Following Jesus by Serving

Following Jesus by Serving

John 12:12-16 and John 13:1-20 For almost 40 days, we’ve been following Jesus.  We’ve seen how he prayed, healed, taught, forgave, and went – and we’ve worked to follow that example in our everyday lives. Today, we follow Jesus into Jerusalem… which means joining a parade. This particular parade was fit for a king.  Literally.  In the first-century Roman world, it was typical for a conqueror or king to come into a city with a big procession.  When Jesus organizes his own parade into Jerusalem, he’s making a statement:  I am your king! And the people agree with Jesus; we know by the way they respond.  They wave palm branches – “symbols of national triumph and victory” (according to Bible scholar Gail O’Day).  Waving them was a way to say, “You’re the man!”  Then, in their cheers they name explicitly what kind of man they thought Jesus was:  “Blessed is the king of Israel!” (John 12:13). On Palm Sunday we join in this parade.  We wave palm branches.  We sing “hosanna” (a kind of religious “hurrah” that originally meant something like, “Save us!”).  As we follow behind Jesus, it looks like we’re following a big celebrity – the kind of guy who rolls out his own red carpet and then struts down it, smiling and waving for the crowds. But look closer, followers of Christ.  There’s more going on here; Jesus doesn’t completely act the part. Check out Jesus’ mode of transportation.  When first-century kings rode into their cities on an animal, they typically chose an impressive warhorse.  What did Jesus pick for himself? A young donkey. It’s laughable. ...
Following Jesus by Going

Following Jesus by Going

We are followers of Christ.  Always – but especially this Lent.  Week by week we’re working on sticking close to Christ through Scripture, through the body of Christ (the church), and through the Holy Spirit.  And week by week we’re trying to better follow the example he set. Today, we take that almost literally.  We follow Christ by going. Jesus makes it clear that we’re supposed to “go” through his last words to his disciples, what we in the church often call the “Great Commission.”  The timing of these instructions reminds me of when my mom would leave me in charge of my younger brothers for a few hours.  With her body halfway out the door, she’d lean back in just far enough to deliver some most-important final instructions, like, “DO NOT jump off the dock into the bay,” or, “DO NOT eat all the ice cream.”  Here, in Matthew 28:16-20, we might picture Jesus as though he’s already halfway out the door of this world but is leaning back in for his own most-important final instructions. Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.  And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” These final...

Following Jesus in Forgiveness

We are followers of Christ.  That means we follow Jesus closely:  reading about him through Scripture, experiencing him through the body of Christ we call “church,” and walking daily with him thanks to the Holy Spirit. But following Christ doesn’t end there.  It also means following his example in our own lives by living and acting the way that he did. This week, we attempt to follow Jesus into tough territory:  forgiveness.  Jesus talked the talk about forgiveness, saying things like “forgive and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37) and that we ought to forgive the same repentant person as much as seven times in one day (Luke 17:4).  Even when he taught about prayer, it included forgiveness:  “forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive those indebted to us” (Luke 11:4). That was the talk he talked.  Jesus also walked the walk – but in that, he went the extra mile.  Jesus forgave others to a radical extent. No moment embodies that quite like today’s Scripture.  So follow me into this scene:  imagine yourself a disciple who ran away, terrified, while Jesus was betrayed and handed over and tortured and sentenced to death.  Now, as Jesus is crucified, you come back to him – trying to avoid recognition by blending into the crowd.  And this is what you see (Luke 17:32-38): Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.  When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.  Then Jesus said, “Father,...