Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Shepastor: "In Search of Heroes..."

Luke 19: 37-44 (NRSV)

37As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38saying,‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!’ 39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’ 40He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.’ 41 As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. 44They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.’

In the work entitled, In Search of Heroes: Tragedy to Triumph, the story is told of how famed deaf, blind and mute Helen Keller was born a bright and lively infant, but at the age of 19 months tragically developed a fever which left her blind and deaf and for a time, mute.

Her parents obviously devastated sought out the best help possible for their daughter. They heard of Perkins School for the Blind in Boston and there found a brilliant, compassionate young teacher named Anne Sullivan. Upon graduation from the school, Anne came to live with the Kellers. Working tirelessly with Helen, Anne frequently met with failure and frustration, but undaunted continued to work with her until one day she had a break through. Helen would go from learning how to say “water” to gaining a command of not only the English language, but other languages and ultimately went on to become a great writer.

Once when asked to give her thoughts on growing old, this is what Helen had to say:

All my life I have tried to avoid ruts, such as doing things my ancestors did before me, or leaning on the crutches of other people's opinion, or losing my childhood sense of wonderment. I am glad to say I still have a vivid curiosity about the world I live is as natural for me to believe that the richest harvest of happiness comes with age as to believe that true sight and hearing are within, not without.... --Helen Keller, on being asked about growing older (In,
In Search of Heroes: Tragedy to Triumph – Helen Keller)

“True sight and hearing are within, not without…”

What a tragedy to have physical eyes to see, yet remain blind. How sad to have the physical ability to hear, but lack the keen awareness of God’s Holy Spirit to be able to hear what God is speaking.

Such was the lot of the scribes and the Pharisees in our text. They had eyes but couldn’t see, ears but couldn’t hear. Even as Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem, palms waiving, crowds shouting, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord...” the religious leaders were not rejoicing. They were not giving God the praise. They were angry. They were envious. They were deaf and blind. Their inability to see God’s presence, see God’s hand of mercy moving, touching, delivering, healing… their rejection of God’s only begotten son, Jesus – their blind and deaf eyes, hearts and perceptions caused Jesus to weep over the city of Jerusalem. Jesus lamented,

“Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace!" They thought Jesus came to hurt them. But He came to heal them. They thought Jesus came to take their place. But Jesus came to give them a place. They thought Jesus came to restore unto them an earthly kingdom, but Jesus came to lead them into the heavenly Kingdom. They thought Jesus came to rob them of their positions of prominence and authority, but Jesus came to teach them what it means to truly be a servant-leader.

How tragic was their plight. How tragic was their deceit. The late missionary Jim Elliot was so right when he declared the words, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” So often we try so hard to hold tightly to things that we ultimately will have to give up. For the Pharisees, they wanted to hold tight to their positions, their perceived power and influence over the people. They were not concerned about soul salvation. They were not concerned about the poor among them. They were not concerned about healing and mending wounded and broken lives. They were only concerned about maintaining power.

How foolish they were! They didn’t realize that in days to come their temple would be destroyed, they would soon go into captivity and be scattered and all their earthly power, fame and fortune would perish. As Jesus looked out over the city, as he looked at their hard hearts and stiff necks, as he looked at their ornate temple and their neatly written scrolls and their prominently displayed laws and traditions he wept. He wept for their ignorance. He wept for their deceit. But most of all he wept because they were missing an opportunity like no other – to meet and know the son of God. God had placed in their midst the long awaited Messiah – the one that had been prophesied about for centuries – the one whom they say they were waiting for, looking for, longing for but they missed it!

How could they miss it? How could they miss Jesus? But before we jump all over the scribes and Pharisees, we must ask ourselves the question – Are we missing Jesus? What is Jesus trying to teach us, to lead us into, deliver us from and we like the Pharisees are refusing to see, hear or receive? What opportunities have we missed because we were too stubborn or stuck in old patterns or dogma or traditions? What lives have we neglected to bless, to touch, to heal because we were too concerned about things that in the final analysis don’t really matter?

Are we missing the things that make for peace? Is Jesus weeping over our lives because we are missing, we are blind to, we are deaf to the moving of His Holy Spirit? This week we mourn the tragedy of denial, betrayal and crucifixion. Next week we celebrate the triumph of victory over death, hell and the grave. But in between this week and next week, we again have an opportunity to prayerfully conduct a deep introspection into our own hearts, our own, souls, our own lives and ask the question, “Is Jesus weeping over my life because I am missing the things that make for peace…” We need to ask ourselves are we missing opportunities to reach out and help somebody, heal somebody, tell somebody about the good news that Jesus died for our sins and that we can be saved by grace through faith.

Are we missing the things that make for peace? Are we arguing about things that don’t really matter in the larger scheme of life? Are we carrying around grudges that we should have given over to the throne a long time ago… are we doggedly holding to our own opinions and perceptions about things without hearing another person out? Are we so wrapped up in our own lives that we cannot see someone who needs a word of encouragement, a lift up out of despair… Are we missing the things that make for peace?

Jesus invites us today to move from tragedy to triumph . What tragedy? – The tragedy of missing God’s best for our lives. Jesus invites us today to move from tragedy – what tragedy – the tragedy of having blind eyes and deaf ears, not hearing or seeing all that God has prepared for us – He’s waiting, He’s looking, He’s watching – Jesus is extending his hand, saying move today from tragedy to triumph. For the moment we surrender to Him, our triumph begins. True heroism, for the child of God, begins with a surrendered life, an open heart, “seeing eyes” and “hearing ears.”

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Until Next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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