Praising YHWH in Fullness: Reflections on Psalm 22:25-31

And finally in John 15 the metaphor of Jesus as vine concludes the study by suggesting that any who would be disciples of this Jesus, who in John's reading is one with God, must "bear much fruit," as any good and healthy vine invariably does. And by "bearing fruit" John means "keeping (Jesus') commandments" and "abiding in (Jesus') love" (John 15:10). Since the "new" commandment of Jesus is itself love, as John says again and again in the gospel, those who love as Jesus loves and is loved by God will be grafted into the vine, will end in praise of the God who loves.

Hence, the community of Easter is characterized by radical love and radical inclusion, because God in Jesus excludes no one. By implication, those who do exclude know nothing of the love of God, as 1 John 4:8, part of the epistle lesson for this day, so boldly declares: "Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love." And the passage goes on to pronounce what may be the sharpest statement about the necessity of love one is ever likely to find in the Bible: "Those who say, 'I love God,' and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars." Case closed! "Not everyone who cries, 'Lord, Lord,' enters the realm of God, but only those who do the work of that God in the world," in short, those who love as God loves.

Easter people love as God loves, and because the God we worship does not exclude any of the creatures God has made, we strive to do the same. Hence, loving our enemies is not some outlandish impossibility; it is the call of a God who can do no other.

So this day we moved from God's answer to our cries of agony, leading to our vows to heed the cries of the poor, leading to the universal praise of the God who answers our needs, leading to the rich interpretation of the God who suffers with us, leading to God's call to love all whom God loves. This Sunday could be said to be nothing less than a full disclosure of the gospel itself. Allow your people to hear it with passion and joy, and may all of you praise YHWH!

4/28/2015 4:00:00 AM
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  • John Holbert
    About John Holbert
    John C. Holbert is the Lois Craddock Perkins Professor Emeritus of Homiletics at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, TX.
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