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,...
Following Jesus in Teaching

Following Jesus in Teaching

This Lent we’re following Jesus.  We’re following him by getting close to him:  carefully listening to the stories about what he did, imagining we were there with him.  Then, we’re following the example we’ve seen – putting his actions into our everyday lives. Today, we follow Jesus as he teaches. A few of you brave souls are living into this part of Jesus’ example by your profession.  You prepare lessons and head into a classroom full of students every day.  And some of you brave souls are teachers by volunteerism:  you come to a classroom full of students here at church once a week.  The rest of us don’t carry the official title, but that doesn’t mean we’re not teachers, too.  Teaching is the act of helping someone else learn something, and that’s something we all do. We teach our children how to walk and talk and use a Kleenex instead of picking their noses.  We teach our friends about the book we just read; we teach our relatives about great-grandma’s chicken casserole; we teach our buddy a new grip to try for his golf swing; we teach our coworkers about a shortcut to the office.  As we gain information, we want to share it – especially the information we find most important. Yes, we are all teachers.  Whether or not we are effective teachers – that is debatable. I bet you’ve been on the receiving end of some ineffective “teaching” moments.  Like: …you’re not in a classroom, but you’re being lectured as though you were a student… …you know you’re right but you’re being told you’re wrong anyway…...

Following Jesus in Healing

During this season of Lent, we are following Christ. Well, we should always be following Christ:  following him by staying close to him, and following him by following his example.  In the first century the disciples did this by walking with Jesus, seeing what he did, and then mimicking his behaviors.  Here in the twenty-first century we can’t literally follow Jesus around, so we do it by reading about him through Scripture and experiencing him through the Holy Spirit.  Then, like good disciples, we can mimic the behaviors we’ve “seen.” This Lent we at Andrews UMC are taking our role as followers of Christ very seriously.  We’re following Jesus through a careful look at the things he frequently did and we’re discovering ways to mimic those behaviors. On this second Sunday of Lent we look at something Jesus did a lot: Healing. Wanna see for yourself?  Open up the gospel of Mark.  You’ll find the first healing at 1:21, then another starting at 1:29, and others at 1:32, and 1:40, and 2:1… I think you get the drift. Today we follow Jesus as he heals a leper and a paralytic.  We watch closely to see what he did… so we can act similarly. First, Mark 1:40 – 45:  Jesus heals a leper.  A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.”  Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!”  Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.  After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to...