Good morning and welcome to Friday’s podcast. My name is Alan and I have really enjoyed spending this week with you. Next week I hand over to Helen. She’s a great communicator, so do listen in.
Today’s reading is Matthew 11:1-19. I am going to focus on v2-3
When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
John the baptiser was in prison, he had heard the stories of what Jesus had been up to. His question is “Who is that!??” John had crowds and crowds of people follow him out into the desert to be baptised. He preached a uncompromising message of repentance. He knew who he was and the role he had to play in God’s kingdom. He knew that his job was to open the door for someone much more important… Could it be Jesus? His relative? So he sent some of his followers to ask… Who are you?
Have you ever had someone ask you who you are…? Not when you first came to university – What’s your name, what course are you doing, where are you from? – More like the moment when James Bond walks into the room and all the heads turn… “Who is that!??”
Now, I’m not suggesting that we need to wear dinner jackets under our wetsuits, to go to the gym and get ‘fit.’ The kingdom of God works on a very different value system to James Bond and her majesty’s secret service. What we value, what see as awesome or worthy rarely is in God’s eyes.
But what I am suggesting is that we are being transformed into the likeness of Jesus. The Jesus who John sent his followers to ask… who are you? We are becoming just like him!
In the beginning God made human beings in his awesome image, in his likeness. He set people as rulers over his creation. When the beasts and the birds saw humanity they were to recognise us as God’s emissaries – his ambassadors – as members of the royal household.
Of course all that got messed up, we know the story of Adam and Eve! As Adam and Eve turned their backs on God, as they figured that they could do life on their own, that they didn’t need to listen to God, that they were intelligent, as they figured they could work it out for themselves…. Life got tough, life got stressful, life got unmanageable. Adam and Eve learned quickly that they weren’t smart enough to make it on their own.
And if we are honest we see the same heart of self interest at work in our own lives, in our children, in our families, in our streets, in our neighbourhoods, cities and worked out in all the nations around the world. A world full of people who are trying to make ends meet, who are trying to provide, to protect, to look out for number one. We see it in the world of Banking and Big business who put profit before people. We see it in our own nation’s past and our quest for power and empire. We see it in Trump’s battle cry of “America First!” and what is Brexit all about if it’s not about looking after me, my interests, my future.
The story of the Bible, following our rejection of God, is God’s unfolding plan to provide us with a way to return to him; to enable us to be members of the royal family and to live life differently to the world around us.
It is true that what Jesus did on the cross enabled us to become children of God, children of the King of all creation. But it is no use claiming this right to be God’s children if we continue to live like orphans. If we continue to try and fix it on our own, if we continue to put ME first.
God is raising up his children. He is nurturing a generation to become princes and princesses in his kingdom. He is training his followers to live and breathe and love like Jesus did… He is raising a bunch of people of whom people will ask… who is that!? He is shaping a people to whom people will sit up and take notice when they speak. Whose love and compassion will turn heads…
But this only happens when we consistently choose the way of Jesus. When we choose each day to serve those around us. When we choose to give to others rather than take. When we big others up rather than bigging ourselves up.
Jesus said in yesterday’s passage Matthew 10:39 “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
Today, will we cling on to our lives, our way of doing it, our need to be in control, our need to fix it, our whims, wants and desires…? or will we choose to lose our lives… laying all of that down and choose to put others first…?
Today let’s ask the question, “who am I?” and “How am I going to live this life?”
Father, each morning you ask us to choose who we are going to serve with the day that lies ahead. Father, today we choose to serve you. We choose to sacrifice our time, our money, our priorities and our desires to seek your will for our lives and we join Jesus in praying the prayer that he taught us… our Father, in heaven, hallowed be your name, YOUR KINGDOM COME, YOUR WILL BE DONE, not mine… Amen.
READING: Matthew 11:1-19
After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.
When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’
Jesus replied, ‘Go back and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.’
As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written:
‘“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.”
Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
‘To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the market-places and calling out to others:
‘“We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.”
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon.” The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.’