Saturday, March 15, 2014

Second Sunday in Lent: Looking Forward, Looking Back

Six days before the Passover -
  • This is the pivotal point in John’s gospel.   This texts looks back over Jesus’ ministry and forward to his passion
  • This is 3rd Passover- 1st Jesus cleanses temple, revealing God is doing a new thing; 2nd Jesus feeds the 5000 – abundance, bread of life; 3rd and final, death and resurrection
  • Jesus’s signs end in raising of Lazarus.  This meal is only possible because Jesus restored Lazarus to his family.
  • Looks forward – one day before Jesus enters Jerusalem amid psalms and shouts of acclamation and the beginning of the end
  • six days before Passover, before Jesus becomes the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world

A family meal with those Jesus loves -
  • Jesus goes to Bethany often – this is home for him
  • Martha – Yes Lord, I believe you are the messiah – does what Martha does best - cooks dinner,
  • a feast?  For Jesus – all his favorite dishes.  This is not an unplanned visit like we hear in Luke’s story of Mary and Martha – she is pulling out all the stops to honor Jesus
    • foreshadowing Last Supper
  • Lazarus = new life.  How does one live a resurrection life?
    • Lazarus is silent in both chap 11 and here(maybe it’s hard to get a word in edgewise with sisters like Mary and Martha!)  - by his very presence he testifies to the abundant new life God gives.
    • His death and resurrection foreshadows Jesus’ own

And Mary, who sat listening at Jesus feet, whose grief for Lazarus was so overwhelming -   
  • Costly perfume – a whole year’s wages – extravagance
    • Nard was used to anoint a body for burial, Mary had it, but didn’t use it on Lazarus?  
    • Saved it for Jesus
    • Did not count the cost of discipleship, nothing held back
  • Washed Jesus feet – an intimate act of caring
    • foreshadowing Jesus’ own example of discipleship – wash one another’s feet, serve one another, love as I have loved you
  • Her hair – a woman would not have let her hair down in public – it’s scandalous, it’s intimate, - it’s shows complete devotion and a willingness to be over the top in her expression of that devotion
  • Filled the house – Mary’s extravagance – Jesus preaching of life abundant, abundant wine at Cana, abundant food for 500 with abundant leftovers, abundance of God’s grace
  • Looking back, looking forward:  Mary’s act
    • gratitude for new life (Lazarus),
    • anticipating Jesus’ death
  • Model of discipleship – foreshadowing the love Jesus has for us
    • “fragrance of love’s actions is carried on the wind to places we never see. (FOTW, Year C, 5th Sunday in Lent, Homelitical perspective)
The disciples are there too,  Judas becomes their spokesman
  • Judas counted the cost of discipleship
    • Care for the poor a major teaching of Jesus - disciples learned this lesson well,
    • Judas had ulterior motives as well
  • Both Judas and Mary were disciples
    • Contrast of Mary as perfect disciple and Judas as failed disciple,
    • yet Jesus loves and dies for both.
  • Both Mary and Judas are preparing for what lies ahead –
    •  Mary anointing Jesus for burial,
    •  Judas by his betrayal setting the wheels in motion for Jesus’ passion
  • Judas as that lost sheep that the Good shepherd lays his life down for?
    • Judas at the Last Supper, shares in the meal before he goes to betray
    • Jesus saying that he loses not of those whom God gives him
  • The paradox in our own lives between faithful discipleship and those times we too fail
Jesus accepts Mary’s gift with grace -
  • Leave her alone!
  • The poor will always be there –
    • Not a loosening of the requirement to care for the poor
    • Deuteronomy 15:11   Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, "Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land."
  • Generosity breeds generosity –
    • that generous spirit that impels Mary to give such an extravagant gift to Jesus reveals a generous heart
    • Judas’s objection reveals a heart that does not love generously
  • Mary anointed Jesus,
    • As King?
    • For his death?
    • Either way – tomorrow is Palm Sunday, six days later Jesus is buried.  The need is now
  • Jesus accepts the gift in the spirit intended – even if Mary may have been not quite sure what her gesture meant
Looking forwards by looking back -
  • The crowd who believed -  and the leaders who plotted to kill not only Jesus but also Lazarus because we can’t have the  sign of God’s glory revealed walking around as witness
  • This is the tension in the whole book of John
    • People loved the darkness instead of the light (John 1)
    • At each sign, some believed, but some didn’t
    • An invitation to come and see,
    • John 20:30-31  30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.  31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name
Lent becomes a pivotal moment on our own stories with God.  We too look forward by looking back.  During Lent –
  • we look back on that which God has done for us
    • and how we expressed our gratitude,
  • back on those moments when we too failed
    • and how God redeems us.
That looking back  turns our eyes forward

  • Resurrection hope
  • learning to live lives of love and service

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