- Category: Sermons 2013
- Written by Rev. Paul Tidman
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April 21, 2013 Easter 4
- Acts 9:36-43 – Peter raises Tabitha from death
- Psalm 23 - shepherd
- Revelation 7:9-17 – men who have passed through the great ordeal; praising God and the Lamb who is their shepherd; “victory to our God and to the Lamb”; worshipping God with these words...; “the Lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water”
- John 10:22-30 – my sheep believe; “the sheep that belong to me listen to my voice”; “my Father and I are one”
- John 21:1-14 – “It is the Lord”
May the words of my lips and the meditations in all our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer. Amen.
The Easter lilies are wilted now. Easter Sunday was three weeks ago. The excitement has faded away, but we have been reminded of the empty tomb experience through several of the gospel records of Jesus’ resurrection appearances. Two weeks ago we heard of Jesus entering the closed room and of the doubt expressed by Thomas. Last week we would have heard about the disciples fishing in Galilee and encountering Jesus on the shore.
The gospel this week seems a bit strange; the Gospel of John is definitely not post-Easter. Jesus is a normal human debating with Jews in the Temple, near the portico of Solomon. The skeptics are demanding an answer to their question, “Are you the Messiah?”
John wrote that question years, decades after the crucifixion of Jesus, after the discovery of the empty tomb, after the mysterious appearances. He brought it up because it was still a debatable point. Is Jesus the Messiah?
The question is asked in a form that expects a yes or a no. Is it black or white? If Jesus answers ‘yes’, then he will be accepting the definition of Messiah that is held by the questioner. Yes, I am the figure who is to return the nation of Israel to independence and greatness. Yes, I wield political and military powers and have a grand vision for the city of Jerusalem.
Instead, Jesus offers experiential evidence. That is what is now promoted in education these days, I believe, experiential learning. Draw your own conclusions. Jesus says, “The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me.” Some saw and believed, while others did not. Jesus added to the consternation of the non-believers by defining his view of Messiah; “The Father and I are one.”
Many of the Jews of Jesus’ time could not get their minds around this bald statement. It just was not part of their world view, that man and God could co-exist, that humanity could become holy. Their view of Messiah was different than Jesus’ view.
When a person believes, whether they have seen like Thomas or have experienced a vision like Paul on the road to Damascus or have been told by an evangelist like Stephen, they are changed. They express this change is several ways. Often it is an exclamation.
Thomas said, “My Lord and my God.”
The disciples who had been fishing said, “It is the Lord.”
Joseph, in a dream, was told to call the boy Emmanuel, which means ‘God among us.’
Revelation 19, the familiar chant Hallelujah is sounded, a shout of ‘praise God.’
In the Revelation text this morning, the faithful sang, “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever!”
Believers say something important. However it is said, these words of belief bring forward a great story.
By our words of belief, we say that God is in the world, that God has the power to do amazing things, that God has done the world-changing act of Jesus’ birth, and resurrection. We say that God did this intentionally. God provided the Paschal lamb for sacrifice, God provided Jesus and the Spirit to shepherd the believers and God provided a way, a way which can be narrow or can be wide open, a way to the presence of God in eternal life. We are saying that Jesus is the Messiah.
‘Is Jesus the Messiah?’ is still a moot question today.
A hundred years ago, many would have said ‘yes,’ to a Jesus as the Messiah who would have us transform First Nations people through enforced residential schooling. They did it with enthusiasm.
‘Is Jesus the Messiah?’ Today we have a changed worldview, a different expectation of the Messiah. Is the Messiah truly forgiving, truly loving, compassionate to all of God’s creation? Is Messiah concerned about the new ideas of ecology, inclusivity, evolution, to the sharing of resources?
Your answer to this question is more than the words of the Creed or a catechism. Your answer to the question is to be found in your life, in your family, in your actions. You define who the Messiah is.