March 26, 2021
During the Jewish feast of Passover, some Greeks arrive in town and approach Philip. They come with a request that the disciples must have fielded many times during Jesus's ministry. Had they traveled all the way to Jerusalem just to ask their question?
"Sir, we would like to see Jesus."
Philip shares their request with Andrew, and together they tell Jesus. But their query fizzles out and the story then takes a new turn. We never learn if they actually get to see Jesus, the one have heard so much about.
Were these Greeks genuine seekers or mere gawkers? What did they hope to see or want to hear from Jesus?
March 17, 2021
The passage from John‘s gospel that we hear this week begins in the midst of Jesus’ nighttime conversation with Nicodemus. Nicodemus has gone to Jesus because of a deep yearning. What do I need to do to be closer to God? To be right with God? How can I have more meaning in my life?
Though he was a religious leader, something was lacking. He was educated, well connected and respected. He is unlike some of the Pharisees that Jesus has criticized for their hypocrisy, the ones who thought they had nothing left to learn, that there was no room for growth, that they never made a mistake and that God was on their side. Nicodemus is far less certain. He wanted something more.
And so, Jesus gives him a long answer with many moving parts that have to do with loving what God loves and as God loves. What are our expressions of loving as God loves?
March 8, 2021
This morning we hear a story from John’s gospel that takes place in a courtyard the size of a football field. This is part of a complex of temple buildings that are beautifully crafted of the finest materials. It is in outer courtyard that we hear about the merchants selling animals for sacrifice. There are also the moneychangers who are changing money into authorized temple currency. This currency was called shekels or temple coins and was needed to purchase a sacrifice or pay annual dues. The problem that we hear about though, is that an unfair exchange rate is being charged and puts an additional burden on the people who were already struggling. The noise in this place would have been incredible. Thousands were gathered because of the Passover and they would be talking and laughing together. For some, they may not have seen each other since the year before. There were birds cooing and squawking, cows mooing, sheep bleating and goats doing whatever goats do. It was in the midst of all this that Jesus took action. If he had tried to protest verbally no one would have heard him. It was a dramatic moment in his history, perhaps the most dramatic. Here, Jesus arrives and upsets the moneychangers and then drives them out of the temple.
March 8, 2021
In this week’s Gospel reading from Mark, Jesus predicts his death for the first time. “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering,” Jesus tells his disciples quite plainly. He must “be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” Standing on this side of resurrection history, we too easily miss the bombshell effect these words must have had on Jesus’s disciples. Their great hope, cultivated over the three years they had followed Jesus, was that he would lead them in a military revolution and overthrow their Roman oppressors. After all, they had seen his miracles, and witnessed firsthand his charismatic ability to draw huge crowds. They had heard him proclaim loud and clear the arrival of a new kingdom. He was their longed-for future. Their cherished dream. So what could be more disorienting, more ludicrous, than the news that their would-be champion was determined to walk straight into a death trap? To surrender without a fight to a common criminal’s death? Peter scolds Jesus for his horrifying prediction. And Jesus, in what might be the sharpest and most surprising rebuke in all of Scripture, puts Peter in his place.