I’ve contemplated putting my sermons back on here, but haven’t been too sure if I feel like it or not. So here’s yesterdays, just for kicks! 🙂

“Gathering Us Together”
March 4, 2007, Luke 13:31-35

Some things that appear dangerous are actually much less hazardous than their safer-looking alternative. Commercial airline travel, for instance, is 30 times safer than transportation by car. It may not seem that way to the person who would rather fight rush hour traffic on the ground than ride a solitary Boeing 747 at 35,000 feet. Now this is old data, but out of 5 million scheduled commercial flights in 1982, only 5 resulted in fatal accidents. Yet people die every minute in car accidents in North America. Being carried by tons of metal thrust through the air by huge jet engines is actually safer than being pulled along in an 6-cylinder machine that never leaves the ground. (From Our Daily Bread)

It’s all about perception. In an airplane we’re completely turning our trust over to people we have never met. We assume the pilot has had thousands of hours in the cockpit. We assume the ground crew has securely closed all the doors and filled the plane with fuel. We assume the plane has been inspected thoroughly and is in perfect working order. Yet people are still terrified of flying, mostly because we’re 35,000 feet in the air and have no control over the situation. When we’re in our cars, we feel we have control.

We’re driving, or are driving with someone we trust. We feel the car is in good working order. We can control the speed at which we travel, and which roads we take. But we can’t control the thousands of other drivers on the road. Are they able to drive? Is their car in good working order? Statistics may indicate otherwise.

We tend to be more comfortable in situations where we feel we are in control. And what happens when we feel control slip away? We get nervous, anxious, scared of what might happen.

In our reading from Luke today, we see how the Pharisees are attempting to move Jesus along. Why do they care if Herod is wanting to kill Jesus? Does Herod really want to kill Jesus? We know that some of the Pharisees have problems with Jesus’ ministry. Not all, but some. Jesus is currently in Galilee, a region under Roman rule. So are the Pharisees trying to get Jesus to a safer place… or are they trying to get him to reduce his public profile?

Scholars are mixed in their response to this. Some say they were trying to drive him underground, to get out of the public eye. Other scholars say the Pharisees are trying to move Jesus into Judea, where they have greater influence, trying to bring Jesus into their control. Many note that this warning may be an honest warning. Afterall, Herod did kill John the Baptist rather gruesomely. Although I’m not sure about this, Herod was under a lot pressure to behead John.

So we aren’t sure of the Pharisees’ motive for such a warning. Jesus’ response may be an indication however. First he says “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work.’”

Jesus might be saying, “You know Herod, today’s not a good day for me. Tomorrow’s not looking too good either. Maybe we could arrange for a meeting later in the week! But then again, I need to be on my way to Jerusalem. So sorry I can’t stick around and chat!”

Jesus knows and predicts what will happen in Jerusalem, and that it won’t happen before. Jesus knows he faces his death upon entering Jerusalem. He also knows that it will not be Herod who kills him, but Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem!”

Jesus laments over the city, showing his love for its people, and also his disappointment. Jesus wishes he could bring all people together and protect them, but not everyone wants to accept him for who he is.

There are of course many reasons for people’s reluctance to hear Christ’s words. The Pharisees who opposed him would have been focusing on laws, and how Jesus was breaking them. Other people would have problems in making the sacrifices Jesus demands for discipleship. This one sounds a little more familiar to us today doesn’t it? And Jesus continues on his way to the city that will kill him.

This past week we’ve heard of a documentary that assumes it has found the ossuary or remains of Christ and his family. Bone boxes found with common names of the time in an ancient tomb. Scholars are quick to trash the claims of the documentary. I don’t believe it for a number of reasons. First of all, the risen Christ left no earthly remains, he ascended into heaven! He was even laid in a borrowed tomb when he was taken from the cross. His family didn’t have it’s own tomb, Mary and Joseph couldn’t afford it.

Another reason I am suspicious is the timing of the release of the documentary. And how we’ve never heard of the story until just days before the documentary airs! Last year the Gospel of Judah was “found” just before Easter. And last summer one of the well-known scholars admitted that they were probably wrong with their results. But not too many heard that story now did they?

If there was somehow some sort of validity to this story, I would think the story would have been leaked long ago! I mean politicians can’t keep simple secrets about election calls or policy issues, so how could someone not let slip they were working on a documentary about finding the remains of Jesus Christ? A finding that could potentially destroy Christianity.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem!”

I can hear Jesus now. “How I wish I could gather you all together like a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing.” Jesus wants to protect us from such things that make us doubt our faith. He wants to sit and teach us about God’s kingdom and the glory found there. Yet we are often torn as things plant doubts in our minds about what it means to live a Christian life. Things like documentaries and books claiming Jesus never rose from the dead. So what are we to do when such strong campaigns are run in the face of Christianity? We need to be strong and speak about our faith all the more.

If Jesus never rose from the dead, how does that impact us? Is it even something we can comprehend? I can’t. Jesus has been an integral part of my life for 6 years now. I am a new man because of what he has done in me. I don’t know about the rest of you, But if Christ had not come into my heart, transforming me into who I am today, it wouldn’t have happened.
I wasn’t a bad person, but I was focused on selfish things. My job, my possessions, my bank account, me, winning this game called life. Not that I didn’t care about others, I still helped out where I could. I was just focused on getting as far ahead in life as I could. Jesus taught me it isn’t this life I need to gain, but an eternal life with God through the risen Christ.

Jesus died for a reason. He healed many in his time on earth, but he’s healed many, many more in his death. People who today follow his teachings. He died for our sins, he took all that is wrong in this world onto himself. Yet we still struggle to follow him. We like to try and keep control of things. We like to think we are have the big picture in mind, and know what is best for ourselves.

The same kind of thinking the Pharisees had in mind when they felt challenged by this wandering prophet named Jesus. They didn’t understand what he was saying. They didn’t listen to the meaning behind the words challenging their authority. They didn’t hear the grace of God in his teachings. They were worried about losing face in society as people turned and praised him instead of themselves. They were too busy trying to find a way to keep Jesus from becoming too popular. Maybe too busy trying to make a profit off of Jesus’ popularity? Like documentaries and books? Instead of sharing the grace of God, spreading the Good News of the Gospel?

As Paul wrote to the Philippians, “…their god is in their belly, their glory is in their shame, and minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory.” (Philippians 3:19-21)

Christianity is more than just saying you think God exists. Christianity is welcoming the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ into your heart. Allowing Jesus Christ to transform you into his disciple. Changing you, turning you away from the destructive things in your life. Which could be anything. Drugs and alcoholism are obvious, but it also could be minor things. Maybe something as simple as the shows you watch, I don’t know… we all have our own vices.

But turning to Christ can help us overcome things that hurt us. As Jesus tells all those who hear his words this morning… “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”

We are blessed to be here, where Christ gathers us and watches over us, teaches us and grants us peace.