I presented the following message on Wednesday night at our Lenten service. As I gave it, I began to think that it was a bit judgmental. I wasn’t intending for it to be that. I usually just put together what I learn and what I feel compelled to say. I also have really only one target when I am writing. I was taught to preach to myself. I give the sermon that I most need to hear. So this is it. It was based on Psalm 24:7-10 and John 12:34-46 & 42-50. Our title for the night was: “Who is the Son of Man?” I am not so sure that was the a good title, but that is where it was. I will be out and about today, so I thought I would post this early.
Our scripture in the gospel of John tried to send me in at least three different directions. I finally realized on my reading this afternoon, that we will take the bullying road. How many of you have heard or seen commercials on radio or TV about bullying? Although it is an ongoing topic, it isn’t really a new topic anymore. It sort of hit its hey-day about the time that Paulina was starting high school. I remember lots of issues when she was in 8th grade and then when she started high school. It is one of those things that we don’t want our children to experience from either direction. I am sure it was around when we were younger, in fact I can remember a few instances that I won’t be sharing, but I am sure we all have our own stories and thoughts on the topic, and really just wish that it wouldn’t happen, so we wouldn’t have to intervene.
I looked up a quote that started floating around in my head, and found that there is more discussion and controversy about who said this first and how it was said then there is discussion on how to end the issue. The quote as close as I could get to what I thought it was is this: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.” Think about that in terms of bullying. As long as I, you, we, they all stand around and watch, nothing will change. Nothing will become better for anyone. And when we do interfere, we risk putting ourselves out there to be the next target.
In John chapter 12, we read that there were many people including those higher up in the community, who actually believed in Jesus and what he was teaching, but they were scared of the Pharisees. They were afraid of being cast out of the synagogue so that they wouldn’t be able to worship with the rest of society. Did you ever wonder what happens to all of those children who are the bullies in school? They grow up. They grow up to become adults who often continue to bully their way around their job sites, their communities, organizations they are part of, and on and on, and some even raise children just like themselves. But that isn’t what I was hoping we would talk about tonight.
Tonight I was hoping we would spend some time looking at what Jesus had to say about who he is and why he came, and how looking at him, looking towards him gave us an insight as to who God is and what God looks like. Instead my mind keeps pulling itself to the idea of the people who want to follow Jesus, but they are too afraid to do so. They are too scared to offend the leaders that want to do what they have always done, to worship as they have always worshiped and to wait for the Messiah that they really hope never appears to disrupt their control and power over those who worship in the synagogues.
Jesus in the final part of the passage makes it clear that he is not representing himself in his ministry. He is on earth to fulfill the mission that God, his father sent him on. He has come not to glorify himself, and not to act as judge over the people of the earth. He says two things very plainly: in vs 47 we read, “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” And earlier in verse 46 he says, “I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.
If we can remember back to the month just before Christmas when we were celebrating the season of Advent, we might remember the theme we had this year was A Light is Drawing Nearer. We sang a song, “Drawing Nearer.” The lyrics were: Even in the midst of all of this, trouble on the news, no peace within, still there is a light in the distance—drawing nearer, drawing nearer.” That light we sang about is Jesus. We sang of that light as a baby drawing nearer, but today we read, think and study about that light as a grown human/divine Son of God, or as we read in the early part of our gospel tonight, the Son of Man.
“Who is this Son of Man?” was a question posed by the people in Jerusalem in the days that Jesus walked the earth. Who is this Son of Man that will be lifted up on the cross for all to see, for all to believe and for all to follow? In Psalm 24 we read: “Who is the King of Glory?” It is “The Lord of hosts,” “The Lord strong and mighty.” Jesus tells us that he did not come to judge and to purge and to weed us out. We do that all by ourselves. We put ourselves into judgement we reject Jesus and his teachings. We do this every time we allow evil to triumph, every time we stand by and watch and do nothing to prevent evil from happening.
What Jesus offers to us is light; it is the light of eternal life. All we have to do is believe and confess that we believe. When we believe, really believe then we acknowledge him both in our hearts and before others, and that is when we have the courage and the ability to disrupt the powers of evil in this world and work as members of the kingdom of God. Go this evening in remembrance that Jesus came for you, for each of you. Go and be part of the disruption of the powers of evil. Amen!