Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jesus Wept

A Precis of Sorts

I'm not a minister. The thought of being one has occurred to me in the past, but it's not really something I look back upon and contemplate as a road not taken. It simply wasn't in the cards for me to be a priest. And yet tonight I have been thinking about what I would say if I was giving a sermon this Sunday. I am not sure where the need to write this is coming from, but it's there all the same. So here goes. By the way, I'll spare you the usual formalities from The Book of Common Prayer, so don't worry about knowing when to kneel, stand, etc.

Peace be with you.

The passage I would like to talk about this morning comes from the Book of John, chapter 11, verse 35. It will take you far longer to find it than it will to read it so let me save you the trouble.

Jesus wept.

Short, bittersweet and to the point. Jesus, who was the human incarnation of God, experienced something we all encounter and behaved- no, it was more genuine than that, it wasn't just rote behavior, he felt. His heart broke and he did what many of us do when we grieve, he cried.

In the context of the narrative, he wept when he heard that his friend, Lazarus, had died. And then, being Jesus, he performed a miracle, taught a lesson and moved on. It's a great story about friendship and the healing power of faith but the most important lesson we can take from that passage, which by the way is John 11:1-44 isn't that Jesus can raise the dead.

Let me explain. I promise I'll try to keep it short. As Christians, you know that the Bible, particularly the New Testament is intended to be a guide for living. And as Christians, you know that we are to look to the Bible to gain an understanding of how we are supposed to be if we are to be Christ-like.

Let me get a quick show of hands. How many people here this morning can raise the dead? Hunh. Me neither. So if we can't raise the dead what part of Jesus' example are we supposed to follow?

Jesus wept.

We cannot mourn or feel loss or weep tears of real pain for others if we don't see them as fully human. If we don't value them as much as we value ourselves, what does that make us? Monsters. To deny anyone their rights as a human being is monstrous. In those two words from the Book of John, we're given in no uncertain terms the example to follow, that we are to be human and humane and recognize the humanity in others and respond in a loving manner that is truly Christ-like.

I think Jesus and the authors of the Bible knew that some of us can be a little thick, so they spelled it out in even plainer terms further along in the same book. John 13:34-35, don't worry about looking it up right now, but I do want you to keep it in mind for contemplation later on. Where was I? In John 13:34-35 , Christ says: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, that ye have love one to another." He didn't add any clauses or make exceptions or suggest that his love is exclusive or can be repealed or withheld based on certain conditions. He said, "love one another as I have loved you." Who are we to assume that any person or group would not be loved by Christ and would you want to follow someone who would withhold their love?

Right now there are people who are trying to withhold the rights of your friends, your neighbors, your brothers, your sisters, you fellow humans. They do this in the name of Christianity. They need, as we all do, to step back from Christianity and look deeper into the personality and spirit of Christ. People love to ask the question, "What would Jesus do?" I can't help but think that he has to look at us sometimes, do a facepalm and say, "I've already told you."

Thanks for hearing me out this morning. Now let's finish this up and get out of here before the Baptists get all the good tables at The Pancake Pantry.

copyright 2009 jas faulkner


Phyl said...

This is a beautiful and perfect response, Jas.

My own response at Bookishgal also involves a book, though a different one.

jas faulkner said...

Thanks! I still think you'll write a better one on the same subject.