Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Sermon / Homily on John 15:9-17

Devotional Thoughts for the Celebration of the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus

by Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil

Scripture: John 15:9-17

Next Sunday is New Year's day. According to our liturgical calendar, the first day of the year is the celebration of the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus. It is a Christian celebration in accordance with Jewish tradition which is eight days after the birth and is the occasion when the child is formally given his name. The custom was practiced to keep up with the Jewish law which then was that all males shall be circumcised eight days after his birth when the child is formally given his name. Thus Jesus fulfilled the law to show descent to the flesh of Abraham. He was, as St Paul says, "made under the law", that is, submitted to the Mosaic tradition in order to fulfill all justice. He endured this human humiliation to bear the sins of the world which he had taken upon himself.

The second chapter of Luke records the circumcision of Jesus. When eight days were completed for the circumcising the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. Luke 2:21)

After the 1st century, the issue of circumcision was resolved and the non-Jewish Christians were not obliged to be circumcised. Apostle St. Paul was a leading proponent of this position. Circumcision soon became rare since that time in the Christian world.

Today's Gospel reading is from John 15:9-17.

Gospel: "9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit - fruit that will last - and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other." (John 15:9-17)

Theme: How to dwell in Jesus' love for a joyful life?


Paul Dore was a well known German painting artist who lived in the 19th century. He was known for illustrating many paintings of spiritual art. He said once that 'you have to love the object to be able to truly do justice to your work. The more you love the object, you would do more justice to it.'

Something similar is true of our Christian life. If we love Jesus more, we will serve him better; We will follow his ways; and we will obey his commandments. The stronger our love for Jesus, the greater our fellowship with him will be. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus then would direct our life. From his love, we will abide by obeying his will upon us.

Our love for God will strengthen his will upon us. For this, we have to encourage God's love to enter in us. In order to achieve that, we must cheerfully obey God's Commandments. When we increasingly experience God's love by obeying God's commandments, we will then realize the joy of God's presence in us. The Holy Spirit will fill us with joy and happiness that cannot be expressed in any words.

Bible's most important scripture, John 3:16 tells us, 'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.'

Just before going to the cross, Jesus took the opportunity to instruct his disciples and said to them, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you that my joy is in you and that your joy may be complete."

Two things Jesus has told them: "Obey my commands" and "remain in my love." These commands are given for the simple reason that we might have complete joy in God's presence. The first command is Obedience. Obedience results in joy. The purpose is not to limit the freedom so that to make our life miserable. The opposite is true. Obedience to God is the path to joy. By obeying the commands, we find significance and purpose in our life. Joy is a product of obedience to Jesus. The purpose of Jesus' teaching is is to experience his love, thereby experience his joy. It was for giving us a life full of joy. Jesus is the source our joy. Jesus' joy came through his obedience to his Father's will. The command to obey his will results in our joy. Jesus had great joy in pleasing his Father's will. Jesus wants to share that joy with us. It is a gift of Jesus that he plans to give to his obedient disciples. It is simply more than human joy. It is the joy of knowing Jesus. It is the joy of knowing his love. It is an echo of God's life within us.

The joy that Jesus offers is not worldly pleasure, but is spiritual happiness. Worldly pleasure is dependent on circumstances. Spiritual joy is inward and is not affected by one's environment. Pleasure is a changing phenomenon. The joy from Jesus is full and everlasting. It is grounded in Jesus. It is the sacrificial giving of ourselves. It focuses on the needs of others.

Dwelling in Christ means living by his words. Living by his words leads to communion with Jesus which will make us fruitful and prove that we are true disciples of Christ. Love of Jesus leads to obedience to Christ. This love unites and strengthens our relationship with Jesus. The resulting relationship will produce joy in us.

See Also:

Devotional Thoughts for Jan 1 - circumcision of Lord
by Jose Kurian Puliyeril

Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for the 1st Sunday after Christmas

Why Jesus was Baptized?
by Rev. Fr. K. K. John

Christ Jesus, the Voice, and the Dove
by Jacob P Varghese

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