Archive for category Lent B
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” [NRSV]
Give me a drink:
Give us this day our daily bread. Our bodies need water each day. The proper amount to remain hydrated is varried, but if the general consensus is that our bodies are 50%-70% based on many factors.
Water serves multiple purposes:
- Water is the primary building block of cells.
- It acts as an insulator, regulating internal body temperature. This is partly because water has a high specific heat, plus the body uses perspiration and respiration to regulate temperature.
- Water is needed to metabolize proteins and carbohydrates used as food. It is the primary component of saliva, used to digest carbohydrates and aid in swallowing food.
- The compound lubricates joints.
- Water insulates the brain, spinal cord, organs, and fetus. It acts as a shock absorber.
- Water is used to flush waste and toxins from the body via urine. ref
I have no bucket
Jesus knows that this woman has no bucket, because of the time of day and the lack of others at the well.
Well of Jacob – promised land: Spiritual water – a promise of eternal home.
Gushing up to eternal lifestyle not still water waiting in a well, but living water moving toward us.
What does it mean to spiritually thirst?
Spiritual thirst is the underlying motive that people have to seek after God, to start and continue their search for God.
It could be guilt over sin, it could be a longing for honest community, it could be guidance and direction, among some ideas.
It could be a stark realization that the person has made a giant mess of their life. Driven hard, past empty and now stuck.
Quenching our Spiritual Thirst
- Living Water is the Building Block of our spiritual self
- Living Water protects and insulates us in times of temptation and testing.
- Living Water helps us digest, understand and apply scripture.
- Living Water lubricates when we get stuck, dry, worn out, afraid.
- Living Water flushes sin out of our systems and spirits.
- Living Water is bottled, distributed and provided by God as a living presence in our lives.
- Drink Up! Don’t be spiritually dehydrated
- Look To Jesus and the church for the Bucket!
- God desires to reach out to our spirit and make us whole.
- If you find someone needing access to the well, lead them to Living Water.
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. [NRSV]
1. Ticket to Ride
- Nicodemus is having a rabbi-to-rabbi
- Talking about faith is not having faith
- Talking about eternal life is accessing spiritual birth
- Birth comes as a process of conception, maturity, and birth
- Spiritual Birth is God’s process of bringing Spirit to become alive in us.
2. Being Born of the Spirit in No Physical Accomplishment
- Spiritual Birth is God’s Work, not our work
- We can’t explain salvation into being, The Jesus’s work
- We can’t scientifically prove salvation, That is Jesus’s work
- We can’t hold the Spirit, but it can move us like the wind moves the trees.
3. Spiritual Awakening vs. Spiritual Birth
- Jesus makes Spiritual birth possible before our awareness
- Our waking up the Spirit within us is our awakening
- Philosophers, poets, musicians, lawyers, teachers and scholars have lead people to spiritual awakening but they cannot create the Spirit of God within us.
4. Wind Blown, Spirit Lead
- Jesus helps find Jesus in his being and not just in his head and in the words.
- More than being people of God or followers of Jesus, you and I are people of the Spirit.
- We are spiritual beings in a physical body.
- Awakening comes to us when we realize there is more to us than the sum of our parts.
5. Jesus brings Us to Spiritual Life
- The many physical and mental things that divide us in society are not of the Spirit.
- Racism is a spiritual problem: The misuse of power over people based on the color physical parts
- Sexism is a spiritual problem: The misuse of power over a gender.
- Political polarization is a spiritual problem that is not solved by converting the enemy, it is solved by spiritual awakening to follow God.
- Division in the church is a spiritual problem. The answer is not getting the colors right or the money right nor is it getting the theology right.
- The answer is being in right relationship with the Spirit
6. God is doing whatever it takes to save us.
- Hear the Good News: God is working to save us, not condemn us.
- When you hear someone talk about church, God or the Bible as judgmental, know their perspective is out of right relationship.
- God’s work in Jesus is to save us.
- God’s work in Jesus requires that we see what separates are physical things.
Nicodemus is holding on to his own way of thinking, and Jesus is saying the gift of salvation is already available, ONE has to let go of SIN, let go of PRIDE, let go of being CORRECT, Let go of
SO WHAT does all that have to do with my life?
- Know God is working to love, save and claim us.
- Know Jesus makes new birth possible
- Know that following Jesus is following the Spirit
- Know that following your heart is not the target.
- Following the Spirit will let go of selfishness, sin, brokenness, control
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ” Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. [NRSV]
There have been an unusually high number of skunks trying to cross the road on Long Hollow and Burning Bush Roads.
The ride smells horrible for days, just when the odor relents there are other carcasses on the road and the stench continues for a few more days.
Sin and Temptation to Sin are equally as persistent
Confession Time: What are you tempted. Gluttony, Pride, Greed, Lust, Fear, Laziness, Apathy, Arrogance start my list. Whats on your list?
Jesus’ temptation covers a wide, wide range.
- Physical Hunger: strength. It takes more than satisfying the body to eternally satisfied
- Physical Health: heart and mind. It takes more than a single act of healing or protect to have eternal salvation
- Self will: mind, you can fool yourself all of time, and that can fool everyone except God.
Lk 10:27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’
- one does not live by bread alone
- do not put your Lord God to the test
- away with you, Worship God and serve only him.
Jesus was tempted and tested.
- Jesus was tested by the devil in the wilderness.
- Jesus was tested at the most vulnerable time. (at the end of the fast,
- Jesus was tested with integrity (at issue is the why of sacrifice, cross, why not just skip the suffering and hard parts.
- Jesus was tested when the whole world was at stake
Temptation and Testing are Real for us
Jesus responds with scripture, not for the devil’s benefit but for his own reference and strength.
Bear Encounters [Direct from the National Parks Service website] Ref to Jesus to show similarities are not on the nps site.
Once a bear has noticed you and is paying attention to you, additional strategies can help prevent the situation from escalating.
Identify yourself by talking calmly so the bear knows you are a human and not a prey animal.[Jesus starts the conversation directly leading the situation] Remain still; stand your ground but slowly wave your arms. Help the bear recognize you as a human. It may come closer or stand on its hind legs to get a better look or smell. A standing bear is usually curious, not threatening.
Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone. Bears may bluff their way out of an encounter by charging and then turning away at the last second. Bears may also react defensively by wooﬁng, yawning, salivating, growling, snapping their jaws, and laying their ears back. Continue to talk to the bear in low tones; this will help you stay calmer, and it won’t be threatening to the bear. A scream or sudden movement may trigger an attack. Never imitate bear sounds or make a high-pitched squeal.
Pick up small children immediately.
Hike and travel in groups. Groups of people are usually noisier and smellier than a single person. Therefore, bears often become aware of groups of people at greater distances, and because of their cumulative size, groups are also intimidating to bears.
Make yourselves look as large as possible [Jesus started relying on scripture] (for example, move to higher ground).
Do NOT allow the bear access to your food. Getting your food will only encourage the bear and make the problem worse for others.
Do NOT drop your pack as it can provide protection for your back and prevent a bear from accessing your food.
If the bear is stationary, move away slowly and sideways; this allows you to keep an eye on the bear and avoid tripping. Moving sideways is also non-threatening to bears. Do NOT run, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground. Bears can run as fast as a racehorse both uphill and down. Like dogs, they will chase ﬂeeing animals. Do NOT climb a tree. Both grizzlies and black bears can climb trees.
Leave the area or take a detour. [Jesus ends the stand-off, and calls for the devil to leave.] If this is impossible, wait until the bear moves away. Always leave the bear an escape route.
Be especially cautious if you see a female with cubs; never place yourself between a mother and her cub, and never attempt to approach them. The chances of an attack escalate greatly if she perceives you as a danger to her cubs.
Ultimately, it is having the strength to say, no, and get away from me.
Jesus models how to deal with temptation, Go back to the Garden, the same remedy
Address it for what it is, head-on
Rely on the strength of scripture and God’s presence to speak, not our spin or the twisting ideas of others.
Jesus is in charge, calling for the devil/evil to leave and have no power over. [The devil can’t make you do anything]
Choose, this day whom you will serve and follow God and no one else.
Practice: Get away from me.
Name sin and temptation for what it is in your life
Rely on God’s word and strength to be your starting point
Finally, Get away!! You take responsibility for your own choice and choose not to eat from the tree at the center of the garden.
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” [NRSV]
I recall visiting sanctuaries through out Europe, some hundreds of years and wonder on one hand did Jesus imagine the ornate gilded cathedrals would become witnesses of his body and presence in the world. On the other hand, having walk through those ornate and gilded cathedrals and having join in the presence of worship that was older than my prayers and praises the allow us to experience the glories of a presence that is beyond our imagination and beyond our wealth and beyond our interpretation.
Somewhere in the combination of faithful stewardship and extravagant generosity we find the sincerity and and passion of worship.
There are times for simple and there are time for excess
The Garden of Eden reflects a sips relationship, one love and one rule, one trust and the consequences one transgression/choice.
Think of worship in the home of Mary and Martha. Recall Martha is the practical, hard working, thrifty with time and extravagant with comfort and dependable order. Mary is willing to throw caution aside! She is willing to leaving the house messy for a time, eat brunch for dinner, and invite too many guests to the party.
Mary take an extraordinary gift worth a years wage and gives the entire jar to cover Jesus. One pure of nard retailed for $700. Not a dab with the lid behind the ear r on ones wrist. She covers Jesus’s feet. Nard is viscous, acidic and concentrated scent similar to gardenia. It would have filled the house
Today we come to a historical day in the life of the church that is a mar rage of extravagant generosity AND a practical challenge. The big news is about t be revealed and it is a unique and exciting opportunity that draws on both our Mary and Martha sides.
The waste is not in using our gifts, the waste would be not to give.
Life in the Joy of Chrost with us.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. [NRSV]
The One sentence sermon: Because of God’s work of grace in Christ makes our spirit new, we are charged with a ministry of doing the same with the world through Christ.
Paul Case for the Church:
- God has been busy.
- God has changed the world, the rules and has changed us.
- The rules and boundaries have changed.
- We are no longer in control and no longer responsible for our salvation.
- Because God lived, died and conquered death, we now know God, in this new resurrection life.
- Everything old has passed away.
- Everything is being made new
- God’s goal is to make things whole.
- Reconciliation: God making our relationship whole.
- Why would God want to reset the relationship with us? The old ways are not working for us.
- What are the old ways?
- Choosing to Trust God with the purpose of our living.
- Choosing What God would want for us, because we trust God’s love and authority
- Choosing not because death is the alternative, rather because trusting God is
- God is working through us, just as God worked through Jesus.
- Ministry of Reconciliation
- Work as Ambassadors
- Being whole is God reflects our purpose,
- get your Jesus Shine on, show them, Chrost
Ambassadors for Jesus Christ. Official spokespersons and witnesses of Jesus.
- In Christ we are a new creation, the old passes away,
- This is made possible by God, through Jesus, for a ministry of reconciliation.
- We are entrusted with God’s message of reconciliation,
- As resident representatives.
- God appeal is make through us, when we are in Christ.
Ministry of reconciliation:
Be Reconciled, find the common ground, that leads to truce, which gives space for steps toward what is consistent with both parties and for Christians that is when we recognize that we are sinners, made new in Christ, to be witnesses to others sinful, broken, hurting folks toward the whole world accepting the work of Grace God has done through Christ for us all.
- Be reconciled is be working toward Christ.
- Be Ambassadors of the Journey
- Be come the Child of God, through Christ, for the transformation of the world.
- Key verse for being United Methodist
Applied to how we relate to sin, shine the light of Christ on our family, neighbor, communion, nation and world.. Show Christ
- sometimes Jesus says take a sword other times put them away
- sometimes Jesus says come to me and at the same time go and sin no more
- sometimes Jesus rides in triumphantly and walks on water, other time he disappears in the crowd
- sometimes Jesus says feed the hungry and times he says eat this bread
To reflect Christ is neither conservative nor liberal
To reflect Christ is allow the new creation to thrive and the old self to let go
To reflect Christ is to be close enough to Christ, by faith/trust, that it’s Christ the world sees
Go let God make is so through Christ, Shine on!
At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ “ [NRSV]
Shootings, terror incidences, oppresses and abuses!! It feels as if each day brings terrible news of violence and tragedies. We either struggle to renew our claim to hope or add to the calluses built on the previous tsunamis of chaos and generations of apathy.
But from these witnesses of evil we look and hope for the good. We hear people ask:
- Is the racism of the systems that cause police to unjustly do their jobs or is it the lawlessness of thug culture to blame? Which is the evil and which is the good?
- Are we to blame drugs and alcohol, those who produce and traffic them, or those who use them for the death and mayhem associated with their abuse, or those who stand by and watch to only direct blame? Which is the evil and which is the good?
- Are those killed as victims of holy wars made especially righteous for their martyrdom or are they only casualties of evil. Where is the good? Are we safe? Are we Saved?
- Why do bad things happen to good people?
- Why do bad people seem to get away with anything?
- Why do the good die young?
- Did those faithful and innocent folks loose salvation because their deaths were tainted with the evil acts of an oppressive government? This question, like those above are put to Jesus for understanding:
A Question, An Answer. A Warning, and a Parable.
Jesus is asked a question. He gives a straightforward answer. He adds a warning and teaches with a parable.
- Is the life of a faithful person of more value than the life of a criminal?
- Is the life of a victim more important than the life of an oppressor?
- Is the life of an innocent person of more worth than the existence of a thug?
- Is the life of a politician worth less than a… well you know what I mean.
Jesus gives an answer:
Are you ready? The answer is.. No!
Not complicated, not filtered, not qualified, no need for interpretation. Just, No.
No the life of the innocent, the victim, the faithful one is no less valued to God than the life of the criminal, the oppressor, or the thug.
- Which leads to Jesus’s warning.
- Our salvation, value/existence are connected to our relationship with God in this life.
- WARNING: Worry about repenting more than blaming.
- Worry about grace instead of rules and laws
Focus on God instead of yourself or anything that leads you away from God.
Crazy Questions: This warning leads us to ask questions:
- Are the Jews Going to Heaven?
- Are the Muslim Lost?
- If someone has not been baptized are they saved?
Answer is not about words and thoughts as much as it is about actions
Jesus answers with a WARNING:
- Were they trying to live a life that leads to God?
- Can you look at their lives and see God at work in them?
- Were they working with the hope of finding God?
- Were they working to assure themselves an entrance ticket or a relationship with God?
- Was God an add-on to a host of things they did?
- Was God the reasons they woke up live and lied down to rest?
- Are you more worried about what you can’t control
- or more assured with what God CAN control?
The Warning: Don’t live or die without repenting.
REPENTANCE: Turning one’s life toward God’s heart.
- Repentance is not about the words we speak and the thoughts we think
- Repentance is the fruit of a searching heart
- Repentance is the evidence of our struggle toward God and overcoming evil.
- Repentance is active, observable and gives at witness to others and encouragement to ourselves.
The Parable: Jesus uses a time of worry, fear and evil as a time for faith and fruitfulness.
The Fig Tree
It should be cut down, but it is not, because the gardener has patience and grace
The prescription is for intentional work, nutritious effort and waiting for fruit.
The Goal is fruit
- The Process is Grace
- The Danger is to
- Not work
- Not Study, Struggle and Share
- To end up empty
- This is a day to work on the relationship
- This is a day to study, pray, serve, forgive, love, teach, question, grow
- This is a day to look for the presence of God bearing fruilt
- If there is not fruit, the get to work.
BECAUSE: No fruit waists the soil, wastes the trust, wastes the grace, wastes the time.
- The question is not about are we saved?
- The question is God’s presence obvious in my life, thought, words, and actions?
- The question is what am I waiting for, if not for God?
- Are the things and thoughts that consume me, bringing God closer to me and closer to God’s people, or not?
- If you don’t see the fruit, get to work, add some fellowship, worship, study and service and wait for God to work through God’s process.
Begin by the act of spiritual inventory:
Do I need to repent? Do I need God? Want God? Have I got it covered?
Ask your neighbor: Where do you see God at work in my life? Tell your neighbor the truth because their salvation weighs in the balance.
Or keep to yourself, mind your own business, assume the best and stay away from your enemies the best you can… that is not what Jesus said.
Jesus said, the harvest is coming, surly. Where’s fruit? (Where’s the beef? dated, ref)
-When we gather with one another at the funeral home or around the pews at times of shared grieving, we struggle for comfort and perspective and utter questions
-As each day grows closer to the November election, the shouts and rants of politicians and publicists point rear-view fingers of blame, current insults of shame, and future dreams of promise filled salvation for those on their side. Some are compelled to take sides, while others retreat into the camps of apathy and indifference.
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ” [NRSV]
Jesus Agenda: Casting out evil, Curing the broken, and finishing his work on the third day.
- A fore telling of Jesus’ arrest, conviction and crucifixion are addressed by the disciples and Jesus.Jesus is talking back. Calling Herod by his action, a fox, cunning, callus and calculated. Skills of self preservation for the fox. Jesus’ mission, in Luke’s Gospel, requires him to be back in Jerusalem, positioned for the crucifixion.The Agenda cannot be stopped by Herod or any evil. But that will not stop evil things from happening.KEY:
God’s presence cannot be taking away, but neither are we to expect evil to disappear in the world.Prophet’s Job is Seldom Appreciated.
- Jesus points to the difficult task of being a prophet.The Prophet says nothing new. The prophet reminds us of the rails that our collective train should be running.The Prophet reminds us that God desires up to be with God.Jesus is more than any prophet. Jesus is God showing up first hand, the real deal, the actual.Jesus’s lament is how the necessary role of the prophet has never been without attack and often takes one’s life.We have at least two prophetic voices for our capital city:
I would suggest that our two leading political candidates (S&T) have tapped into the telling the people what the want to be reminded of, but their trains are running in opposing directions. Neither of them claim to be God’s prophets, but folks are desperate for a prophet and will follow until the find the prophet’s flaws or the prophet’s message becomes too personal. Mud-Slinging Campaign: (Interesting to hear from Jesus and John the Baptizer) Herod, was the secular leaders and he was a ‘fox’. The Sanhedrin were the religious leaders and they were a brood of vipers. God desires us to be together.There is a VERY powerful moment of self-disclosure and God’s heart being revealed in these words of Jesus outside of Jerusalem:The Mother Hen and her brood: How I wish my chicks would trust me. (Not just after they are in trouble, not after they are lost to evil, not just when faced with their own mortality, BUT when there was time to “walk together in the garden”) Remember the relationship with Adam and Eve, where God would walk and talk with them face-to-face, and explore the garden along side with them (Gen 3.8)The Prophets role is to remind God’s people of the relationship of Good and Evil. Helping folks remember what side of the fence they are too live.
- Are we people who put God first?Are we a people who put God 2nd or third or last?Are we people who honor our parents and their generation?Are we a people who lie, cheat, steal and murder?Are we people who choose our own agenda or God’s?Are we people who hunger and thirst to be correct or forgivenAre we people who satisfied with God or we want more?Are we people who listen to snakes and foxes?Are we people who will call out what it is evil, broken and diseased?Are we people who will turn to God or Government to define us?
These are the prophet’s questions: What are our answers?The Declaration:Blessed are those who come in the name of the Lord.
1 The old plan was only a hint of the good things in the new plan. Since that old “law plan” wasn’t complete in itself, it couldn’t complete those who followed it. No matter how many sacrifices were offered year after year, they never added up to a complete solution. 2 If they had, the worshipers would have gone merrily on their way, no longer dragged down by their sins. 3 But instead of removing awareness of sin, when those animal sacrifices were repeated over and over they actually heightened awareness and guilt. 4 The plain fact is that bull and goat blood can’t get rid of sin. 5 That is what is meant by this prophecy, put in the mouth of Christ: You don’t want sacrifices and offerings year after year; you’ve prepared a body for me for a sacrifice. 6 It’s not fragrance and smoke from the altar that whet your appetite. 7 So I said, “I’m here to do it your way, O God, the way it’s described in your Book.” 8 When he said, “You don’t want sacrifices and offerings,” he was referring to practices according to the old plan. 9 When he added, “I’m here to do it your way,” he set aside the first in order to enact the new plan – 10 God’s way – by which we are made fit for God by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus. [The Message]
1 Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who approach. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased being offered, since the worshipers, cleansed once for all, would no longer have any consciousness of sin? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God’ (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).” 8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10 And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. [NRSV]
In the Old Testament, the practice of offering God animals has shown conflicting reviews rather than answers and faithfulness.
On one hand, from earliest of stories, [Gen. 4], it is Cain and Able bring offerings to God. Cain is the farmer brings grains that he has plucked, baked or even brewed and God declares that his gift is pleasing and appropriate. Able is the herdsman brings an animal that he has butchered and brazed or barbecued and God declares that Able’s gift is dis-pleasing and inappropriate.
Able’s response to doing what God does not approve or displeased God leaves Able hurt, disappointed, feeling rejected and after internalizing all this, he becomes angry and seek revenge on Cain.. who is later killed by Able. There is a great mis-placed and mis-directed response of Able to go after Cain. Feeling rejected for doing what displease God, Able feels Cain has showed him up. Cain didn’t bring grain to make Able look bad. Able didn’t necessarily know God would be please or dis-pleased.
God makes it clear. I don’t want your animal, Able I. A nice wool sweater would be just fine or some goat cheese. Rather than Able asking God, for instructions or help or forgiveness. Able seeks revenge and resolution by his own judgment. This is his sin. (Not so much bringing the wrong gift.)
What does God want from us this Palm Sunday? Do we need to be waving palm branches high in the air? Is that what God wants from us? Maybe, but probably not if we leave the leaves by the way-side and resume speaking ill of each other. God is probably not pleased if we are interested in getting even with those who hurt us. God is not so happy when we kill someone’s spirit and joy. God is not happy when we don’t learn from our mistakes.
The Old Testament gets confusing, because several generations later sacrificing animals becomes the focal point of seasonal celebrations for God’s people. Did God suddenly change the rules and expectations? The grain, oil, perfume offerings along with the fellowship of sharing meals seems to be approved by God. The next thing you know there is an entire priestly family clan and tradition with rules that are kosher or not. There are offerings of animals for the community, the family and the individual.
Later the people are exiled in foreign lands and cannot come to the temple to worship and the animal sacrifice seems to be the exception and not the rule.
Jesus comes along and becomes the final passover lamb sacrifice that God finds pleasing.. this is my son, listen to him.
In the letter to the Hebrews, God is saying, I’ve come not only to complete my part of the work, I’m going to do it from your perspective. Jesus becomes for us the sacrifice that we need. Jesus becomes our bridge to the no-where we have created out of our sin and detachment from God.
If you look back to the Gen 4 passage, God neither asked for an offering, nor gives any instruction. Only after seeing how we respond, does he correct Able. God doesn’t want us to fix what we cannot repair.
God does not want us to play God’s part in the drama of our own lives.
God doesn’t need our blood, God has given us that life in the first place.
What does God expect, want, need, ask of us? “See I have come to do your will.”
God wants us to trust God’s system
God wants us to follow God’s lead
God wants us to ask for help and direction
God wants us to come to God first and not after we’ve tried all our other options..
But hear the Good News! God has a preference for our life. God has patience for us to find God, if we will patiently continue to seek God.
So often, we try something once or twice, if we fail we give up on it.
Try asking for help again.
Try reading the scripture with a fresh set of questions.
Try coming to the table and finding an invitation, even though we have not done what was asked.
God will teach, correct and straighten out our brokenness.. that may not be pretty no easy.
But don’t give up, Don’t judge or get even with those who have found faithfulness
God doesn’t want our bull, God wants us. Not a stand-in or replacement. God stand in the way of sin, to find us where we are.
Don’t hurt our sister or brother, just because we are able.
Easter is about raising cain… and raising all of us.
So celebrate! Now and through the Maundy and the darkness of Friday… Sunday is coming. Don’t’ give up now.
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. [NRSV]
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth 27 to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. 28 Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you. 29 She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. 30 But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: 31 You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great, be called ‘Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; 33 He will rule Jacob’s house forever – no end, ever, to his kingdom.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.” 35 The angel answered, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God. 36 “And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months’ pregnant! 37 Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say. Then the angel left her. [The Message]
When Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem, riding on a colt, on donkey, Mary must have had a flash back to the trip to Bethlehem some thirty plus years earlier. She certainly remembered that long journey with Joseph over dusty and rocky paths. It was probably a four day trip, less than 70 miles as the crow files, but closer to 90 miles on the main traveling roads. As the end of her pregnancy she and Joseph were filled with anticipation and celebration and a good dose of frustration having to travel so near to her delivery time. And now, Mary travels with a different family members, to another time of anticipation, celebration and another good dose of frustration, remembering the words the angels and Jesus foretells about coming to Jerusalem.
I invite you to join me thinking from Mary’s perspective today. She was a “ponderer.” Compare and contrast the starting point and this parade. Imagine the procession and celebration of people praising and celebrating her son. She would have been proud as any mother might be. From their humble beginnings and through difficult and threatening days, Jesus seems to coming into his own. What amazing impossibilities have become possible for Mary and her son.
Ahead of this moment of celebration, comes more impossibilities. Jesus’ last supper, capture, trial, and sentence of the death penalty. And the greatest impossibility, Easter, the resurrection. This is where we join the story for real. Not by looking back and placing ourselves in Mary’s shoes or even standing beside her, but in the unfolding of possibilities that come out of impossibilities.
What is impossible for you today? Is it physical? Is it financial? Is it relational? Is it personal and internal? Is it the juggling of all these? The message of the Angel and cousin Elizabeth, of Jesus and the disciples, of the Word lived out in our flesh… is that NOTHING is impossible for God. Everything hits impossible without God.
Remember, it is possible to eat at Christ’s table and find healing and wholeness for our broken hearts, bodies, and relationships.
Remember, it is possible to drink from Christ’s cup and find salvation, forgiveness, fresh starts for our broken trusts and broken spirits.
Remember what this bread and cup are for us.. Evidence, proof and invitation to step where we cannot walk and run where we cannot go.
God’s word that became flesh and moved in with us, continues to live that we might have a life that is full of hope and power.
What is possible for God in your heart today? What is possible for God in your home today? What is possible for God in this place today?
Don’t forget, remember and believe.
Don’t just believe, remember to live.
Hosanna, Our Saviour comes to walk with us.
20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. 27 “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—”Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. –NRSV
The Gospel of John is the last of the four Gospel penned. There were possibly 40-60 years between the time Mark’s Gospel account was written and John’s. That’s covers a great deal of history, destruction, and change in the region. John writes to give non-Jewish folks a clear path to belief through Jesus Christ.
It is therefore likely that John recounts the turning point of Jesus ministry and life. These strangers show up in town for a Greek festival and all the parties and they find their way to the Jesus gang and want to see Jesus.
Jesus clearly came, as a Jewish person, into a Jewish culture and heritage, but his message, witness and work was not only for that one people. God is interested in all our hearts.
Jesus begins talking about his death in metaphors, similes, illustrations and parables of his dying. In Luke’s Gospel, it is in the mountain foothills of Mt Nebo that Jesus gathers with his disciples in the face of numerous alters, statues and differing religious directions and asks: “Who do people say that I am?” and “Who do you say that I am?” It is when they choose Jesus and “Get-it” as we say, that he “sets his face toward Jerusalem” and the cross.
In John’s Gospel it is again in the face of religious diversity that there is a sign that turns the faith journey toward the cross and Jesus’ death.
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
But that is the part of the story we have heard and too often where we stop and dis-engage.
Verse 25 is the Sign that Jesus was Waiting to see
Verse 25 is the Urgency of the moment
Verse 25 is the Definitive Call to Action
Verse 25 is the Awesome and Weighted hinge for our Faith.
25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also
The first few verses there help us understand why Jesus must die. His life is the seed of God’s gracious work that will bear fruit in us. But the seed can’t do it’s thing if it is not buried in the ground. (Yes, I have seen the hydroponics gardens and ask you not to get lost in the image of traditional vs post modern methods of agriculture.)
Yes, Jesus’s death is transplant, swapping Christ’s life and faithfulness for our broken and sinful hearts.
But we know that part… What we slide right through on our way to Easter is this verse 25.
The love-hate relationship for our physical life verses our spiritual life. This is not a battle with the devil; the ruler of this world is no longer our nemesis.
The struggle and battle is with ourselves.
- Is it my way or God’s highway?
- Is it my stuff or God’s good gifts?
- Is it my temporary or God’s eternal?
- Am I following “I” or “I Am”? Who is leading whom?
The solution is step down from the lead, let go of the lead and follow Christ.
For some this is a relief and a release that feels like freedom. For the rest of us… it defines the struggle we must face NOW or risk loose this gift and life we talk and think instead of trust and live in with Jesus Christ. The Hour has come to take a stand by stepping down.