April 2, 2017 – What makes Jesus weep?

Lent 5   April 2, 2017   Psalm 130, John 11:1-46  What makes Jesus weep? ***************************************************** It’s as if Jesus is doing dress rehearsal here, as he journeys back to metro Jerusalem, where religious authorities have just been trying to kill him. Now here he is, in the Jerusalem suburb of Bethany… a few days late for a close friend’s funeral… He shows up late on purpose, we’re told, so God’s glory can be seen at work in him… (and…) Here we have the last and greatest of the seven sign-actions Jesus does, narrated  in John’s gospel. (We’ve seen him turning water into wine, healing the sick, making the lame to walk, feeding thousands from a few loaves and fishes, walking on water, giving eyesight to the blind. We’ve also been told – Jesus did many other signs not recorded in this gospel…) And all the signs together, all build to this one last, greatest sign… of raising Lazarus from the dead. Yet even reminded of someone risen from the dead today… What’s been standing out most for me in the word of God this week has been hearing that Jesus weeps… Jesus weeps with his close friends Mary and Martha of Bethany and their friends, as they weep for the death of their brother Lazarus. And here in one of the bible’s shortest verses – (in most translations its just two words –) Jesus wept – here we have one of the deepest of all the bible’s deep mysteries. Jesus knows of course that he will raise Lazarus from the dead. “This illness does not lead to death,” he’s just told his disciples. Showing up late when he hears Lazarus is ill is part of the plan, Jesus says, so God’s glory may be seen. So then – if Jesus knows, all along, he’s going to bring his friend Lazarus back to life –  why then, is he weeping? Bible scholars and interpreters through the ages have been pondering, puzzling, and arguing about this. (And there may be more than one true answer.. And we should notice… ) On one hand, the death and resurrection of Lazarus closely resembles a dress rehearsal for Jesus’ own death and resurrection soon to come. (In both the raising of Lazarus and in Jesus’ own death we hear women weeping for a loved one gone too soon. In both cases the body is sealed-tight in a tomb. In each case the stone will be rolled away – revealing life – not death. Even the descriptions of burial clothes in each case are very similar.) And with this raising of Lazarus, so much like a dress rehearsal for his own resurrection – perhaps, in some sense, also, rehearsal for the resurrection of all the dead to come… Perhaps Jesus is weeping now as he feels the intensity of this enormous drama… he’s the Center of. And at the same time… though this is like a dress rehearsal for his coming death and resurrection – this is not at all a rehearsal for Mary and Martha… And… Jesus weeping with people he loves is not so mysterious… on the most basic human level. Jesus weeps because he is compassionate. The most compassionate person who ever walked the earth. He weeps (of course) with those he loves....

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March 13, 2016 – The love of Jesus in my heart

Fifth Sunday in Lent            March 13,2016        Philippians 3:4b-14 The love of Jesus in my heart  by Isaac (Ryong Jae) Jung ******************************************************** Good morning! I am happy to be here with you today. I would like to begin with some questions. “What are you living for?” “Do you want to live happily?” “What is happiness?” “Is it to earn a lot of money?” “Is your goal to get a high position?” Where is true happiness or joy? We may not be able to find true happiness or joy in worldly things. People who have Jesus in their lives and hearts know their final goal and are able to find happiness or joy. Therefore, we need to live a fruitful and meaningful life pleasing God through Jesus. “In Jesus, I am happy.” In Jesus, there are happiness, joy, and peace that the world cannot give us. Even though we have a lot of things, learn about many things, gain worldly fame, and get high positions in life, it is not true happiness or joy without Jesus. The worldly things pass away within a short time. Do you know the song, “Gangnam Style?” Four years ago, many people enjoyed this Korean Pop song in the United States. “Gangnam Style” means a luxurious lifestyle in the Gangnam district in Seoul the Korean capital. In the car, when I heard this song on the radio and was so shocked because I heard Korean language on the U.S. radio. Whenever I met people, they were always talking about this song. The song’s music video has been viewed over 2.53 billion times on YouTube. But these days, no one mentions this song, showing that all trends, no matter how popular, pass and only the trend of Jesus will remain. However, in order to live a happy life in Jesus, there are preconditions. First, what I should give up? Things we should give up. Today’s passage in Philippians chapter 3 tells us that we need to put down most of the things that we had before believing in Jesus. Captured by self-righteousness, Apostle Paul used to cling to his own things as he had a strong pride on worldly sources before meeting Jesus. However, after meeting Jesus, he put down those things. He was considered faultless because he was a Roman citizen, who had tremendous privilege and received envy from others. Coming from a good background and being loyal to Judaism, he thought that people who believed in Jesus were heretic and took the lead in catching Christians. However, after meeting Jesus, everything changed. According to research of church history, Apostle Paul lived 60 years. He lived in his own self-righteous and self-centered life for 30 years, but confessed that he was satisfied only by Jesus and lived a life for Jesus for the remaining 30 years. He devoted his remaining life to carry out God’s work as he traveled to spread the gospel. He even wrote or influenced 14 out of 27 books of the New Testament. Knowledge of Jesus is not obtained through studying but by the Spirit. We need to experience the love of Jesus and meet him as our lives will be changed. When we meet Jesus and have fellowship, it is not us who live but Jesus who lives in us....

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March 22, 2015 – We wish to see Jesus

John 12:20-33 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.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.   “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. *** Lent 5 March 22, 2015   (Psalm 23, Jer 31:31-34, Heb 5:5-10)   John 12:20-33 We wish to see Jesus ************************************* I’ve known some people who say they read the obituaries in the newspaper, first thing, every morning, ‘just to see’ (they often say) ‘if I’m still alive.’ And I remember talking with a former parishioner in Vermont, about her grandfather, whose ashes we were preparing to lay to rest in a hillside cemetery… As we drove along, going to the cemetery, she was telling me about her grandfather, highlights of his life, what a lively, interesting, sometimes colorful man he’d been…Telling me how she’d been his care giver… Then, as we drove along, telling how, once, just before he passed away, her grandfather woke in the middle of the night, looked over to her, and asked – “Am I dead yet?” “Not yet,” she told him. “You’re still here with me… and I’m still here with you…” Now here’s Jesus, telling us he’s heading on into his death today – and if we’re his followers, we’re heading there with him. Yet almost all-in-one-breath, he also tells us – as long as you’re with me – I’ll be with you – and together we’ll live forever… And sometimes I wonder – “Are we there yet?” *** Some Greeks from afar are in Jerusalem for a religious festival, as we pick up in the story today, and they come to the disciples, saying “we wish to see Jesus.” Back in John chapter 1, we’ve heard Jesus tell a pair of his first followers – who’ve asked him where he’s staying – “come and see.” Then another follower of Jesus calls still another, to come, meet Jesus,...

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April 6, 2014 – Fifth Sunday in Lent

Lent 5   April 6, 2014   John 11:1-46 (see below)    Take away the stone ******************************* Jesus receives a message from beloved friends, Mary and Martha, saying their brother Lazarus is seriously ill. But Jesus tarries…We’re told Jesus loves Martha, Mary and Lazarus – love is not the issue – but still Jesus takes his time, waiting another two days before starting on his journey.  Not exactly what I’d hope for, if I were Mary or Martha. But Jesus isn’t asking me. And Jesus surely seems to see life from a rather different perspective… Notice, for example, how Mary is introduced – as “the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair” – even though that hasn’t happened yet, and won’t til the next chapter. (Reminding us we’re still on Jesus Standard Time.) It’s maybe a little strange also that Lazarus, the one dying, is introduced merely as brother of Mary and Martha. His character’s never developed, not even a little in the telling of the story. Probably to let us know the story isn’t about Lazarus, whose name means ‘God helps.’ By the time Jesus shows up, brother Lazarus has been dead four days –  and it’s looking kind of late even for God to help. But again, we’re in Jesus Standard Time… And Jesus isn’t even asking about the brother’s faith. He does ask Martha if she believes. Martha has perhaps been letting her disappointment with Jesus show, as she says, “Lord if you’d been here my brother wouldn’t have died.” On the other hand, she also says, “even now I know God will give you whatever you ask.” And Jesus affirms her faith as he tells her, “your brother will rise again.” “I know he’ll rise again in the resurrection on the last day,” Martha says. Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life – and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord, I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God,” Martha says. She indeed has strong faith. Yet still not the fullness of faith Jesus is looking for. *** Jesus does a series of seven signs in John’s gospel. He heals a crippled man in chapter 5, multiplies loaves and fishes in chapter 6, gives sight to a man born blind (chapter 9). Each sign is called a sign (rather than a miracle) because with each sign Jesus also gives some theology afterwards, to help us unpack what he’s done. This time, though, it’s not show and tell but – tell and show. This time Jesus gives theology first, then the sign to illustrate. Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life.” Martha already believes the resurrection part – believes her brother will rise again on the last day. But Jesus wants us to know – yes, he’s the resurrection – and – also the life. The abundant life – life eternal – Jesus gives begins the moment we believe. Jesus wants us to know this – now. We’ve entered life eternal as soon as we’ve first believed. Which changes our present lives dramatically. Like Mary, who is introduced with a reference to what she will do later on, in the future – we too should be known...

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