Many Rivers To Cross

sermon RKP 011914

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’  I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.”

And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.  I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’  And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”  The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.  When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, teacher, “Where are you staying?”  He said to them, “Come and see.”

They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day.  It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.  One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Anointed One.  He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John.  You are to be called Peter.”

John 1:29-42

 

 “What are you looking for?”  This is not a casual inquiry.  Jesus is not “wazzup’ng” these two disciples.  Jesus is investigating the seriousness of their interest.  They respond, “Where are you staying?”  They are interested and intrigued.  Perhaps they are even afraid.  Jesus then invites them past the fear and in to an intimate encounter with, “Come and see.”

 

Jesus is inviting them to get lost in each other’s company.  This is a mutual experience with each person offering themselves to the collective proximity of fellowship.  In this fellowship stories are shared, hope is garnished, and joys are celebrated.  Intimacy is fashioned with laughter, familiarity, and companionship.  This is not merely hangeroners sitting at the feet of Jesus, the emerging Christ.  This is a two-way street of intimate encounter.  This is the fully incarnate and realized Christ.

 

Come and see.  Jesus is literally saying, “Let’s hang out and experience each other.”  This is the invitation to peel back the fronts and masks that we use to insulate ourselves from each other.  This is an invitation to see each other through the eyes of God.  To see the divine profanity that lies in the finite, wicked hearts of creation.  When we see each other with the divine eyes of God we begin the physical journey from the here and travel together towards the not yet.

 

Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Taste the sweetness of God’s goodness.  It is this goodness that draws us nearer unto God and each other.  The sweetness of creation is the sweetness of the Christ.  Taste the bitterness of death.  The bitterness of death is real.  We are reminded that the bitterness of death is not the last course.  There is an eternal banquet awaiting us all.  Taste the sourness of humanity’s sin.  The acidic annoyance of sin moves us towards that savory supper in the hall of Christ.  Taste the saltiness of faith.  The salt of faith awakens the senses as it prepares us to experience the fullness of God if life and in death.

 

Hear the Word of the Lord.  To hear the Word is to listen to and absorb the transformative nature of the Emmanuel, the God with us.  The great street court hustler, Sidney Deane, of White Men Can’t Jump tells us, “Y’all can listen to Jimi but you can’t hear him…Just because you’re listening to him doesn’t mean you’re hearing him.”  The same can be said about God.  You might be listening to the Word of God.  To hear the Word of God is to be transformed by it; to understand, sympathize with, and to live in the context of the People of God.  Listening to the Word of God is not hearing the Word.  You know when you hear the Word of God when you are moved to action, convicted by it, and are transformed by hearing the Word of God.

 

Smell the aroma of Christ, a fragrance that comes from knowing God.  I was working with a client a few weeks ago.  They were down on their luck and wrestling with some heavy things.  Mental illness, substance abuse, the loss of their children to the State, and depression had overcome them.  They let go of personal hygiene.  They came in to my office and smelled something awful.  A sour stench of anguish and apathy filled the air.  I choked back my breath, afraid to breathe them in.  I focused on the foul odor.  I let myself slip.  I did my job and collected information.  I assessed their progress.  Meanwhile I gasped for breath.  Then they shared that their dog had 5 puppies.  Then a smile appeared on their face.  The air was not clear but a light shone through the cloud.  These puppies needed someone to care for them.  They found purpose in this.  We discussed the hygiene issue and they responded with understanding and awareness of the need to care for themselves so that they could care for the puppies.  The aroma of Christ was a foul smelling, sour stench that delivered us both to new realities.

 

Touch the hem of his garment and be made well.  Jesus’ public ministry was one of breaking down power and privilege.  He challenged the status quo and turned the world on its head.  He did this with touch.  He touched the sick, the outcast, and the forgotten.  He embraced them as his family.  He emptied his privilege to dine with sinners.  He used his power to awaken concern for the outcast.  He touched those that no one touched before.  Jesus used touch as a path towards transformation.

 

“What are you looking for?”  What is it that you desire?  What is missing from your life?  And Jesus says, “Let’s hang out and experience each other.”  And we will change this world together.

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