Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Being there" for Jesus, Palm/Passion Sunday Sermon

Once again, I didn't really "write" a sermon. But here's my best account of what I said.

Scripture Readings:
Matthew 21: 1-11
Philippians 2 5-11
Matthew 26:14-27:66

I hear it all the time: "Jesus was there for me." We lean on Jesus in crucial times, and Jesus is happy for us to do this. He wants us to count on his presence and depend on him for comfort. Today is the story about how he was "there for us" in an ultimate way. He was there for his disciples, and by miraculous extension, for us, at the last supper, when he said, "This is my body. This is my blood." He was there for us as he stood before the priests and before Pilate, taking accusation after accusation in noble silence. He was there for us as he was whipped and beaten. And he was there for us hanging on the cross, mocked and desperate.

We believe that through all of this, in all of this, Jesus is there for us. He is there bearing our sin for us and giving his life as a sacrifice for our sinfulness. Any time we have a feeling of conviction for our sin, we may picture in our minds some of these events that we heard about today.

But what we heard was also a story about how Jesus' closest friends and disciples failed to "be there" for him in his hour of need. This is perhaps most poignantly described in the account of Jesus praying in the garden, and finding his disciples asleep when they are supposed to be on watch. After the Romans arrest Jesus, the disciples scatter. Later, Peter is almost outed as a disciple of Jesus and he denies any affiliation with him. In a last utterance of abandonment, Jesus cries out words from the 22nd Psalm. "My God, My God, why have you abandoned me." It seems that while Jesus is there for all of us, no one, not even God, is there for him. Why is this?

Perhaps the Gospel writer is wanting to accentuate Jesus' abandonment to give us the resolve to stand by Jesus. And the good news of the Gospel is that we can be there for Jesus.

Any time we encounter bigotry or sexism or racism, you can "be there" for Jesus. Any time you encounter someone suffering or hurting, you can "be there" for Jesus. Jesus told his disciples, "whatever you did to the least of these, you did to me." So we have an opportunity to stand in for the disciples who deny and run away and instead be there, witnessing to the Jesus who is "there" for all of us.

Thanks be to God!

1 comment:

  1. I check your sermons almost every week so a podcast would be great! If not, the notes will work...just have to have something :)