds me to Him through the cross and resurrection of the Saviour through the ministry and work of the Holy Spirit – and now I cry our in eternal thankfulness, “Thank you Lord Jesus, thank you Father, thank you Holy Spirit!”

Let’s read another verse to find the golden thread. Verse 23:

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:23, NIV)

We will come and make our home with them.  The Spirit is our Comforter (our Counsellor) – He continues the work of salvation by applying the grace of Christ to our hearts, now born from above; He teaches us about Christ, He is with us.  He prompts us to love Christ, by helping us to understand and obey the commands of the Lord.  Jesus said of the Holy Spirit:

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26, NIV)

The Spirit reminds us of the things Jesus said and did to satisfy the wrath of God on sin; He also changes our hearts to accept that message, because:

The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:17, NIV)

Because Jesus was from the Father, his words were from the Father.  The Father loves Him because He loves the Father.  We know we love Him if we love doing what He commands us.  If we love doing what He commands us, the Father and the Son will make their home with us. If we not not love Him and obey Him, our only Saviour who saved us by grace, the Father and the son do not live with us – we are on our own, lost – and there is no other way to the Father. Jesus said:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6, NIV)

The golden thread again:

“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (John 14:28, NIV)

“I am coming back to you.”  Listen, there is nothing of trying your hardest to get to where He is.  It is not religion; it is Gospel.

In some instances, I believe, the expression “if you loved Me”, that “if you” has the meaning of “loving me”, or “now that you love Me”. It is not conditional as if we first have to love Him and then after that we can expect certain things from Him.  The same is found in verse 15, “Now that you love Me, you will obey what I command.”  If doing his command was conditional on our love for Him or not, grace would not be possible.  Or at least it should be understood in the sense that we will obey his command because we love Him – and He loved us first.  What it does mean it that saying we love Him and we hate what He commands us is impossible.  The two things go together.


I thank God that He does not require of my some sort of religion – trying to seek Him until He makes Himself available to me after I have done a series of things to earn salvation.

But I earnestly thank him that He in Christ came to me; by the Sprit live in me, and with the Father live in me.  That is good enough to fill my heart with thankfulness to love Him and obey Him.  To Him be the glory.  Amen.

Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 23 June 2013




Interview with Henry Luke Orombi

“We in Africa and in Uganda in particular look to the West for the gospel because they brought the gospel to us. And when the gospel was opened to us, we looked at what God is saying to us through the Scriptures. We embraced it, we loved it, we proclaimed it. Eventually the West began to put aside the Bible. They picked up human wisdom and understanding.”

Let us be challenged to remain faithful to the Scriptures of our Lord.



The way into the Father’s home

So that you may believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah the Son of God

Scripture Readings

  • Deuteronomy 18:14-22
  • John 14:5-14

Most of us have had the experience where a loved one was about to be pushed into an operation theater in hospital.  For the best part of it, those circumstances are not something we want to remember.

I will never for get the draining tubes, monitor cables stuck with sticky bandaid all over my father’s face and chest as he was lying – almost helplessly, speechlessly, and even with an expression of calling for help in his eyes.  His hair was a bit messy, and there was a few day’s growth on his chin. The breathing was heavy; and I could not really detect much warmth or grip in his hands.

They then took him away.  He had to face what was ahead of him on his own.

I wanted to help; all of us wanted to help.  One feels powerless in the face of that moment in life when the person on the sick bed has to battle it out on their own.  Surely, one can be there, but there is a point where you realise you cannot do more.

When Jesus told his disciples that where He was going they could not go, the situation was infinitely more intense.  It was the Son of God who came into the world to seek and save sinners.  They could not go with Him because they were part of the problem; He was the solution.

We cannot go where Jesus went

Jesus prepared his disciples that He would not be able to stay with them.  Back in John 7 He said:

“I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” (John 7:33–34, NIV)

Then Jesus told them,

“You are going to have the light just a little while longer. (John 12:35, NIV)

And now,

“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. (John 13:33, NIV)

Christ had to complete the mission of the Father

What our Lord was referring to was complete the mission his Father had sent Him do complete.  The disciples did not understand this at that point in time.  When Christ was on his way to Jerusalem for the last time, before He resurrected Lazarus from the dead, Thomas said:

Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16, NIV)

Matthew and Mark recorded a very interesting episode, just before Jesus entered Jerusalem where He would be crucified.  James and John’s mother approached Jesus.  She knelt before Him to ask Him a favour.  Jesus listened to her request that He would grant that one her sons would sit at his right hand and the other on the left in his Kingdom.  The next event in the live of our Lord was his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  One can only think that the Apostles of Jesus and his other disciples, including the mother of James and John, understood that something very special is going to happen.  What was the answer of our Lord on this request:

“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. (Matthew 20:22, NIV)

Their reply to this rhetorical question of Jesus was, “We can!”  Jesus then said, “You will indeed drink from my cup”, but the understanding is that they could not do it before He did.  Of course they did not understand the full consequence of what they were asking.

Peter in John 13, the very night before Jesus was arrested and crucified:

“Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” (John 13:36, NIV)

Peter had no idea of the consequence of Jesus’s words, so he replied:

“Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” (John 13:37, NIV)

To this our Lord replied:

“Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! (John 13:38, NIV)

Peter, you won’t even may it through the night before you will disown the Lord; not once, but three times.

And within 24 hours, our Lord was hanging on the cross. That very night, only a few hours since Jesus spoke reaffirmed to his disciples that He is going to leave them, the Bible tells us this sad state of events:

But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. (Matthew 26:56, NIV)

Alone Jesus stood before Pilate, alone He was mocked by the soldiers, when He carried his cross through the streets of Jerusalem to Calvary’s Hill, there was not sight of his disciples.  When He was crucified, we read his disciples were at a distance.

We cannot go where Jesus went: our sins prevent us

The story of Thomas who did not fully understand why Jesus had to die, the story of Peter who was willing to lay down his life and later denied Jesus, and the story of the disciples who were only at a distance when He completed the mission of the Father, might sound strange and sad; it however brings us before one great and unfathomable biblical truth:  they and we we couldn’t go where Jesus went.

The road Jesus Christ went

The Scriptures fulfilled

In a very strange but satisfying way I look and find Jesus alone between Gethsemane and the cross.  In Him being there alone I see the Scriptures fulfilled.  No one could accompany Him – at least, no human being.  In his seeking and searching to save lost, He took on the nature of those who were lost, yet without sin.  And to save them, He needed to become like them to save them, but He did not sin.

When Adam and Eve sinned in Paradise they hid from God.  What had been friendly to them before that dreadful day, then became opposition and enemy: the garden would have thorns and thistles, they themselves had to cover themselves out of shame, and the Lord in his holiness drove them from the Garden. If ever there were two lonely people on the face of this planet, it would be Adam and Eve.  Not only physically were they lonely, but spiritually they must have felt deserted, filled with guilt and the pain of not beholding God and experience his presence like they knew it in the Garden.

Sin severed us from God, it plunged God’s creation, over which He appointed us guardians and rulers, in chaos; we became one another’s enemy.  Just the next chapter in Genesis records the fact that Cain killed his one and only brother.  He then became the epitome of loneliness.  God cursed Cain with these words:

When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” (Genesis 4:12, NIV)

But God did not kill Cain.  For the likes of Cain there would be born someone like themselves, yet without sin, to rescue them from sin.  There was no way they could do it for themselves.

The Israelites were in bondage in Egypt.  They felt the burden of sin upon them each day as the whips of the Egyptians lashed upon their backs, and they lost their sons under the command of the Pharaoh.  But there was nothing they could do about it. Then there is this staggering verse in the Bible: It is God speaking about his people in slavery:

I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land… (Exodus 3:7–8, NIV)

The blood of the Passover Lamb

But before that would happen, they had to hide under the blood of the Passover lamb.  And now, thousands of years, and hundreds of thousands of Passover lambs later, God fulfilled his promises in one Lamb, the Son of God.

He is the only one who could take the punishment of the world upon Him, because He was from God, born of God to live among us, the Lamb designated by God to take away the sins of the world.

I thank God that He did not expect anything from me to add to the salvation of Christ.  Forever we need to thank Him that He alone stood before Pilate, Herod, the Jewish Council, and yes indeed before the holy God, his Father, in our place to redeem us from the slimy pit.

Forsaken by the Father

We cannot go where Jesus went. Where Jesus went was to not only find the sinner in this loneliness before God, but to pay the price for his loneliness.  And in doing so, only a few hours later, He would cry out with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me!”  No other Saviour could do such a thing.  There is no other Saviour, no other Lamb of God who would take away thine sins of the world.  He alone could; He alone did.

That’s probably why Jesus comforted his disciples before all to this happened:

“Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” (John 13:36, NIV)

And then:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? (John 14:1–2, NIV)

The death of our Lord opens the door to the Father

I believe there are two ways to understand the words of Jesus here.  To believe in God and the believe in the One He sent, is to understand that the death and resurrection of Jesus would open the door to the house of the Father.  In other words, in time, the words of our Lord had its fulfillment when He died the next day by taking the sons of the world upon Him.  To the criminal who also died on another cross that same day, our Lord said:

“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43, NIV)

When He rose on the third day his mission to atone for the sins of many was fulfilled. Sin was dealt with, and our relationship with God was restored.  Paul understood this very well:

For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:9–11, NIV)

We now can indeed go where Jesus went

When He returns He will take us to the Father’s home.

In time something else will happen: Jesus, now at the right hand of the Father, is preparing a room for us in the house of his Father.  When that room is prepared and the fulness of time has come, our Lord will appear on the clouds, the trumpet of the Lord will blow, the graves will be opened and those who are still alive will be changed in the wink of an eye.  Our Lord will come to take us to where He is now.  Listen to the Word:

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:3, NIV)

Jesus said to them:

You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:4–5, NIV)

The place where Jesus is going is to his Father – the same place where Jesus was from.  Remember, John’s purpose with his Gospel was that we would know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing in Him we would have eternal life.  Therefor Jesus answered Thomas when he said they don’t know where He was going:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6–7, NIV)

Show us the Father

Although Jesus is the only redeemer and saviour of the world, and although He declared we cant go where He went, it is also true that by believing in what He did in our stead means that we can indeed go where Jesus went.

How does that happen?  Thomas and Philip had a problem with this concept:  Where is heaven, where is God, what does the Father look like?  Jesus answered them:

If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.” (John 14:7, NIV)

Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. (John 14:10, NIV)

To see God the Father is to believe in the One He sent.  To understand something about God, is to believe the One He sent.  To know God, is the know the One He sent.  There is not other way to heaven.

Christ is the way to the Father

He is the way.  He alone opened the way – good works do not open the way: Christ is the way.  Without Him there is no way; without Him there is no seeing of the Father; without Him there is no knowing the Father; without Him there is no room in heaven.

This “seeing” and “knowing” in John is understood to be the consequence of God’s miraculous act of salvation through Christ accompanied the live giving work of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore not only will we one day, at the return of Christ, see and know God, but by faith we may see his Kingdom now, by faith we may know Him now, and by faith we worship Him as Father now.   Truely, if we do no know Him as the way to the Father now, see his Kingdom now and worship Him as Lord and King Him now, doing it then will be impossible.  Don’t let the devil trick you into his trap to think that somehow you will understand to know Him then if you do not bow before Him now.


Bothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ,

There is a way to heaven, there is a way to know the Father, there is a way to see the Kingdom of God.  More precisely, there is only one way: Jesus Christ.

The implication of this truth is that we need to understand that our own efforts will not get us there; further, the those who claim there is all manners of getting saved, stand on no solid rock: Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Him.

But this truth also means that we cannot be silent about the only way to get to heaven: there are millions out there, and hundreds in our town, who have not heard about Him – without faith in Him they will die an everlasting death.  We need to tell them; it is our job – and what a wonderful calling that is!

Sermon preached by Rev. D. Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 16 June 2013

Conquering, binding love

So that you may believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah the Son of God

Scripture Readings

  • 1 John 3:10-24
  • John 13:33-38


On 6 June 1944, members of the 2nd Ranger Battalion under Cptain Miller fought ashore to secure a beachhead. Amidst the fighting, two brothers are killed in action. Earlier in New Guinea, a third brother is killed in action. Their mother was to receive all three of the grave telegrams on the same day.

The United States Army Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall, was given an opportunity to alleviate some of her grief when he learned of a fourth brother, also conscripted and in active combat on another front and decided to send out 8 men to find him and bring him back home to his mother before something would happen to him.

The unit, under the direction of Captain John Miller set out to save the young man and see that he returned home alive.  Most of the men in this unit paid the highest price in their quest to save them.  Captain John Miller was mortally wounded, with the young man his unit had been sent to find at his side while he was dying.   A small squadron of P-51 Mustang fighters suddenly appeared on the horizon and the young soldier said to Captain Miller that the tanks were tank busters, upon which Miller referred to the planes as “angels on our shoulders”. He beckons the soldier closer and with his dying breath, tells him “Earn this… earn it.”

Years later, now as an elderly man, that soldier walked down the rows of graves in a cemetery, which are mostly marble crosses. He is accompanied by his wife, his daughter and her husband, and three teenage granddaughters. He searched the crosses and stopped at a specific one, where he fell to his knees, crying. His family walked up behind him and tried to comfort him. Almost impossible to hear he uttered the wish that he had lived up to Miller’s wish and had been worthy of all that Miller and his men had done for him. He asked his wife to tell him that he’s led a good life and that he’s been a good man. He salutes Miller’s grave.

This, of course is the story of Private James Francis Ryan, the story behind the award-winning movie Saving Private Ryan.

Our theme for this sermon today is “Conquering, binding love”.  Keep the story of Private Ryan in your minds.

Our Lord Jesus Christ was with his disciples in the Upper Room.  He had finished his public ministry, the door was shut to the world.  He knew the hour had come for Him to go back to the Father.  In less than 24 hours He would be crucified.  His heart was troubled, yet He was at piece knowing that He was doing the will of the Father.  He washed the feet of his disciples and taught them to follow his example.  He exposed the one who would betray Him.  He told his disciples that He is leaving them and that they would not be able to follow Him.  Those who would hand Him over were almost on the doorstep.  Surely his disciples were not fully aware of what was to come.

My children

Our Lord looked at his disciples and explained very clearly to them:

“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. (John 13:33, NIV)

Using the expression “My children” so much of what He taught them, as we read about it through the Gospel of John shines like a very bright light upon them.  Remember how He explained to them in Chapter 1 that:

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:11–13, NIV)

In Chapter 3 He taught:

“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ (John 3:5,7, NIV)

In John 6:37 He said:

All those the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” (John 6:37, 63–65, NIV)

In John 10 He declared:

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:11, 18, NIV)

About Himself Jesus said:

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (John 11:25–26, NIV)

The clock had been ticking since Jesus said to them:

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. (John 12:27, NIV)

This hour has now come.  The clouds were very dark on the horizon; the storm about to break lose.

“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. (John 13:33, NIV)

So, when Jesus called them “My children” he confirmed to them that God had claimed their live from all eternity to by his; He made it possible for them to be born not of a man, but of God; He gave them the life from above through the Spirit to be able to see the Kingdom of God.  They were fed on the Bread of Life; they came to the Lord because the Father had drawn them, and He did not drive them away; by the grace of God they were enabled to hear his voice as the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep; by Gods’ eternal plan they were enabled to believe in Him as the resurrection and the life;  He washed them clean from their sin as He humbled and emptied Himself to became like a slave washing their feet; they were given part in Him – all of this was of God’s doing who made them his children though Jesus Christ his appointed Saviour.  He is their Father, and they were able to walk in the light and hear the words of God who sent Him.

My children.” God is our Father.  There is no better title here on earth.  The God of the universe bowed down in his Son Jesus Christ, and by the mighty work of his Holy Spirit made which was born of dust, born in sin, unworthy of grace and salvation, children of God.  Yes, He gave them who believe in his Son the right to be called children of God.  My friend, be sure to understand this: it is not the size of your farm, or the size of your bank account, or your status in society, or your wise words, or your intellect, or any other form of status that defines you as Christian.  It is the grace of God in Jesus Christ which makes you a child of God.  That is your title; that is your purpose in life, and that is your destination in life.  It is therefore the most important thing that can be said of you, “He/she is a Christian!”  This fact defines who we are.  It is marvellous, unfathomable and profound.  David says in Psalm 40:

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. (Psalm 40:2–3, NIV)

Paul says in Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, NIV)

He does not say that he has crucified himself with Christ; no, the voice is passive, “I have been crucified.”  It is the work of Christ – when He died there, by faith, I died too.  Paul says in another place:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: (2 Corinthians 5:17–18, NIV)

My dear friend, make much of this: if you know Christ as your Saviour, you are his child.  Thank God for it in the morning when you rise to a new day; tell the Devil that he has no right on your life; use your skills and talents to God’s glory every moment of every day; rejoice that you have been saved from eternal destruction; hang this title with pride around your neck, and never, never be ashamed of Christ.

Loving God’s family

It was in the dark hour of the night before Jesus was betrayed and killed that he commanded his disciples:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34, NIV)

Much is said about Christian love these days.  In an age of not constant and absolute truths and values, love is equalled to tolerance.  Misquoting the words of our Lord to not judge one another, love nowadays means tolerate one another at whatever cost.  It is not what Jesus taught, and it is not what the Spirit of God instructed Paul to write down when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 13, the chapter of love:

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (1 Corinthians 13:6, NIV)

The words of our Lord in John 13 which He gave as a new command, namely “to love one anther as I have loved you” has nothing to do with a sentimental, emotional or misty-eyed love where we, at best, try to live with one another, or bear with one another.

I deliberately told the story of Private James Francis Ryan in the beginning to bring home something about what Jesus was talking about.  Remember, the enemy was at the door.  Over and over Jesus had told his disciples that He would be handed over in the hands of sinners to be killed.  That hour has now come.

For the disciples to follow Jesus meant to be exposed to the forces of darkness which would have but one goal and that is to destroy them.  Listen to the words of the Lord later that same night:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 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. 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. (John 15:18–20, NIV)

Right in beginning when He called them as his disciples, there on the mountain when He delivered his first sermon, He said:

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11–12, NIV)

Jesus talked to and instructed his disciples here.  Listen to the these verses:

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them. (Matthew 5:1–2, NIV)

Now what Jesus was talking about then right there in the beginning when they began to follow Him, was about to happen.  The world would hate them as they hated Jesus; they would have to pay a price for being his disciples and being called his children: the world is hostile, filled with hate.  But they, on the other hand, would need to stand together, look after one another, love one another as Jesus loved them.  That is the recipe for survival.

As disciples they would need to set aside their differences, they would need to set aside any hint of lording it over one another; their lives would be known by their care for one another.

Furthermore, whereas they had been identified to be disciples by following Him around where He walked in Galilee and Judah, He would leave them.  They would not be able to be identified by his physical presence; they would be identified by their love for one another which was supposed to be of the same value and perseverance as the love Jesus had for them.

What a high calling!  The world would know the church of Jesus by the quality of their caring love for one another.  They way they care for one another, have concern for one another by being willing to put their live on the line for one another and in the same time sacrificing their own desires – almost like the soldiers who gave their life to save their fellow soldier in the story of private Ryan, will put them aside from the rest of the world.  This love which is not from this world but which is born from the heart of God has no equal on earth and imitates the love of Christ which He displayed from his disciples.

How do we love?  It is easy to say we love, and by that we mean that we can more or less get along as we bear with one another.  Of course our love is not really known to this world unless we experience the heat of the battle against the forces of darkness.  This to me, says that we cannot not really express our love for one another before what it means to really love the Lord Jesus – and as such, become a spectacle in this world.  When we understand the hurt of rejection, if we understand the pain of suffering for His Name, we will probably begin to understand that we need a fellow brother’s love top uphold us; and only then will we understand what it means to love the other brother who is going through the tough times of persecution.

John had heard Jesus say that Judas was the one — the betrayer. At that moment he must have been so confused in his mind.

The term “little children” is only used by John, and we find it again repeated in his letter.  If we also understand that the term “New Commandment” is only used by John here and in his apostolic letter, we will understand what John understood about the love Christ had in mind when He commanded them that night to love one another.

To be a disciple is not just to be outwardly aligned with a Christian church or a Christian movement or a Christian name, but miraculously changed by the Spirit into a person with a new heart of love for the Father and for Jesus and for his followers. And love is how you can know this has happened.

  • Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)
  • We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. (1 John 3:14)
  • By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10)
  • Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)

Listen to 1 John 3:23

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. (1 John 3:23, NIV)

Listen carefully, one commandment:  to believe in Jesus Christ is followed by love for one another.  If you declare yourself openly to be a disciple of Jesus — your Saviour, your Lord, your Treasure — then your love for others will be decisive in showing that you are real.

Jesus says this a new commandment, but in fact it is not really new.  What makes is new is the fact that never before had the Son of God come into the world and laid down his life for his people.  This degree of greatness making this degree of sacrifice, had never happened. This is new.

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. (1 John 2:9–10, NIV)

The reason the love we have for each other shows that we are truly Jesus’ disciples, is that it is only possible because we are grafted into the life and love of Christ. We love as he loved, because we love with his love.


Our love in Christ we have for one another is not a love which try to copy the love of Christ.  It follows from a life which is in Him; as we walk in the light we love one another; as we walk in the light we find brothers and sisters in the light, fellow believers who also found the love of Christ and are now abiding in Him.

The context in which Jesus gave the new command to his disciples, was that on conflict.  In this conflict Christians will and should be known by their sacrificial love they will display for one another.  We do not have any physical conflict yet in Australia; so, let’s in the meantime practice to be good soldiers for when such a time arrives.  You surely have a brother and sister in Christ who has to go through some battle at the moment.  Go, stand by him or her.  Tell and show that your love for Christ determines and defines your love for him or her.  They are your family in Christ.


Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 9 June 2013


The battle lines drawn: God is glorified

That you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God

Scripture Readings

  • Psalm 41
  • John 13:18-32


I remember vividly the warning of one of my professors, “Be on your guard”, he said, “every heresy in the history of the church started in the study of a manse.”

I will not forget his warning.  The number one enemy of the church does not linger on the fringes; he resides within.  Those one the outside might see the weaknesses and pounce on the church like a prowling lion.  For this reason I believe that the anti-Christ, as an agent of the devil, will most probably occupy a pulpit at first; his master will use him and after that the world will do what it can’t destroy the church of our Lord Jesus Christ.  They will have no ultimate success, because our Father is stronger than them all and will not allow one of his elect to be snatched out of his hand.The very thought of having the enemy within is a scary thought.  Let us therefore search our hearts before God – lest He exposes us, not as friends, but as enemy.

David – the Messianic King in distress

There was more than one instance in the life of king David that he found himself is deep distress.  There was sickness, there was personal loss and there was tumult in this kingdom.  He trusted his friends to help him; instead, they conspired against him.  He writes about it in Psalm 31:

Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors and an object of dread to my closest friends— those who see me on the street flee from me. I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. (Psalm 31:11–12, NIV)

In Psalm 55 he writes:

If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers. (Psalm 55:12–14, NIV)

My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His talk is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords. (Psalm 55:20–21, NIV)

In Psalm 41:

Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me. (Psalm 41:9, NIV)

Our Lord knew what this meant.  If David, the messianic king, understood deceit, Christ understood it even better; He knew his betrayer all along, He walked with him, talked with him, trusted him, ate with him.
So it was one the night, the last night before He was betrayed, arrested, sentenced and crucified when our Lord and his disciples were gathered in the Upper Room for the Passover meal.  As it was custom then, all reclined at the table, leaning on their left elbows to have the right hand free to take the food.  Jesus had washed the feet of all his disciples, including the feet of Judas.   Commentators agree that John was on the right side of Jesus, and Judas at the left side of Jesus.  That seat of Judas was according to custom held for an honoured guest.  Peter was not on the side of our Lord.

There was no hatred in the heart of our Lord against Judas.  He still considered him as a friend.  God’s eternal plan and human interpretation of that plan hear becomes difficult – we just do not know how all of this could culminate, and come to a head.  One thing we know, it was God’s eternal plan of redemption being worked out in his one and only Son, and Judas, know as the son of perdition.

In the previous paragraph Jesus taught his church to be servants of one another.  After He had washed their feet, he said:

Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:17, NIV)

He then added:

“I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’ (John 13:18, NIV)

This is the verse David wrote in Psalm 41.  The Messiah, the Son of God, knew the anguish in his heart about a friend who would betray Him.  Jesus knew that the devil had already prompted Judas to be tray Him (13:2), and Jesus had already announced that one of the Twelve was not clean (13:11).

The battle lines are drawn; the hour has come

Jesus knew that his hour had come:

Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. (John 13:1, NIV)

Judas knew that he was possessed by the evil one to betray Jesus – his hour has come.  But he would not have the privilege to fire the first shot; he would be prompted by Jesus, and exposed by the Messiah.  What Judas wanted to do had to be exposed; at least John knew about it, and he would later tell the others.

Although Jesus told them by quoting Psalm 41 that his enemy has lifted the heel against Him, they probably did not fathom the possibility that it might be one of them.  They shared all the wonderful things together with three years with Jesus; surely it could not be one of them.

The Bible says Jesus was troubled in spirit and then made it very clear to them:

“Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” (John 13:21, NIV)

Every time the Bible records that Jesus was troubled in spirit, it does so in close connection with the mission of the Lord, and more so Him facing death.

At the tomb of Lazarus our Lord was troubled:

When Jesus saw her [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. (John 11:33, NIV)

In John 12, after Jesus told the parable of the wheat kernel that has to fall in the ground and die He said:

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. (John 12:27, NIV)

Death to Him was something to be troubled about because He, the sinless, would take the sin of the world upon Him to free them from the punishment of sin; He would also experience the full punishment of God on sin; and more than that, He who is from all eternity God, nailed to the cross as sinful human being would experience that his Father has forsaken Him.

He is troubled, also, because a friend, the one just next to him in the position of honour at the table, always trusted with the financial affairs of the circle of apostles, would now exposed as the one in service of the serpent would bite him in the heel.

The Commander-in-Chief exposes this enemy

The Bible records the words of the Lord before Judas would have the privilege of betraying Jesus:

I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. (John 13:19, NIV)

Just a few moments ago, after He had washed their feet, the disciples called Him Lord and Teacher.  Jesus then said:

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. (John 13:13, NIV)

At that stage they probably did not fully understood what He meant, especially the “I am”.  But now, in verse 19 the words of our Lord are much clearer, ”I am who I am”, “I am He”.  Jesus is prophesying that one of the Twelve would betray Him, and right through the Scriptures prophecy was given to proof that God is God. As the prophets gave the words of God to the people, and what they foretold was true so that they believe in God, so our Lord here does the same: he gave them the prophecy about who is going to betray them, so that they would know He is God.

Jesus uses the same title that God used when Moses asked what he should answer the Israelites if they asked about the name of God, “I am”.  Hebrew JHWH.  What John was proclaiming about Jesus in chapter 1 now comes from the mouth of our Lord Himself: He was with God, and He is God.

Remember the overarching theme of our series of sermons?  “That you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you might have eternal life.”  Only He can give life: He is God.  Only He can forgive sins: He is God. Only He can expose the enemy: He is God. Only He can be trusted: He is God.

By what follows, He drills this in to his disciples – and all of this happens in the hearing of Judas!  Jesus said:

Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.” (John 13:20, NIV)

Jesus wants his disciples to know that they would be sent out into this world with the authority of God.  If ever they and their message were to be rejected by anyone, they would not need to worry about it – it is God’s business.  Similarly, if there message would be accepted, it would not be because they were smart and successful – it would only be because what Jesus taught them in John 6 happens:  the Father enabled them to hear, and the Father is drawing them to Christ.

Judas heard all off this. If there was anything of faith in him, he would have understood that opposing the Son of God is futile: having Jesus betrayed to the Jewish leaders is to have the plan of God kicking into action.  Judas did not accept Christ as God, and therefore he rejected God as Father.

The Commander-in-Chief exposed the enemy.  “One of you is going to betray Me.

The devil caught out

Only the fool says in his heart there is no God.  Judas was a useful idiot.  Satan entered him.  But he had to be exposed.

Peter heard the words of Jesus, and was quite naturally curious and upset.  Up to this point, the Bible says, the disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them Jesus meant. Peter prompted Jesus to ask which one He means would do such a thing.

I can just imagine the suspense at the table. (Actually, some commentators think that there was more than one table, thinking that there could have been four tables.  This means that all them were not in the position to hear the response of the Lord when John asked Him who it was.)

John was close to the Lord, almost with his ear at the chest of Jesus as both of them leaned on their right elbow.  Judas could have overheard, but he would not haven in any uncertainty – in his chest his heart bounced, knowing that he could be exposed.

Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. (John 13:26, NIV)

Our Lord dipped that piece of bread and gave it to Judas. Was there a last chance for him to repent?  I can only stand back and leave that answer to God; one day it will be revealed to us. Satan entered into Judas.
So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” (John 13:27, NIV)

I think we can paraphrase the words of our Lord this way: Judas, you have crossed the battle line; you’ve reached the point of no return. Now, don’t hesitate, waste no time to do what you about to do.  My hour has come; so has yours.  My Father’s hour has come; Satan, your father’s hour has come.

Everything aspect in the history of mankind and Israel as God’s people pointed to this moment.  It was Jesus and Judas; it was God and Satan.

Judas took the bread and he went out. It is possible that Judas was still there.  Luke records these words:

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of Him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. (Luke 22:20–21, NIV)

For Judas the words of our Lord is now true:

There is a judge for the one who rejects Me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. (John 12:48, NIV)

Little wonder then that Paul writes, as we will hear at the table of the Lord:

Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. (1 Corinthians 11:28–29, NIV)

The battle already decided

If ever there was a loaded verse recorded in the Scripture, it would be John 13:30

As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. (John 13:30, NIV)

Judas found himself there where John started his Gospel: a world in darkness without the Son of God.  He did see the light, but the darkness in him had not attraction for the light; he chose darkness – and death.
But in that moment of darkness, the greatness of the Gospel of Christ shone at its brightest:

When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is 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.” (John 13:31–32, NIV)

John wrote about this moment that would reveal more explicitly what Jesus said and did in all of his ministry:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, NIV)

John Piper writes:

“And the brightest display of this glory — the glory of this grace — was in the darkest hour of the gospel when Jesus died. When he was doing what no one else could do — dispelling darkness, abolishing death, disarming Satan, paying for sin, completing righteousness, absorbing wrath, removing condemnation. This was his most glorious achievement. In one sense, his brightest moment is the darkest night.”

James Montgomery-Boice writes:

“… the crucifixion is undoubtedly the central and most significant point of world history. Nothing that has happened in the world’s history from the beginning of creation until now, or will ever happen before that day when all things will be wrapped up in Christ, is as significant as the crucifixion. Here that great drama, which God had planned from before the foundation of the world, was brought to its focal point and acted out. Men of all races, social status, and levels of understanding have been saved by it.”

The glory of Christ and his Father is now at display as Jesus would reverse the curse of Adam’s sin to become the only justification for sinners.  The glory of Christ is also to break the power of Satan.  Hebrews 2:14 says:

Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by his death He might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14–15, NIV)

When Jesus pronounced this enormous truth about his and his Father’s glorification He added: “God will glorify the Son in Himself, and will glorify Him at once.”  At once:  without delay, nothing will come in between.  Not Judas, not Pilate, not the Jewish Council, not the bloodthirsty crown, not the cross – yes, not Satan.  In fact, Satan would become God’s instrument to glorify his Son and Himself.


These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31, NIV)

My dear brother and sister, this is what we believe when we take the bread and drink of the cup:  Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; in Him we have eternal life.

Those who do not believe this cannot and may not take the cup of the Lord; it is to drink and eat condemnation upon oneself.


Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 2 June 2013