God's Word: Live It!

On the side of...

Yesterday we walked the familiar path into Jerusalem waving our palms and singing our praises. All glory, laud and honor was shouted out to Jesus as we walked into the sanctuary to continue worshiping Jesus. What we found out is the Gospel of Matthew identifies two crowds following Jesus. One, the country bumpkins with nothing to lose are more than ready to worship Jesus as the Messiah. The second crowd is more skeptical. City folk, close to the temple, more sophisticated in their understanding of Torah. They wonder about the carpenter from Nazareth and how he can possibly be The Messiah.

In effect, it is we who are the two crowds. On the one hand, often in time of need or desperation we are more than willing to cling to Jesus as our Lord and Savior. On the other, we wonder about his usefulness in our lives. We have developed sophisticated ways to exclude Jesus, relying instead on social media, wealth management and politicians to meet our needs. Prayer? It depends on which crowd we are in, the needy outliers, or the busy and entitled.

Along with our two-sided attitude toward Jesus comes our two-sided discipleship. As we move along this Holy Week we will watch Jesus’ disciples go from adoration to complete abandonment. When he turns out to be exactly who he said he was, the Prince of Peace, the conscientious objector, the pacifist, everybody bails out. When discipleship gets hard, i.e. loving our enemies, turning the other cheek, giving half of what we have away, it is our inclination to question Jesus authority in our lives. When Jesus seems to be answering our prayers, we tend to hop on the Jesus train. This is our constant vigilant battle between our two selves. The question is always there. Do we believe or not? We’ll find out something about ourselves this week. Will we walk with Jesus all the way to the cross? Or, will we bail and show up on Easter after the gruesome cost for our souls has been paid for?  The Good News is Jesus is going into Jerusalem and head for the cross whether we believe in him or not. That’s why at least a part of us sings about him as “ our Redeemer King.”

The Jesus in all of us

Yesterday, we eavesdropped on an encounter between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. We learned that Jesus was not only breaking serious social mores by speaking with her (gender and religious as well as social) but he was seeking a new disciple. She is a woman, who through no fault of her own, has been rejected in marriage multiple times. She represents those who are cast aside, ignored for reasons beyond their control such as race, religion, gender, culture, disabilities, human beings often not treated equally and completely ignored. 

This does not work for Jesus. He is in the world to save the world and by world he means exactly that. He considers everyone a child of his Father and everyone gets noticed by him. Women, widows, orphans, disabled, possessed, poor, rich, foreigners, everybody. That, thank God, includes us as well. We are all different, we all have sins, we all have secrets. We’ve hurt and we’ve been hurt. We lie and we’ve been lied to and lied about. We are united in our brokenness and our need for Jesus’ healing touch. 

Jesus didn’t talk about making disciples, he showed us how. It is a matter of engaging and lifting up the humanity in the people we encounter. It means getting to know the name of the mentally challenged bagger at the grocery store and thanking them by name. It means dropping a couple of quarters into the Styrofoam cups held in the crusty hands of the homeless and then giving them a blessing and saying a prayer for them as we drive away. There is Jesus in all of us and there is enough of him to spread around. Be on the lookout for someone who needs to hear his name and encounter him through you. Your voice, your touch, sharing your pain or taking some of theirs. Jesus hints they may not look like us “for Samaritans and Jews had nothing in common” and that is precisely the time to bring the love. Go forth. Someone needs the Jesus in you.

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