The Story Week 24: Jesus – No Ordinary Man

Jesus created disturbances where ever he went.  He spoke and crowds came to listen.  Many left in awe, others left in anger.  He spoke in parables and many could not understand what he was saying including the disciples.  He ate with sinners, healed those condemned as sinners and outcasts, the blind, lepers, cripples he even ate with those dreaded IRS agents of the day, the tax collectors. Jesus was certainly not an ordinary man.
Then we have the disciples crossing the sea and a storm hits and threatens to swamp the boat and what does Jesus do he commands the winds and the waves to “be still”.  No ordinary man.

In his sermon on the mount and the beatitudes this “extraordinary” man turns our understanding of what it means to be blessed upside down.  The poor, the meek, etc.  But ultimately everything comes down to this statement that Jesus makes that many today do not want to hear just as many turned away back then.  Jesus says to all of us, “I am the only way.”  He is the bread of life, and if we feed on this bread we will live forever.

We want ordinary bread, we want Jesus and our own way, we want to worship God and our idols of wealth, status, power, freedom, happiness, and fame.

At some point we are  faced with having to answer this question, do we want to follow the one that God the Father sent?   We have to decide do we believe and will we follow with singular devotion this most extraordinary man.  Belief means making a commitment, belief means faithfully following Jesus with singular devotion.

The Story Week 23: Jesus is Scary………………..Good

This week week as we seek to understand Jesus more fully we move from the birth of Christ to the beginning of his ministry, beginning with his baptism by John.  The questions that I want to engage this week are first: ‘What are you afraid of, what scares you?”  and second; “Why is Jesus scary and should we be scared?”

This week we will explore why Jesus struck fear into the Pharisees, and the religious scholars of his day.  Why because he made them uncomfortable by his actions, by the people he chose to hang out with by the customary laws he chose to turn upside down, by how he challenged the religious establishment of his day and does to the same for us today.   He chose to eat with sinners, with known thieves, with drug addicts and the dregs of society.  Reminding all of us that they are beloved by God and thus should be loved by those who claim Christ as their Lord and savior.

As you read chapter 23 consider how modern versions of these same stories might play out in your daily life, and how they might upset not just our faith communities but your very lives as well.    Then just maybe we will have a glimpse of why Jesus was and is SCARY and oh so very Good as well.

Till next week, grace and peace be with you.

The Story Week 22: Birth of a King

This week we begin, the New Testament, the next chapter or series in our journey through The Story(Bible), the season of Lent.  Before I begin here are some thoughts to guide us not just this week but over the next 5 weeks as we begin our Lenten series entitled “Understanding Jesus”.

Lent is often described as a journey, a time of self searching. But Lent can also be thought of in terms of truth.

In Lent, the masks we put on to protect us from God’s penetrating stare are stripped away.  In Lent, our lives are grasped by the power of God’s truth, which first strips us bare of our self-justifying lies and second assures us that God truly loves us in spite of our failings.  Join us during this season of Lent as we seek to reveal God’s truth by:

un-Masking who Christ is – so we can more fully know Christ.

   un-Masking of Ourselves, so we can be fully present in community

   un-Masking of Others, so we can remove the expectations we place on others and allow them to be who they are, loved by God and by us.

We begin this week with the Birth of a King, king Jesus.  A couple thoughts to ponder as you read chapter 22 of The Story.   This birth story which is so ingrained into our lives, a babe lying in a manger, the crowded inn, a carpenter and his young wife, Mary.  Is very familiar to us for it is the Christmas story and for at least a month every year we remember through songs and words this familiar story, perhaps it has become too familiar.

Our text this week comes to us from John 1, and it to should be familiar to us,  “in the beginning” for this is how this book that we love, the Bible begins, “in the beginning”.   A reminder that w are not to get to comfortable with this image of a new born child, this royal birth.  When things in our lives become familiar and comfortable we settle into believing we already have all the understanding we need, we know the answer.  When we do this we tend to miss God in our midst.

A couple thoughts to ponder. “In the beginning” reminds us that Jesus was there with Abraham, with Moses at the burning bush, wrestling with Jacob at the river, with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fire, and with you and I today.

Second, there was no room in the inn(s) in Bethlehem for this common little babe to be born.  Is there room in your life?  As I look at how crowded my calendar is ……… I wonder if Joseph came knocking what would I say?

Lastly, this was the child of a carpenter a common man, a reminder that Christ comes to us in the common every day reality of life.  Perhaps is a worldly king came calling we would clear our calendar, perhaps.  But Jesus reminded his disciples that they saw him when they touched the lives of those in need around them, the hunger, the naked, the cold.