East5C19. Acts of the Apostles 14:21-27. Paul and Barnabas go from place to place establishing the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ among the Gentiles. As they prepared to leave each place and go on to the next, “they appointed elders for them in each church” so that the work of the church had a firm structure on which to continue until the Second Coming of Jesus. Finally they went back to Antioch which had been their starting point. “They called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” When the Acts of the Apostles speaks of the ‘church’, it is always referring to the people who had chosen to follow Christ. In the beginning there were no church buildings, only synagogues and peoples’ homes. What makes a building a church is that is where God’s people gather to express and celebrate their faith, individually and communally.
John 13:31-33a, 34-35. “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. In John 15:12, Jesus again says, “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus changes the Old Testament: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:31; Matthew 19:19 & 22:39; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8) The measure in Christianity for loving is not how much we love ourselves but rather to love to the degree that Jesus loved and loves us, to the cross. Secondly, we can love as Jesus loved to the degree that we live in Christ and draw upon his love for us. Only after we have received God’s love, will we have a love, divinely received, that we can bring to others. Human love is filled with self-interest, giving so that we can receive from the ones to whom we have given. As Christians we ought not so much bring a love that we naturally have for ourselves to others but rather a supernatural love that we have received from Christ to bring to others. In John 15:5 Jesus said: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” When we do what God has commanded of us, we do it, not out of own resources but out of what we have received from God. 1 John 4:19 reads: “We love because he first loved us.” To have any spiritual resources or grace we must remain in him as he remains in us. (John15:4a) In John 17:26 Jesus said: “I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.” When we love as Christ has loved, all will know that we are his disciples.
The sign that Jesus’ passion and death is to begin is Judas’ departure from the Last Supper. Then Jesus says, “Now is the son of Man glorified.” His astounding act of love in his offering of himself to redeem us not only gives him glory but also the Father glory. 1 John 4:10 reads: “In this is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
Revelation 21:1-5a. God will and does now dwell with the human race “and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God.” “The One who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’” God takes all that was fallen and lost and makes it new by his love.