This is a lovely passage from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. He begins with a call to unity and to being like Christ Jesus—“In your life together, think the way Christ Jesus thought.” He explains that Jesus gave up everything, even being with God, to come to us in human form. He was humble and obedient to god, making himself like a servant (common theme in the New Testament—the last shall be first and the first shall be last). And then God raised him up and “gave him the name that is greater than any other name” so that all would bow down to honor him.
They will all confess, “Jesus Christ is Lord,”
and this will bring glory to God the Father.
I like this exhortation to be like Jesus—to think like Jesus. It reminds me of the “What Would Jesus Do?” movement of years ago. It was corny and overused, I think particularly in evangelical churches, but it had a good point to it. Of course, we all fail and no one can be completely Christ-like, but it’s a good way to stop and evaluate how we’re living and whether we are following God’s will. Sometimes it’s obvious when we are not in God’s will or doing as Jesus would do—when we are doing something that would hurt someone else, whether physically or otherwise. Other times it can be a gray area. For instance, I had guilt about not getting this Palm Sunday post in before Palm Sunday—and it is one of the most important holy days of the Christian year. However, I recognize that I also must take care of my own children and I don’t think it is right to skip valuable family together-time to catch up on a blog. I had to make that choice and for me it was the right choice. If I asked, “What Would Jesus Do?” in that instance, I would remember how he wanted the little children to come to him, when the disciples thought he had better things to do, or how he praised Mary for stopping to listen to him while her sister Martha fussed that Mary should be helping her with her housework.
What will you do today to be in God’s will and do what Jesus would do? How will you confess, “Jesus Christ is Lord,” and bring glory to God the Father?
This week’s Gospel lesson is a pretty famous one. Before Jesus rose from the dead, he brought another man back from the dead, his dear friend named Lazarus.
The first part of the story is a little puzzling. Jesus receives a message from Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary, telling him his beloved friend is ill. Jesus hears it and said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Continue reading →
This week’s gospel lesson is about Jesus healing a blind man. The story starts out with Jesus out walking with his disciples. They saw the blind man and the followers asked Jesus why the man was born blind. There was a common belief at that time (and with some religious people today) that any illness or disability was punishment for sin. They asked if he was born blind because of his own sin or that of his parents. (Seems puzzling to me—how could he have sinned before he was even born?)
Jesus said it wasn’t sin. He said he was born blind to show what great things God can do. Then he said, “While it is daytime, we must continue doing the work of the one who sent me. The night is coming, and no one can work at night.While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Continue reading →
This week’s gospel lesson is another time Jesus is speaking to just one person, though it leads to him teaching to a whole town.
An important aspect of this story is that Jesus and his disciples are in Samaria (you may remember it from the story of the Good Samaritan). There are very few Samaritans left, fewer than 800 according to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samaritans). They have a religion apparently very similar to Judaism, but different enough that they could not agree and would not accept each other at all at the time of this story. From what I have read, nowadays they are seen as a sect of Judaism rather than a group of unacceptable heretics. But at the time of this story, they were very much outsiders to the other Jewish people and the two groups did not get along well. That’s why the parable of the Good Samaritan would have been shocking at the time—that the one who was good was an unacceptable Samaritan. Continue reading →
The gospel lesson this week is a little different. Instead of Jesus teaching crowds of people or his disciples, he is talking to just one man. The man is named Nicodemus, and he’s an important man among the Jewish people. He comes to see Jesus at night—I have read that this is because he didn’t want to be seen consulting Jesus openly so he comes by cover of darkness. I don’t think that’s explicitly stated, but it could be true. So he comes to Jesus to find out more about him. He says, “Teacher, we know that you are a teacher sent from God. No one can do these miraculous signs that you do unless they have God’s help.”
Jesus tells him, “Everyone must be born again. Anyone who is not born again cannot be in God’s kingdom.” Continue reading →