Philippians 2:5-11The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Christians in Philippi while he was in prison for his faith. Philippi, located in northern Greece wast the first place in Europe to hear the good news that through his life, death, and resurre…
Congratulations to our own, Judy Hug who completed her 2013-2015 studies as a Certified Lay Minister in the United Methodist Church. She is one of 15 lay persons in our West Ohio Conference who will be recognized at this June’s West Ohio Conferenc…
Sunday, March 29 – (9:00 am & 10:30 Services) & Wednesday, April 1 (6:30 pm Casual Service @ Crossroads, 2095 Fair Avenue)Features – Palm Sunday & “Come, Touch the Robe” CantataScripture – Philippians 2:5-11Theme -…
As I have been watching March Madness basketball games, several catch phrases have been used again and again by the announcers. Even if you’re not that much of a basketball fan, you have probably heard these common expressions at one point or another.”…
Sermon (March 22) – “Different Robes of Jesus: Burial Robe”
I Corinthians 15:53-57
This is TOTALLY at the very top of my favorite scriptures list! In this chapter of his letter, the Apostle Paul explains the meaning of “resurrection.” By resurrection, Paul is NOT referring to a “spiritual” non-physical state of being. The resurrection body is physical, just not subject to sin, illness, and death. This is what resurrection meant in the 1st century Jewish world.
This chapter depends on the readers having the particular Jewish worldview that there is the present age and a time is coming when heaven and earth will fully overlap and sin and death will be no more. When heaven and earth come together completely, God will give raise up the faithful and give them resurrected bodies. Jesus’ resurrection was a foretaste of what awaits God’s people at the close of the present age.
When people are given resurrection bodies, they will be changed and transformed and this will happen in an instant.
Many people today misinterpret this passage because our culture’s worldview has changed significantly since the Jewish worldview of the 1st century. Their worldview believed that heaven and earth were two separate parts of God’s creation. Today, we often see heaven and earth as far away from each other. The Jewish worldview believes that they are closer than we think and the future hope is that one day they will fully unite.
The word, “victory” is the greek word, “Nikos,” the name of my blog.
Matthew creatively helps us to see how this burial story of Jesus actually hints at what is to happen on Easter morning. We are told that Jesus was placed in a new tomb and it sealed with a large stone. In the 1st century, the body would have been wrapped, placed on one of the shelves. Tombs contained several shelves and several bodies. After the body decomposed, the bones would have been gathered and placed in a box.
In our Gospel reading, since the tomb was new, there were no other bodies. Jesus’ body was the first one. Also, since Joseph had to request Pilate for the body, Matthew is showing us that Jesus had really died. People who believe that Jesus’ really didn’t die and somehow escaped and got married and lived a normal life, etc., etc., do not understand Roman crucifixion.
Jesus’ main disciples were in hiding which tells us that there was no plot by the primary followers of Jesus to steal the body and then invent a resurrection story to make everybody feel good about a tragic situation.
Finally, Matthew is also careful to let us know that the women who found the tomb on Easter morning were the same women who were at the tomb on Friday evening so they knew which tomb to visit.
None of these details provided by the gospel writer, Matthew prove that Jesus’ was resurrected. It does raise the question, if these details were reported correctly, why wouldn’t we be open to the possibility that Jesus was resurrected from the dead? For many people, our worldview will not allow us to be open to this possibility. Maybe, something is wrong with our worldview that says that things like this cannot happen!
[Note: The resources used for these scripture reading commentaries are based on the Everyone series by NT Wright, Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, The Wesley Study Bible, and the “Montreal-Anglican”lectionary commentaries.]
Yancey goes on to write, “In contrast, in Jesus’ triumphal entry, the adoring crowd makes up the ragtag procession: the lame, the blind, the children, the peasants from Galilee and Bethany. When the officer looks for the object of their attention he spies a forlorn figure, weeping, riding on no stallion or chariot but on the back of a baby donkey, a borrowed coat draped across its backbone serving as his saddle.”
The story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is a familiar one for many of us. We hear this story year after year. But the great thing about God’s Word is that even the most familiar story can become fresh if we listen carefully, and sometimes even in familiar accounts you see things in a new way.
The second thing to keep in mind is that in that time period, it was an honor to have a rabbi ride on a donkey you owned. In other words, they allowed the disciples of Jesus to take the donkey as a matter of pride.
Now these are all valid explanations about Jesus borrowing the donkey, but I’d like to suggest another possibility. I think this man was willing to loan his donkey to Jesus because the disciples had referred to Jesus as their master. Once it was stated that “The Master needs it”, the discussion was over.
I think the owner of the donkey had faith. I also think he had come to three conclusions that apply to how God reacts to those who seek to follow after Jesus.
They were a burden-bearing animal, which meant they could transport things. They were doing what trucks do today. They were able to help care for the land. They were doing what tractors do today. They were a means of transportation. They filled the need that cars fill today.
This matters because I want you to see that this is no small gift and this is what the Master needed, so this is what the Master was given. God doesn’t ask us to give what we don’t have. God invites us to give what we do have. We may not feel we have anything significant to give, but God sometimes takes what we already have and uses them in great ways.
Moses was asked to give his walking stick. Rahab gave a corner of her roof to hide the spies. David gave his sling shot. The widow at Zarephath gave the last of her oil and flour to make a meal for Elijah.
Following in the donkey owner’s example, the one who seeks to be a follower of Jesus knows that everything we have belongs to the Lord. Everything we have has been given to us as a gift from God. Everything: our time, our talents, our resources, they have been entrusted to us so that we might use them for God. Stewardship is not just about giving money; it is about managing what God has given us well.
I wonder what God thinks when we waste the gifts that have been given to us. Listen to these words from Christian author, Max Lucado:
Maybe you have those questions, too. Each of us has a donkey. You and I each have something in our lives, which, if given back to God, could, like the donkey, move Jesus and his story farther down the road. Maybe you can greet or hug or set-up a computer or serve a meal or write a check. Whatever you have, that’s your donkey. And whatever it is, your donkey belongs to the master.
No gift is too small or insignificant when offered sincerely to God and for God’s purposes. And all our gifts really do belong to God. We are invited to offer our gifts to the Master.
God has given us many things: our talents, our resources, our time, our children, our jobs, our interests. They belong to God. God has given them to us as a gift. They are ours to use, but God can ask for them back at any time. At any time God can request that what He has given be returned in some fashion. He can do this because He is the true owner; and we are the stewards.
And finally, a follower of Jesus knows that the value of what we have will be multiplied when it is placed in the Lord’s hands. The man gave his donkey, even though it was valuable to him. But look at how much more valuable it became when placed in the hands of Jesus.
The person who gives their time to read to or visit with people in a nursing home may feel like they are doing little, but it certainly means a lot to them. The Sunday School teacher who prepares a bible lesson is helping people to grow deeper in their faith.
The person who takes the time to jot a note, to make a call, to stop by and visit may feel that they don’t have much to offer, but by giving what they have, God is using their efforts to encourage someone who is weary, to comfort someone who thought they were alone, or to reach someone who was drifting away.
What we have is never more valuable than when we place them in the capable and loving hands of Jesus. So, here’s the question? What is God asking of you? How can you “invest” what God has given you? What does God want you to give? A talent, some time, some money, a willingness to obey? It may be simple, it may be great . . . but what we do know is that followers of Jesus offer what they have in love.
Ron Dillon, who sings in our choir sent me a news story that aired on the CBS evening news this past year. It’s about a little boy in Toledo, Ohio who gave what he had. It wasn’t a donkey for Jesus to ride and it wasn’t a robe to spread on the road. But it was a gift that one man will never ever forget. Let’s watch.
Sunday, March 22 – (9:00 am & 10:30 Services) & Wednesday, March 25 (6:30 pm Casual Service @ Crossroads, 2095 Fair Avenue)Features – 5th Sunday in LentScripture – I Corinthians 15:53-57 & Matthew 27:57-61Sermon&nb…