Sermon: Lent 5 RCL B – “We Would See Jesus”

lookingA police officer pulled a driver aside and asked for his license and registration. “What’s wrong, officer,” the driver asked. “I didn’t go through any red lights, and I certainly wasn’t speeding.”

“No, you weren’t,” said the officer, “but I saw you waving your fist as you swerved around the lady driving in the left lane, and I further observed your flushed and angry face as you shouted at the driver of the Hummer who cut you off, and how you pounded your steering wheel when the traffic came to a stop near the bridge.”

“Is that a crime, officer?”

“No, but when I saw the ‘Jesus loves you and so do I’ bumper sticker, the I “Heart” Jesus window decal, not to mention the “Clergy” license plate bracket on the car, I figured this car had to be stolen.”

The gift of sight is truly something most of us probably take for granted. A visit with someone who is losing or lost their sight or perhaps has never been able to see is a true reminder of what a blessing vision is. However, vision is not just about functioning eyes. An ophthalmologist from New York reports, “The eye doesn’t see. The brain sees. The eye just transmits. So what we see isn’t only determined by what comes through the eye. What we see is affected by our memories, our feelings, and by what we’ve seen before.” (http://www.humansofnewyork.com/post/88035814941/were-eye-doctors-whats-something-about-the)

From our Gospel reading today: “Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’”

The life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus occurred about 2,000 years ago, yet today, people are still making that same request. “We wish to see Jesus,” but when they ask, they aren’t asking Philip and Andrew to show them Jesus, instead they are asking you. “___, we wish to see Jesus.” “___, we wish to see Jesus.” We are each identified as followers of Christ, disciples of Jesus, therefore when the world wishes to see Him, they look to us. So, who do they see? What do they learn of Jesus by looking at us? Remember the words of the ophthalmologist said, “What we see is affected by our memories, our feelings, and by what we’ve seen before.” What do they see of Jesus when they think of us or what kind of response do they have when they recall an encounter with us?

Brennan Manning states, “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. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” And it was D. L. Moody who wrote, “Of one hundred men, one will read the Bible; the ninety-nine will read the Christian.”

Here’s a test: If you were put on trial for being a Christian and you couldn’t say a word, would there be enough evidence to convict you, or would we all end up like the fella who got pulled over by the policeman who thought the car was stolen?

In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus says, “You are the light of the world… let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

St. Peter draws on this same thought in his first epistle, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.… Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

You are “the light of the world,” “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession,” which means that your life is a testimony on the nature and goodness of God.

When the world comes to us and says, “We would see Jesus,” we are to show them God. And they’re not looking for lip service and a pat on the head. They’re looking for a God that parts the sea, feeds the 5,000, gives sight to the blind, and heals the sick. And if that weren’t enough, they are looking for the God that raises the dead. The really scary part is that when the world goes looking for that God, they’re going to look to you to show Him to them. So, what are you going to do about it?

Bill has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He is brilliant. Kinda esoteric and very, very bright. He became a Christian while attending college.

Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church. They want to develop a ministry to the students, but are not sure how to go about it. One day Bill decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started and so Bill starts down the aisle looking for a seat.

The church is completely packed and he can’t find anywhere to sit. By now people are looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. Bill gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit and when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet. (Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, trust me, this had never happened in this church before!) By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick.

About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward Bill. Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, a three-piece suit, and a pocket watch. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly.

He walks with a cane and as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves, You can’t blame him for what he’s going to do. How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid that looks like a rag-a-muffin sitting on the floor in the middle of the aisle?

It takes a long time for the deacon to reach the boy. The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the cane. All eyes are focused on the deacon. You can’t even hear anyone breathing. The people are thinking, The minister can’t even preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do. And now they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor.

With great difficulty he lowers himself and sits down next to Bill and worships alongside him so he won’t be alone.

Fr. John, that’s a nice story, but you just told us that when folks come to us asking to see Jesus, they are going to want to see someone walking on the water. It’s true. They are. But when they come – and they will – you are going to show them something far greater than anything they could have ever imagined to ask for. You are going to show them the love of God. If God the Father needs you to walk on water, then you’re going to walk on the water, but what He needs from you more than anything else is for you to stretch out your hands in love to the world, just as he stretched out his hands in love on the hard wood of the Cross.

The miracle is not the water turning to wine. The miracle is the heart that turns to God and is transformed into His image.

Last week we concluded with these statements: First, Jesus declares, “Your sins are forgiven.” Second, when asked what those sins were, Jesus replies, “I don’t remember.” Finally, Jesus says, “I dare you to trust that I love you.”

To be the Light of the World is to show the world the love of God when they come to you and say, “We would see Jesus.” To be the Royal Priesthood is to say to them, “Your sins are forgiven. They are remembered no more. I dare you to trust that you are loved by God.”

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