Sunday, March 4, 2007

He’ll Be Sticking Around

Second Sunday in Lent
Sunday, March 4, 2007
Luke 13:31-35

It occurred to me when I heard the news, that there’s an irony to it—we’d know where He is. We’d be able to go to that place where His bones are and know exactly His location. A documentary has been made which claims that Jesus’ bones have been discovered. If we could prove that Jesus’ bones are really in that coffin then there would be no doubt that after He was crucified He stayed in that tomb.

It’s bound to happen that these kinds of stories are going to be popping up from time to time. Thankfully, we haven’t been hearing much about the da Vinci Code thing lately where the holy grail is really supposed to be Jesus’ wife Mary Magdalene and their descendents are still alive today, from their daughter Sarah they had.

This time around though, Jesus and His wife have actually been located; their bones have been discovered in Jerusalem, except, they didn’t have a daughter, but a son, by the name of Judah.

Isn’t it amazing that everyone wants to pin Christianity down? If we can demonstrate that Jesus was really married to Mary Magdalene and they had descendents, then that uproots the foundations of Christianity. If we can show that Jesus’ bones are laying there in a tomb, then that proves once and for all that Jesus did not rise from the dead and, along the lines of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, we are lost, our faith is in vain, and we of all men are the most to be pitied.

You know what? People have been doing this kind of thing for ages. From the very beginning in fact. The Pharisees tried to pin Jesus down. Pilate, have some guards at His tomb so that His disciples can’t steal His body and say that He was raised from the dead. You know what happened when Jesus rose from His grave and the soldiers were powerless to prevent it? They were paid off by those Pharisees. Tell them you were sleeping on the job and that they managed to steal His body after all.

Always an explanation. Always an attempt to give a different set of circumstances. Never the real story. What really happened. Never the plain truth: that Jesus died but rose from the grave. His bones aren’t there. James Cameron knows how to make movies, there’s no question about that. Titanic was not a flop. But he’s no different from those first century Pharisees who tried to tell us that the whole Jesus thing is a hoax.

And here those Pharisees were even before Jesus’ death and resurrection trying to put their own spin on Jesus. They wanted to be able to control Him—you gotta get out of here. And to show Him that they meant well they warn Him that He’ll die if He stays because Herod wants to kill Him.

But Jesus is never going to yield to our calculations to determine where He is. He won’t concede to our demands to show us Himself according to our conditions. He goes right along showing Himself in the way that He sees fit. Will you find His bones there in that tomb with the name “Jesus” on it? No, you won’t. Because they’re not His bones, despite the hype it’s been given like the hype The da Vinci Code received. Jesus’ family tomb would not be located in Jerusalem but in Galilee where His family was from.

What was Jesus’ response to those Pharisees who wanted Him gone? No thanks, I’ll be sticking around. You see, this is where I need to be. The people of God have been terminating the prophets ever since God has been sending them and it’s going to happen again. So, yes, I will be dying here, but it won’t be at the hands of Herod. In fact, it’s all of you. It’s you who want to always put your fences around God so you can be in control. You want Me dead because I’m telling you you’re already dead spiritually and eternally and have no hope apart from Me.

This is the way Jesus operates. Doing His own thing in His own way. But it’s not as though we’re not able to have a clue where He is. Quite the opposite. We know exactly where He is. Why? Because He’ll be sticking around. He did in Jerusalem. Because that’s where He knew He would die. So He stuck around and we can see exactly who He is when we look at that cross.

The prophets proclaimed the Word of God. That’s why they were tortured and their lives snuffed out. Jesus Christ not only was the Prophet par excellence, not only proclaimed the Word of God, He is the Word of God. He is the Word made flesh. The One who gave His body and blood on the cross for the sins of the world. The one who died, and yes rose, He’ll be sticking around. We know exactly where to find Him.

Don’t expect James Cameron to buy it, though. Don’t expect the world to see the light when we tell them exactly where Jesus is to be found. They’re still feeding off all the different ways to discredit the truth of Jesus, whether through the da Vinci Code, the supposed bones of Jesus, or simply saying that it’s all a nice fairy tale.

We know the truth. We know where Jesus is sticking around. It’s here at this altar. It’s here in this bread and this wine. It’s here where Jesus says He gives us Himself: His Body, His Blood. Many will give their different versions of it: it’s just a symbol of His presence; it’s just a memorial meal to remember His death; it’s a meaningful ritual to me. And on and on. We will always be hearing from the world of how Jesus is not really who He says He is. He’s not really where He says He is.

We can listen to all those other voices. Jesus could have listened to the Pharisees and gotten out of Dodge. Jeremiah could have listened to the powerful leaders and gone away quietly. Paul could have just given a rosy picture to the Philippians instead of warning them of those who seek their destruction.

Or we can listen to Jesus and take Him at His Word. He’ll be sticking around. That’s how He operates. Notice He doesn’t prove anything. Come down from the cross and we’ll believe you. Yeah? Maybe. But Jesus isn’t going to achieve a short term victory at the expense of the long term goal. It didn’t make sense to anyone there for Him to stay on that cross if He was really God. But He stuck around. He stayed on that cross to save the world from sin.

It doesn’t make sense how a little piece of bread and some wine can bring you forgiveness, give you strength for your life, be a manifestation of oneness in Christ and with each other. But He’ll be sticking around here in this Meal, and so we’ll continue to receive it often. We will never understand how in simple bread and wine He gives us Himself but we’ll know where He is. And we’ll most certainly know He’s not laying there in a tomb in Jerusalem. He’s living. He’s active. You can’t pin Him down. But He’ll be sticking around.

And all the while He will be preparing a place for you in heaven where you’ll be sticking around for eternity. Amen.


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