Fifth Week of Easter, 2015
May 3, 2015
We are now into the Fifth week of our homiletic series entitled “Invited into Eternity”, which we began on Easter Sunday.
The theme of this series is that God the Father, from the dawn of creation, has not only been inviting us to an eternal life in Heaven with Him, but that He has done everything in His power to lure us, to coax us, and to entice into accepting His invitation, and continues to do so to this very day. That’s why He never gave up on Adam and Eve. It’s why He saved the world after the great flood. It’s why He called Abraham and started the nation of Israel. It’s why He continually had mercy on them after their ongoing rejection of His love. It’s why He sent Jesus and it’s why Jesus suffered and died for us, pouring out every last drop of His precious blood and it’s why He raised Jesus from the dead.
But His coaxing, His luring, His enticing didn't stop there. Even after Jesus rose from the dead, humanity still did not understand, and so Jesus came back to try finally once and for all to get them to understand. That’s what the stories we've been hearing during this Easter season are all about. He appeared to Mary Magdalen. He appeared to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. He appeared to the Apostles while those disciples were explaining to them what they saw, and then He appeared to the Apostles again because Thomas wasn't there when He appeared the first time. Even after that the Apostles still headed back to their old livelihood of fishing and Jesus appeared yet again, this time with breakfast prepared for them on the beach. But He is not just inviting into eternity, He is inviting us into eternity with Him. He is inviting us to a life of the very best kind.
Last week we looked at the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, and we said that just as the Shepherd leads his sheep to the very best kind of life they can have on earth, so Jesus leads us to the very best kind of life that we can have both here on earth and into eternity. This week, Jesus gives us another image. He says that His Father is the vine grower, He is the vine, and we are the branches. This indeed is another way to invite us to an eternal life of the very best kind.
He says “Remain in me as I remain in you…because without me you can do nothing.” With Him there is love, joy, peace, gentleness, self-control and success. What Jesus is doing here is not only inviting us to life of the best kind but He is telling us how to receive it and how to live it; by remaining with Him and by allowing Him to stay with us. We must spend time with Him and His word every day of our lives with a goal of allowing Him to achieve a pervasive presence throughout our lives. That’s how we achieve success- His success. That’s how we achieve peace and joy and contentment. It’s how our hearts and minds are conformed to His and it is how His desires become the desires of our hearts. It is then that we can ask for whatever we want and it will be done for us, because our desires and His desires are one. It is then that we will bear much fruit and glorify the Father. That is a life of the very best kind and we are invited to live it from here through eternity.
- Rev. Joseph Maloney, Pastor