pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Saints

Reading: Luke 6: 17-30

Today is All Saints Day, a day when we remember the saints of old and the saints of today.  We picture the saints of old as grand people, depicted in portraits.  We think of the apostles, the early church leaders, the famous writers, and of people like Luther and Calvin and John Wesley.  In more recent times we think of Mother Teresa.

In our passage today, Jesus speaks to his disciples in a direct and personal way.  He tells them of times when they are blessed and of times when woes befall them.  These two opposites run in parallel tracks in the first part of the passage.  One can almost think in terms of heavenly and earthly.  The blessings come with future gains.  The woes come with trial and suffering.  These verses imply the reward of following Jesus’ example and the cost of not doing so.  The passage then concludes with words of how to love, pray for, and treat our enemies well followed by how to be generous in our giving.

Jesus is spelling out that the life of a saint will be hard and costly.  It is one more way of telling us that to follow Jesus is difficult for the way is narrow.  It is reminding us that to follow is to walk a road that will challenge our human instincts to be powerful and popular and self-centered.  Instead, Jesus calls us to be with those who are poor, who hunger, who weep, and who are hated.  He calls us to suffer alongside them, just as He did.  By being present to those in need or in trial we offer them Jesus.  It is through this presence that they are blessed.

We do not like to think of followers of Jesus as saints.  That seems like lofty ground.  But in this passage, we see that loving those in need, working to relieve suffering, and offering all we can is a worthy calling.  It is our call as followers of Jesus Christ.  Just as we look back on the saints of old as examples for how they lived out their faith, we too are called to do the same.  We too are called to model Christian discipleship for those in our lives.  May we each shine Jesus’ light today.


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Reading: John 10: 22-30

The Jews in the temple ask Jesus a question I think we ask often.  We may not always ask it verbally but I think we certainly do with our decisions and actions.  They ask Jesus if he is the Messiah.  Is he the one coming to redeem Israel, to restore them to their rightful place amongst the great nations?  They are looking for Jesus to do something grand.

His response perplexes: “You do not believe because you do not belong to my sheep”.  Believe that you are the Messiah?  I’m sure they are thinking something along these lines: ‘Rid us of these Romans and make Israel great and then we will believe and then we will follow.  For now though, we’ll just do our own thing.  Yes it is nice that that guy can now walk and that that guy can see and that you fed all those people.  Really neat stuff (for them), but when will you really start leading, doing really important stuff (for us)?’

We are sometimes a lot like them.  Yes Jesus, I love you and believe in you and want to dedicate my life to you, but first I need to…  Yes Jesus, I will serve and follow you, but first would you…  We like Jesus, but too often on our terms and conditions.  Like the Jews in the temple that day, we expect or maybe even demand something grand from Jesus.  Then we will be all in.  Then…

And Jesus says to us: my sheep follow me.  It is not about what I can do for you.  It’s about what I do to you, about what I do in you.  The miracles, they just show that I am who I say I am: the Son of God, the Word made flesh.  Follow me, be my sheep, do what I did: love, serve, sacrifice, forgive.  The you will be my sheep.  Then you will know a peace that passes understanding.  Then you will begin to live eternal life.  Follow me.