Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sermon for 12/16/12

Sermon: “Go Tell Johnny” Grace and Peace to you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. The time is coming, truly coming. It’s almost here. It’s about time to start baking cookies, or maybe even getting late, as some of the cookie exchanges are already happening. I’ve heard people talking about the size of turkey they have, how many people will be there for a Christmas dinner, and I know for a fact that the season of present-shaking has begun. The time is coming. What do you suppose you’re getting? Or maybe you’ve been busy wrapping things up and have started asking yourself what something might be in this or that package that you wrapped, because you don’t quite remember what it is. There’s something in that package. You know it’s going to be good. But maybe you start wondering if you’re going to have what you wanted. Maybe, like me, you put some things on a wish list a long time ago and don’t remember what they were. Or you think maybe you were vague about something you should have been more specific about. One person in my family wanted “flavored coffee, not hazelnut.” One wanted “flavored coffee, hazelnut.” What about the person who just said “flavored coffee”? I don’t want to disappoint someone. What flavor? The anticipation can create delight. But it can also create some anxiety. I’m this way when a family member goes to the doctor. I know it’s a routine checkup, but I wonder, what is that doctor going to find? Is something unexpected going to happen? What about those dread diseases with few warning signs? They run the routine blood culture and say they will get back with you in a few days. I always get nervous. Some of you do also. Some with reason. The future is full of unknowns. Some of them are a lot more pleasant than others. Some of them are downright frightening. In the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 7, John the Baptizer, Jesus’ cousin, sends a couple of his disciples to check on Jesus. Maybe John isn’t sure what will happen. He wanted to see Jesus coming to rescue his nation from all its enemies. He was looking for a person to come as a king. And as we’ve seen lately, Jesus doesn’t always seem very kingly. He comes as a humble donkey-rider. He walks around with his disciples, not keeping all the trappings of a superhero anointed deliverer. So what should we think? Are you the one we are looking for, or should we just be glad you’re here but look for some other Messiah? What can we expect? What does the lab test say? What’s in the package? (long pause) (longer pause) Anticipation can be frustrating, can’t it? (long pause) Jesus doesn’t answer either, does he? Or maybe he does. “At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind” (Luke 7:21, ESV). What kind of an answer is that? “I’ll tell you what, Johnny, while you are waiting around, I’ll just do some of my work. I’m going to heal some of these people, a whole lot of them. I’m going to give them a life that they could never hope for. Is that enough of a sign for you?” What do you think? Is this enough of a sign? Jesus comes to us as the Messiah who is able to heal all sorts of diseases, give sight to the blind, and even chase away evil spirits. That’s pretty good, pretty good. But what about the people who are healthy? What about the people who seem to be doing all right? What kind of deliverer do they get? It’s a good idea to give them an answer also. So what should we tell Johnny? What answer can he have? Luke 7:22-23 (ESV) says, “So he replied to the messengers, ‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.’” What do we tell Johnny? There’s more healing going on than you see. Not only are people who are sick with something being healed. Jesus says he is in the business of resurrection as well. He is the one who will take all who believe and raise them from death itself, body and soul, putting that which is dead back together again alive. He’s also the one who is giving good news to the poor. What’s in the lab report? You are fine. By God’s grace, as you trust in him, no matter what happens to you in this world, you are fine. You know someone in the business of resurrection. Johnny, even if some arrogant ruler decides to remove your head with a sword, you’ll still be fine. I’m the one who can put you back together again, and make your head work like it never did before in all your life. That’s what’s in the lab report. What’s in that package you’ve been wondering about? All the forgiveness, life, and salvation that you could ever need or want. In Me, Jesus says, you are perfectly whole, perfectly safe, and you are headed for eternal, conscious, joy and bliss. That’s what’s in the box. You asked for a new pair of socks. I’ll give you true life. How’s that for a deal? And I bet someone will give you some socks too. Go tell Johnny that Jesus is exactly the one you should be looking for. Jesus is exactly the one you need. Jesus is exactly the one you can depend on, day in, day out. Go tell Johnny. That’s what you tell him. Now, I don’t know who you might be. You might be Johnny yourself. You might be one of the disciples who can go tell him the message Jesus has. You might be someone who is hanging around near the disciples pretending not to listen. You might be one of the people who wasn’t sent by Johnny but who knows someone a lot like Johnny, someone who is lacking in faith, lacking in hope, who thinks there’s something good, bad, or indifferent in the package called the Church, in the package called Jesus. You are the perfect messenger for someone. What are you going to tell Johnny? Tell him that in Jesus there dwell all the riches of the Godhead bodily, like we see in Colossians 2:9. Tell him that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, like he says in John 11:25. Tell him what you saw Jesus doing here in Luke 7. Sometimes we just need to be told. Sometimes we just need to be reminded. Like we see in 1 Corinthians 13:9 we know in part, we prophesy in part, but one day we will know him as he is. Until then we need someone to tell us. Go tell Johnny. Go tell Johnny. What if Johnny won’t listen, what if he won’t believe? We don’t worry about that. We know that Jesus has told us to listen to him, to believe him. He is the one who will take care of the rest. Do you hear Jesus calling you? Do you hear that he is the one who has promised you life, As Jesus says in John 10:10, he has come so that you may have life, abundant life. And we live that life, day by day, by faith. He’s in charge of the lab report. He is the one who has given us many gifts. He is the one who gives his life so that we may receive it and life. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Look to him. He is coming. He is the one we are looking for. I think most of you have heard this prayer. You probably associate it with a meal. Come, Lord Jesus, be our Guest. May Your gifts to us be blest. Amen. Come, Lord. We await you eagerly.

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