You Are Go-ers and Tell-ers of Jesus

Luke 7:18-35

You can read the sermon below or watch it here:

https://www.facebook.com/laura.aase/videos/10158195943135564/

I have ended up having 3 words that won’t leave me alone so far this year. I didn’t sit down to figure it out, planning to have 3 words to focus on for the year. They came about in the midst of prayer in my writing to God. They are: Remember; Fear Not; and Sing! (Just pretend fear not is one word.) And, what I’ve come to discover is that the first word is the foundation for the other two. Because when I remember that I am a child of God, then I will face my fears fully immersed in this identity and I will be able to sing loud and clear about who God is and what God is doing.

I imagine these words have come to be with me this year because I forget. Often. I forget who I belong to and how that shapes me, inside and out. I forget the story of God and believe the story of the world.

We all need to belong – it’s human nature. A sense that we belong helps us know what our purpose is for living, helps us get out of bed each day. Yet, there is a distinct difference between belonging and trying to fit in. True belonging is being valued for who you are and what you bring to the group, to your family, to the world. Fitting in, on the other hand, is all about shape shifting into who the group or the world thinks you ought to be.

John the Baptist is questioning some big things today. Perhaps he is wondering if he still belongs, what his purpose is. After all, he is in jail, locked up for offending King Herod, who he dared question on the merits of marrying his brother’s wife while his brother was still alive. John has time on his hands now to contemplate his life which has been one dedicated to pointing to Jesus, preparing the way for Jesus, prophesying. He has time to get stuck in his head over and over in his dark prison cell. This is what happens when you spend your life pointing to Jesus, preparing for Jesus, following Jesus? Jail?

Go and ask Jesus, John says, are you the one, or do we need to wait for another?

Was I wrong? Did I get it wrong? Which is a dangerous question to then send with those who are following you. Questioning your own message?  Hey guys, will you go ask Jesus if this is all just a sham?

Can you feel the weight of those words? Just imagine those words in the mouth of a foster child, arriving at her fifth foster home in three years. Are you the one I’ve been waiting for, or should I wait for another? Imagine those words in the mouth of a woman whose miscarried 14 times, only to hear that this embryo has held on…for now. Are you the one I’ve been waiting for…

That is the weight of the hurt and the disappointment and the fear and the uncertainty in John’s words. John who has held Jesus in his hands, looked Jesus in the eyes, even heard the voice of God proclaiming Jesus as God’s son. But that’s how dark this prison cell is. You forget and you doubt the things that have been most loudly proclaimed to you.

We know what that’s like. To be in a place of such darkness and brokenness and despair and insecurity that we start to doubt the things that have been loudly proclaimed over us – that we are loved,… that we are valuable, that what we do matters to this world.

[*]In prison times of our life, we can forget the very ingredients of life that have been given to us, that are necessary for life. People say you need water to live – the same is true about love. Without it to give and receive, we grow cold. The same is true about purpose. Without purpose to get us out of bed to face the world each morning, we whihter away.

So, yes, we can feel the weight of John’s words. We get his full-throated question because we have asked it ourselves.[1]

Are you the one, Jesus, or do we need to wait for another?

The way Jesus answers John is remarkable.  Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them.

His answer to John is not an indictment of John’s lack of faith. His answer to John is not about John not getting it right, telling him he no longer belongs to the Jesus club. His answer to John is, well, not about John. Jesus’ answer to John is about Jesus. It’s about what Jesus has done, will do, is doing. And it’s about telling others what they’ve actually seen and experienced.

Which means Jesus entrusts his reputation, his identity to us. To you and to me. To dare to tell others what we’ve seen, what we’ve experienced. To dare to see Jesus alive and well in daily life.

I believe that each of you here is adored by Jesus. Chosen by Jesus. That Jesus is crazy in love with you. You belong to Jesus. And we gather here to practice what it means to follow a savior out into our daily lives. We gather here to remember so that we can face our fear and then sing out and live out this faith. Like we actually believe that this story of God is our story to be lived here and now. We gather here to remember that we are sent out to tell others that the blind can see, the lame can walk, the deaf can hear, the dead are raised, and the poor get the best news brought to them by us.

Jesus says go and tell. That’s what we are to do. We are not to resume our lives as normal after this gathering. John ended up in jail. How will following Jesus get you into hot water? Because it just might. What’s at stake in this for you?

Is Jesus the one you’ve been waiting for? I guess that depends on what you’ve been waiting for.

Jesus tells us what it looks like: the dead will be raised, the blind will see, the lame will walk, the poor will get the Good News. And then he says to us, “go and tell.” What will you tell about the love of God through Jesus? Will you tell those in authority, like John did with Herod, that our Christian beliefs always have us turned toward the stranger, the other, the alien, the refugee? Will you go and tell your representatives that the world’s most vulnerable, the millions fleeing from violence, the great exodus of our time, need a home and that America simply cannot be closed to them. Will you go and tell the world that white supremacy is not the law of our land and will you persist when you’ve been told to be quiet?

Go and tell the world that Jesus raises the dead, heals the sick, and brings good news to the poor. It is your purpose. It’s your identity. Go and tell. What are you waiting for?

 

 

[1] These few paragraphs are from my friend, Jon Davis’ sermon https://jdshankles.wordpress.com/2016/12/12/sunday-december-11th-2016-sermon-on-matthew-112-11-and-isaiah-351-10/  You should go and read it. It’s really good.

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