Whitsunday Morning Prayer (23 May 2021) John 14:15
After the Resurrected Jesus ascended to heaven on the fortieth day, He poured the Holy Spirit on the fiftieth day. We celebrate this day as Whit Sunday which is the seventh Sunday after Resurrection Sunday. In today’s gospel reading John chapter14, verse 15 we read, “If ye love me, keep my commandments”. I have two questions based on this verse:
1. What commandments did Jesus give us?
Following Anglican faith and principles, we read the ten commandments at church before celebrating the Holy Communion. We also know that Jesus consolidated the ten commandments to two prime commandments. He consolidated the first four to ‘love your God’ and the next six to ‘love your neighbour’. When He gave these two commandments, He reaffirmed the need to follow the ten commandments.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us the Beatitudes. He also said “except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven”. If we read Matthew chapter 5, from verse 21, we can read that He gave commandments more stringent than the Old Testament commandments.
2. What commandments did Jesus keep?
Matthew 5:17 Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil”. He said this after giving us the Beatitudes and calling us to be salt and light in this world. While saying this He also told us about the persecution we have to face for His sake.
When we look at Jesus’s life, we know He was circumcised on the eighth day and named as Jesus according to the law and commandments given through Moses. He was baptised in the river Jordan by John the Baptist. He also received the Holy Spirit anointment after His baptism from the Almighty Father. Elsewhere in the Bible, we read Jesus paid His tax. He also said “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.”
Jesus gave us two commandments, the Beatitudes and laws more stringent than the Old Testament laws. He obeyed the laws and commandments given through Moses. But when St. Paul wrote to the Romans, he said in chapter 10 verse 4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth”. Based on this verse, many theologians say that the Old Testament laws and commandments are for the Old Testament people. Jesus’ preaching in the Gospel was for the people who lived during Jesus’ time. And because we are under grace, we do not have to follow the commandments and laws and they are not applicable to us. We must understand why Paul said this to have clarity on Jesus’s expectation and why He gave us the Holy Spirit.
- In Exodus 29:36 God the Almighty Father commanded the Israelites to offer a bullock for a sin offering for atonement every day.”. God the Almighty Father also commanded Aaron to “make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the LORD”. We read this in Exodus 30:10. If the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, the congregation had to offer a young bullock for the sin and bring him before the tabernacle of the congregation. When the priest made an atonement for the people, the sins shall be forgiven them. People offered sacrifices of bullock, a kid of goats or a female without blemish based on the sins that they committed. The chief priest also made offering of atonement. To break this continuous cycle, Jesus offered Himself as the Passover Lamb to be sacrificed for all of our sins. Hebrews 9:22 says, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission”. When Jesus gave Himself as the sacrifice, He abolished the need to offer sacrifices for the forgiveness and atonement of sins. Now we are not required to offer sacrifices on the altar because Jesus gave Himself as the one time sacrifice. When we are cleansed with the blood of Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven.
- Circumcision was one of the important laws and commandments given to Abraham and his descendants. All the people from Abraham’s tribe were circumcised. Abraham and his Son Ishmael were circumcised on the same day. Jesus was circumcised on the eight day. Today we are called to rend our hearts and turn unto the Lord your God. Jesus who suffered and died on the cross expects the circumcision in our heart. We are to be circumcised with the circumcision not made of human hands.
In our Gospel reading today, Jesus asked us to follow His commandments if we really love Him. He said “if a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him”. If we love God, we will keep His commandments. We cannot say we love God without following the word of God.
Jesus consolidated the ten prime commandments to two prime commandments. He gave us the Beatitudes. The commandments that Jesus gave are more stringent than the Old Testament commandments. He called us to follow these commandments and be light and salt in this world. He called us to be His witnesses and promises. We are to be cleansed with the Blood of the Lamb of God. We are to circumcise or rend our hearts, repent and turn to God. When David rent His heart, he prayed in Psalm 51:10 and 11 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.”
We are to live our lives following Jesus’s teachings. Paul’s letters are addendum to Jesus’s teachings. They are not the foundation of our Christian lives.
- When Jesus started His ministry, He said “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. We must repent and follow the commandments He has given through the Beatitudes and other commandments.
- Jesus preached about the kingdom of God and fulfilled His Father’s vision and mission in this world. Jesus’ preaching transformed many people and the people in darkness saw a great light through Jesus. We are to be the salt and light in this world and live our lives as His witnesses.
- When Jesus was baptised, He received the Holy Spirit. He breathed on His disciples and told them to receive the Holy Spirit. In John 14:16 Jesus said, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever”. The Holy Spirit was also poured on the disciples on the day of Pentecost. We who are His disciples will receive the Holy Spirit when we pray to the Almighty Father.
- We need the Holy Spirit to guide us in the path of righteousness and lead us to eternal life. John 16:8 says, “when he (the Holy spirit) is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment”. Isaiah 30:21 says “thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” We need the Holy Spirit to convict and reprove us every day and align our walk to God’s laws and commandments. The Holy Spirit will prepare and preserve us for the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus Christ came and sacrificed Himself as the Passover Lamb to bring an end to the continuous cycle of sin and offering sacrifices. When we believe that He can save us from eternal death, repent of our sins and are washed by His precious blood, we will be saved. If we believe in Him, we will follow His teachings and commandments. Without following the commandments which is the word of God we cannot love Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit from heaven. We cannot enter the kingdom of heaven without receiving the Holy Spirit and following the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Without Holy Spirit we cannot live a righteous life in this world. It is the grace of our LORD and saviour Jesus Christ that helps us to rise up again after we fall. The wisest man in the world said in Proverb 24:16, “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief”. I would like to finish my sermon with two questions. The first disciples received the Holy Spirit and spoke the wonderful works of God. Have we received the Holy Spirit? Do we speak the wonderful works of God?
Let us pray!
Dear LORD Jesus, we thank you for offering Yourself as the Passover Lamb for the remission of our sins. We thank You for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Help us to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance to obey the laws and commandments that You taught. Thank you for separating us from this world. Prepare us to be salt and light in this world to be Your witnesses. Help us to share Your light to the world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!