150510 Acts 9:36-42

Last Updated on Monday, 11 May 2015 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Sermon Text: Acts 9:36-42
Sermon Theme: Love One Another

During the episode of A.D. The Bible Continues last Sunday, several times Peter reminded both the followers of Jesus and others that a main teaching of the Lord Jesus is a willingness to forgive others and to show them love. Peter was there in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday when Jesus said to his disciples: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love...My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." So today, you and I hear that same encouragement from the loving Savior who laid down his life for you and me, from the risen and living Lord and Savior, when he says to you and he says to me: "This is my command: Love one another."

Before we talk about loving one another, we first need to remember the great love our Savior-God has for you and me. In his first letter, the Lord's disciple John wrote about that love. As we heard read earlier for us: "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." A holy and just God demanded payment for your sins and my sins. What your sins and what my sins have earned for you and for me is not God's love, but rather his hatred and anger. However, instead of punishing you and me, in his love God the Father sent his one and only Son as the sacrifice, as the full payment price, that made you and me at one with God. In his love, Jesus gave up his perfect life, he offered up his body and shed his blood so that you and I are able to enjoy the forgiveness of all of our sins.

It is in response to the great love of our Savior-God that you and I desire to show love to others. In our lesson from Acts today we see first how Tabitha (who was also known as Dorcas) showed her love for her fellow believers. We are told that she "was always doing good and helping the poor." We are also told that one way she specifically helped the poor was by making clothes for them.

As we read about Tabitha (or Dorcas) on this Mothers' Day, we remember all things that our mothers do for you and me. In love for us, they work hard to provide for us, whether that is working outside of the home or working as a "stay at home" mom. I am sure that if you were to ask them that not one of them would claim to be the perfect mom. Those of you who have been blessed to be mothers are able to think of plenty of times you have failed to be the kind of Christian Mother the Lord asks you to be. But taking to the cross of your loving Savior those times you failed to be the kind of mother the Lord of the Home asks you to be, you rejoice in the forgiveness that he won for you. In response to that forgiveness you work hard to show Christian love and support to your family and to others. As Christ forgives us, so you and I forgive our mothers for those times they have sinned against us. And we thank the Lord of the Home for the blessing of our Christian Mothers who gladly listen to the encouragement: Love one another.

There were others that day in Joppa who followed the encouragement to love one another. After Tabitha died, her body was lovingly prepared for burial. Some of the women who had lost their own husbands through death were there mourning her death and remembering all that Tabitha had done for others.

Love one another is the encouragement we hear today. One way that you and I are able to show love for one another is to offer someone comfort and support when they suffer the death of a loved one. We can be that "shoulder to lean on" for them during their time of grief. We can offer to cook meals for them. We can pray for them. But most importantly, if it is the death of a fellow Christian, we are able to share with them the sweet message of the Gospel and the comfort that their loved one is now enjoying the perfect peace and happiness at their Savior's side in heaven.

Another group that showed their love in our reading today were the fellow believers in Joppa and the two men whom they sent to tell Peter about Tabitha's death and encouraged him to come to Joppa. Why did they ask Peter to come? Did they want Peter to come and offer comfort to the group who was sad and crying? Did they expect Peter to perform a miracle and bring Tabitha back to life? The Bible doesn't tell us what the motive was of these two men and the others disciples, just that they wanted Peter to come.

Love one another. A way that you and I are able to show love for someone is by seeking out others who might be able to help them in their time of need. For example, let's say you have a friend who is struggling with a particular temptation and sin. You have done all that you are able to do for them. You aren't sure what the next best course of action might be for them. So, you seek out others who might be able to help in some way. Maybe that means finding a professional, someone who is trained in helping those who are facing the particular temptation or sin that your friend is struggling with. Maybe it is finding a fellow Christian who has faced that same temptation, but with strength provided by the Holy Spirit they have overcome that temptation. The Lord could then use that person to offer encouragement to your friend from God's Word, pray for them and support them.

There is one more person who shows love for others in this reading from Acts chapter 9. It is Peter. Notice that Peter didn't think that he was too busy to come. He didn't think of himself as far too important to be bothered. Rather, Peter immediately went to Joppa to see what he could do. While the Bible doesn't record all the conversations that took place when Peter arrived, we can picture him coming into the home and offering words of comfort and support to those who had gathered there. We can hear him sharing the message of the risen and living Savior and the promise of eternal life through him. And then we are told, "Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, 'Tabitha, get up.' She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive." And what was the result of this miracle? We are told that "this became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord."

Love one another is the encouragement from God's Word that we hear today. Now you and I may not be able to raise someone from the dead. But we are able to serve as the Lord's spokesmen. We share the message of God's Word with them. To those who are dead in their sins, who are not troubled in anyway by their sins or sinful lifestyle, we share the message of God's Law. To those who are crushed by the message of God's Law, we offer the peace that can only come from God's Word; the peace of the forgiveness of all sins through the loving Lord Jesus. To those who have suffered the loss of a loved one through death, we can offer them the comfort of a living Savior who makes them the promise "that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I read this quote on a Mothers' Day card this past week: "A Mother's love is something that no one can explain; It is made of deep devotion and of sacrifice and pain; It is endless and unselfish and enduring come what may; For nothing can destroy it or take that love away." As I read it, I found myself thinking about the readings from God's Word for us this weekend. It reminded me of the great love that our God has for you and me. The love of God the Father moved him to sacrifice his Son. The love of Jesus caused him pain as he suffered and died on the cross for you and me. Using the words found on this card, the love that the one true God has for you and me is "endless". It is "unselfish". It is "enduring". "Nothing can destroy it or take that love away." So, as John writes to you and me today, "Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." Amen.


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