Sunday, April 28, 2013

Jesus, Well Maker

Fifth Sunday of Easter
Luke 5:12-26, Jesus heals a man with leprosy, Jesus forgives and heals a paralyzed man.

 "Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy" is the section title in NIV... better language than "Jesus Heals a Leper" (Think about it... would you rather be a something, or a person with a condition?)

What is leprosy, more importantly what are effects?
   various skin diseases, caused leper to exist outside society. 
No normal life. Shout “unclean” from a distance.

Can you imagine a condition that cut you off?
        AIDS. Ostracized from society.

• Who initiates event? The man with leprosy. The man. Must’ve heard reputation. Placed faith in Jesus. The man approaches IN TOWN (against the rules? Or otherwise not where he’s sposed to be).

If you want, you can make me clean.

• And Jesus touches.
What happens when you touch a leper? Beyond the oogyfactor, you are rendered unclean. And not only does Jesus tell the man to follow the law of Moses, but Jesus himself ends up… in a deserted place… where the leper should be.

As Jesus makes the man well, he bears the consequences of the man’s condition.

 What does this passage tell us about Jesus?
How completely does Jesus enter into the mess of our lives?
- Enough to touch an unclean leper, make him well, and take his place among the unclean.
- Enough to wash the feet of his disciples. Even his betrayer.
- Enough to enter humanity, suffer death on a cross, bear the consequence of our sin… the gospel story in miniature.

I sometimes say "I love you and there’s nothing you can do about it…"
but that’s a shadow of what Jesus says and does.

Nothing you can do about it…
 …except live for him.

• Saving Private Ryan (1998)
At the end of Saving Private Ryan (1998) Matt Damon’s character, Private Ryan, visiting the grave of Captain John Miller, who died saving Ryan’s life… (Earn this)
“My family is with me today. They wanted to come with me. To be honest with you, I wasn't sure how I'd feel coming back here. Every day I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I've earned what all of you have done for me.”

• Closing song: Every Day it’s You I live for… I stand upon your word

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Go Fish

from Luke 5:1-11, Jesus teaches the people from Peter's boat, there is a miraculous catch of fish, Jesus calls Peter to be a "fisher of people"

You know the card game Go Fish? You’re looking for cards to build sets in your hand. You ask other players if they have something, if they do, they give to you, if they don’t, you “go fish”. (talk strategy... You can't just ask the same question again and again, but you also can't say "I asked that question once and it didn't work")

Jesus is looking to build a good hand. People crowd around to listen to him, and he wants to build his team up. Imagine Jesus playing Go Fish…

“Do you have any with college degrees?” (No, Jesus. Go Fish…)
“Do you have any that know the Bible backward and forward?” (
No, Jesus. Go Fish…)
“…with great teeth?” (
No, Jesus. Go Fish…)
“…that don’t smell like fish?” (No, Jesus. Go Fish…)

(from Ray Vander Laan's In the Dust of the Rabbi) Being a rabbi’s disciple was a big deal… and Peter, Andrew, James, John… they hadn’t made any other rabbi’s cut. They weren’t first draft picks, or second draft picks… for anybody. But Jesus chooses them from the leftovers.

You can walk away from Jesus saying “I won’t be a disciple” but you can’t walk away from Jesus saying “I CAN’T be a disciple… because Jesus is saying I believe in you. I choose you. Follow me.

• By the way, what’s astounding about this passage? The catch of fish… And do you notice when it occurs? When Peter does something he’s already been doing… after listening to Jesus’ teaching. “We tried that before and it didn’t work” doesn’t work. What works is listening to Jesus and then doing.

• What’s this passage say about Jesus?

- People want to listen to him. (verse 1, crowd pressed around)
- People DO listen to him. (verse 5, Peter says okay, even though they’ve already tried that)… (Jesus’ teaching is powerful)
- Jesus has long-range vision for people – sees beyond the current circumstances.

• What’s this passage say about people? About us?

- Jesus works with what we have (we don’t have to come to Jesus as scholars and as all already put together)
- Jesus wants to be in relationship, even if we’re broken. (imagine what it took for Peter to make his confession before Jesus and others)… Come to think of it, Peter demonstrates a kind of humility here that may indeed be very necessary… Paul tells us in 2Cor12:9 that God’s power is made perfect in [our] weakness… when we move ourselves out of the center, God can do God’s best in us.

• Jesus wants you to be involved in discipleship… in learning from the master, with the goal of teaching for the master.

Jesus can use you.
What will you let stop you?

• Hymn insert Go Make of All Disciples

Sunday, April 14, 2013


from Luke 4:31-44. Jesus rebukes an unclean spirit, Jesus rebukes a fever, Jesus teaches and heals, Jesus goes to other towns.

• Today’s scripture, today’s interaction with Jesus,
Four vignettes @ undeniable power of God in Jesus.

• Last week we talked about the importance of being plugged in. This week plugged in continues. Some results of Jesus’ being plugged in: 
1) J’s teaching is authoritative. Ppl are amazed. Ppl follow at all hours. 
2) Spirits recognize Jesus (James 2:19: Even demons believe there is one God – and they shudder!); Jesus exorcises. 
3) Jesus heals. 
4) Jesus goes. 

Undeniable that Jesus is Son of God, Messiah.

Worth noting that the healings and exorcisms are connected to Jesus’ teaching: the power of Jesus’ words is affirmed and demonstrated in his works.

• Also worth noting how Jesus’ healings and exorcisms restore people to dignity. Uncleanness to cleanness sans injury. Fevered and unable to host to ability to host.
Ppl are transformed through his teaching.

• 1988 movie Stand and Deliver Edward James Olmos plays Bolivian math teacher Jaime Escalante in late 70s Los Angeles. Escalante took risks and got involved in students' lives, pouring himself into his students… he believed in them and taught algebra and eventually calculus to poorly performing students, raising some to heights never considered. He taught with authority, and people were transformed.

• A take-home from this scripture, today’s interaction with Messiah, is, while remaining plugged in, to take risks, to be involved in lives and teach, to be involved in restoration of dignity and transformation of lives, and to carry that gospel into world.

We need teachers, and we need witnesses

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle,” Brennan Manning has said. “That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

“I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.” - John Wesley

• Hymn 473 Victory in Jesus

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Come in, or Get out?

from Luke 4:14-30, Jesus is rejected in Nazareth

• Jesus was in home town. We have a little insight into his faith practice and his quality as a teacher. I can hear the excitement of the leadership at the Nazareth synagogue, knowing that Jesus is going to speak: “Come in! It’s Joseph and Mary’s boy, we’ve heard good things, COME IN!”

There was excitement at his reading of Isaiah 61… it’s one thing to have a local brush with fame (a friend of mine won a few gold medals in the Olympics in 92) but this is a little bigger, this passage is about Messiah! God’s very own anointed one, from our little community!! Hugs are exchanged, people hand out cigars, not only is promise of God to be fulfilled, it’s one of us.

• Recall this passage follows temptation by Satan in the wilderness… I don’t think it’d be far off base to call this a fourth temptation… Receive our praises, fulfill our expectations…

• But Jesus knows his calling, remains true to it, (why? Because he’s got the power of the Spirit. Conceived by Spirit, born under Spirit, announced by Spirit, baptized by Spirit, upheld by Spirit in the wilderness…)

(by the way, What’s stronger than Holy Spirit? People. People have the power to resist Spirit. (see Matt 13:58) )

Jesus hears their accolades and knows their expectations about Messiah to vanquish the Gentiles and restore Israel… this is what they’ve been taught, this is an expectation they cling to. 
But their interpretation, their teaching, is off. 
God will be fulfilling promise, yes, but not in a way they’re expecting. 
God’s power was demonstrated by Elijah with a Gentile widow (not Israel). 
God’s power was demonstrated by Elisha with a Gentile MILITARY COMMANDER.

• And the people get upset. 
Matthew 13 reports they were offended. WE’RE the ones slated to receive blessing, not them!  
Here in Luke they’re enraged and they seek to kill Jesus. 
CHURCH PEOPLE, mind you, seeking to kill Jesus. Church people who two sentences ago were clapping one another on the back celebrating him.

• And I wonder why. And I think it has to do with not being plugged in right.

Power steering… ever go out? You can be doing all the right things but if that power isn’t plugged in right, you’re suddenly fighting hard, and you immediately lose focus.
I think that’s what happened here.

The people of the synagogue were so focused on what they expected God to do that when God came along and didn’t fit their bill they wanted to clear the space for God to do it right (their way).

If you’re dead set on your expectation, and someone challenges it, walls go up. And it’s because of pride. 
If you’re plugged in right, if your pride is in the right place (humble before God) and God begins to do something different, it’s easier to say “you go, God, I’m with you. I wasn’t expecting that, but not my will but thine.” 
Whose church is it? Whose glory? When we give tithes and offerings, remember, we are returning to God what is his…

• What’s it look like to be plugged in right? 
Daily decision. In Word, in worship, in fellowship, in study, in service. Pray God show me what you want me to do. Jesus, be Lord and master in my life, you take the spotlight, you set my priorities. Open my heart to learn, set my pride aside.

• Where’d he go at the end of this episode? Tune in next week. 
And in the meanwhile examine what it means for Christ to be Lord in your life. 
Examine the connections you have with God and with the folks in the church. 
Examine whether you’re motivated by pride or personal glory or how freely you can step aside for God to do what God will do… 
Consider, when you encounter Jesus, whether you’ll ask him to come in or get out.
give the glory to God…

• Hymn 227 Thine Is the Glory