CONTROVERSY ALERT! This Gospel reading seems to be one of the most important and also most ignored in the Bible! Jesus says “I have yet many things to say to you, but ye cannot bear them now.” Does that mean that he has more to say, and what he has to say won’t be found in the Bible we own?
If so, then where do we get this additional learning that Jesus has for us? He gives us a clue to that, too!
The Epistle reading for today is one of the most mis-interpreted and mis-used in the entire Bible. It speaks of the importance of obeying secular authorities, such as kings and governors. Or, does it? Does it mean, as some would interpret it, that unjust laws are to be obeyed? Does it mean that people in Nazi occupied territories should have obeyed Hitler? Does it mean that people in the segregated South should have simply obeyed segregationist laws? I would hope not!
It does speak of the importance of fitting in to our communities, and not being people whose obstinacy and obnoxiousness keeps us from being part of society. At the time of the writing, the Christians were trying to become part of the society of the time.
This Sunday’s Gospel reading is one of the most powerful, and it can be difficult to see where to focus a sermon. It includes the words of how he has “sheep which are not of this fold”, which is a good verse to inspire controversy!
But perhaps more significant is how he speaks of himself as the shepherd and others as the hireling. And please note that nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus appoint anyone else as shepherd. In fact, his command to Peter is “Feed my sheep”.
While there are some really wonderful hirelings, we need to beware of those who would claim to be shepherds.
The Gospel for this week is a follow-on to last Sunday’s Gospel. Then, people who came to Jesus’ tomb in the early morning found the tomb empty. Now, it is the evening of the same day, and the disciples are locked in a room, hiding from the people frenzied by the religious powers-that-were in those days. Locked door or no, Jesus is suddenly there with them.
He not only proves that it’s really him, he gives them their basic mission, one which we have to this day.
The Gospel reading is a story that we’re familiar with, but have we really looked at what the story is telling us? Mary Magdalene came to the tomb before dawn, and found the stone rolled away. Did she cheer because Jesus had risen as he said he would? No, she worried that someone had stolen his body. Next, she ran to some disciples who were on their own way to the tomb.
One disciple looked into the tomb and saw the burial clothes without the body. Another walked into the tomb, found the shroud laid in one place, and the napkin which had covered his head neatly placed somewhere else in the tomb. And they went home.
A great gift has been presented to them, and the ones closest to Jesus did not recognize it!
The gospel reading for today is by far one of the longest in the church year, and for the most part, it is one of the better known. But, the Bible often presents more than is obvious, and this is no exception. Two details reveal that there is much more to be known.
That the Temple veil was torn in two says much. But, the veil was not some flimsy fabric. It was a thick, heavy cloth which separated the Holy of Holies from everyone and everything else. If it was torn from top to bottom, it did not happen easily and it might imply something about the relationship between people and God.
That the earthquake caused graves to open and the people in those graves to come alive and appear to people in Jerusalem had to have a powerful implication. Jesus would do that himself soon, but there is no story of it happening before. What might this mean? Some powerful questions for us to ponder!
Things happen during prayer and meditation. But I’ve also noticed some strange preconceived notions about what happens in prayer and meditation. Most often, such ideas are spread by people who have no real experience in either prayer or meditation.
How to get things to really happen? The answer is right out there in front of you. In fact, a popular Beatles song summed up most of it. Some people devote their lives to this pursuit, but here is an introduction to get yours working.