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Worship Theme: Victorious Love

Sermon Theme: The Hidden Glory of Love

Jesus knows our condition and the depravity of our hearts. He knows the hopelessness of our sinful state, and he does something about it. In John 13:31-35 we see that he comes to us to teach us and to show us the hidden glory of love. May 15, 2022.

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“Are you living a glorious life?” I bet that’s not a question that you get asked very often. But today I am asking you just that: “Are you living a glorious life?”

I’ve got a hunch that most of you will quickly answer “No!” And there might be a few reasons why. Some of you are experiencing too many challenges and hardships to even think about life as being glorious. Others might be living a halfway decent life, but it’s beyond the limits of your humility to call it glorious. Others of you maybe lean a bit (or maybe strongly) towards the pessimistic side of the spectrum and so no matter how good things are going, something could always be better! I think it’s safe to assume that most of you wouldn’t describe your life as glorious.

How would the world define a glorious life? There was a TV show in the 80s and 90s called “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” While I recognize that some of you are too young to know about that show, there are enough of you who remember Robin Leech taking his TV audience along to tour the homes and lives of celebrities. There are modern day equivalents – shows and articles and lists on the internet that show how much people are worth, what kinds of cars they drive and homes they live in. The world sees wealth and glory as pretty much the same thing!

What else is glory in the eyes of the world? Power is held up as a glorious thing. The CEO of the company has the giant office and lives in the mansion. People report to him and what he wants he gets! When he extends a directive, people snap in line and carry it out.

What is glory for you? What is glory according to your heart? Is it freedom? (Being unchecked to do as you please?) Is it following after and fulfilling the desires of your heart? Is it making a name for yourself and not having to consider how your actions impact others?

The world chases after those things. Your heart even longs for that kind of glory, but God calls that by a different name. He calls it selfishness. He calls it sin!

Jesus gives his clear command in these words “Love One Another.” We are OK with, I’d even say good at, the first two words. “Love One” – as long as that One is me! We don’t need any training on how to love ourselves. It’s the default setting of our hearts. We do the things that will make us happy. We measure out each decision, each action in how it will impact us. And even when we do things for others, those actions are painted by our selfish hearts. We pay attention to those who will pay attention back. We help in hopes of the favor being returned. It’s really always about us! We want the glory. We want the attention. We want the benefit!

But the promises that our hearts make are empty. The lies are many. We never get what we are seeking. The world cannot deliver on what it seems to offer. It’s powerless to provide anything of meaning or value. Our sinfulness leaves us without anything only destined for punishment and death.

But Jesus knows! Jesus knows our condition. He knows the depravity of our hearts. He knows the hopelessness of our sinful state, and he does something about it. He comes to us to teach us and to show us the hidden glory of love.

When (Judas) 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.

Jesus and his disciples were in the upper room. It was Maundy Thursday evening. He had just exposed Judas as the betrayer and sent him on his way to carry out his cowardly act. So now what? Now it was just 11 disciples and Jesus, and now what? Put yourself in Jesus’ shoes for a moment. What do you say? “Can you believe that guy?” “He thinks he’s going to get away with this?!?” What do you do? Take off in the other direction? Lock the doors and lay low? You do probably just about anything except what Jesus did; he packed up, sang a hymn with his disciples and headed straight towards his betrayer. He went straight to the place where he would be betrayed and arrested!

Some might call that foolish! Listen to how Jesus describes it! “NOW the Son of Man is glorified!” In his carrying out of the plan of salvation…in his staying the course and fulfilling the will of God. In his betrayal, his arrest, his suffering… “NOW the Son of Man is glorified!”

How can he call a midnight arrest, a kangaroo court, a public humiliation, his own people chanting crucify him…How can Jesus call that glorious? How can being publicly whipped, being crowned with thorns, being nailed to a cross and left there to die…How can Jesus call that glorious?

Because it’s what he came to do. It’s the culmination of 33 years of living life for us. It’s the finish line that he had been looking toward since Mary placed him in a manger. It doesn’t seem very glorious to us, but it’s the hidden glory of love.

It’s really the story of all of the Bible – the hidden glory of love. That God would connect himself to sinful people. That Jesus would leave a throne of glory to live a life of poverty and humility on earth. That the Creator would become like created beings like us and would even subject himself to our pain, our punishment, our death! That’s what Jesus did for us. That’s the hidden glory of love.

And Jesus hides his glory once again as he puts his love in our hearts. He chooses simple, common people like us to be his own. He showers us with his undeserved love and puts faith in our hearts to know him as our Savior God!

And with faith and his power in our hearts, his commands have a different place in our life. No longer is his command “Love One Another” an impossibility for us. With faith in our hearts, now Jesus helps us to accomplish his will. Now his law is a way that can live for him!

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. Apart from Jesus this would be Mission Impossible – but motivated and empowered by him, it is our joy and delight to love one another. Jesus loved us and now we can love one another. Jesus loved people who didn’t deserve it, we can seek to extend forgiveness and kindness to those in our lives. Jesus showed us selfless love and we can do the same – not expecting anything in return, but rejoicing in an opportunity to serve. Jesus showed sacrificial love, we now can humbly sacrifice as we love those around us. We can give things up - like time, like comfort, like resources. We can make sacrifices in order to be servants to those in our lives. Humility is at the core. It may not always result in gain for us, but it’s the hidden glory of love.

It’s not hard to know what team a person is cheering for if you are at the game! People are decked out in the gear of the team that they are cheering for. A person who has a Giannis jersey on wants you to know that they are a fan of him for sure and probably of the whole Bucks team. The person who wears a cheese on his head to a football game is making a very specific statement of allegiance to his favorite team. He’s not afraid at all of letting the world know that he cheers for the Green Bay Packers. It’s pretty unmistakable.

Jesus tells us a way that we can be identified. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We can show the world that we are on team Jesus when we treat the world the way that Jesus did. Christian love is the jersey that we can wear, it’s the identifying mark of who we are and whose we are. We can be ambassadors of his love and seek to spread it far and wide. We can look at those around us the same way that Jesus looks at us - with humility, compassion and love.

Sometimes the tasks that life brings to us aren’t very glorious. Helping a second grader with her math homework, befriending the eccentric lady on your block, giving someone a ride when they are in need. Those tasks aren’t exceedingly glorious by themselves…but they are ways that we can serve. A lot of things we do in life, ways that we help others no one ever finds out about. But God sees them. They are glorious acts to him – because of the hidden glory of love.

And just like Jesus – we can share a message of love. The world around us needs to hear. They need to know who Jesus is and how he extends his limitless, sacrificial, undeserved love to all people everywhere. And we can be the ones to share it! We can leverage the relationships that we have to share the most important message that has ever been shared. We can show the best kind of love, by pointing others to the love of their Savior.

I asked you before if your life was glorious! And now I’m expecting and praying that you want to change your answer!! You are valued by Jesus – enough for him to live for you and die for you. He sees fit to dwell in your heart and call you his child! God chose you before you were born. He has paid the full price and made the full arrangements for you have life with him forever! And he’s even called you to wear the Christian jersey of love and generously show and share that love with those around you and in your life. The world may not find value there. They may not see it, but you do…the value of living for others and living for our God…The gift of being loved by God and the privilege to reflect that love to those in this world. It’s the hidden glory of love.

Being loved by Jesus is about as glorious as it gets! Having a promise to live with him forever in the perfection of heaven - it doesn’t get any better than that. Here on earth, it may at times be hidden glory– but with him in heaven, the glory will be on full display and it will never end. And all of this is yours, then and now, because of the love of Jesus, your Savior. Amen.       

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