Tell us plainly – are you the Messiah, or not?
This question oozes with impatience. How often do we find ourselves with the same attitude? We want answers! Yes or No?!? Right or Wrong?!? Black or White?!? We like answers. We don’t like ambiguity. Jesus, can’t you just answer a simple question?
How does he answer this question? Jesus points to his acts of grace – to his works and he asks his questioners (us) a counter-question – what have you experienced? Have we experienced Jesus as the Messiah? Have you experienced Jesus’ presence during different times in your life; have you experienced Jesus in the Sacraments; have you experienced Jesus’ love and grace through others who have reached out to you? That is the answer to the question! So is Jesus the Messiah? Well, what does your experience tell you?
One way we have of seeking the answer is to look for supernatural acts. And in fact we often get caught up looking for the supernatural. Like Elijah, we expect God to come to us through Jesus in the earthquake, the storm, in lightning and thunder, power and glory – through great and glorious wonders. But, over and over again we see that in the Bible and especially through the life and ministry of Jesus, that God prefers to come to God’s people through mundane, quiet, everyday experiences. God comes to Elijah through a “still, small voice.” God comes to us through bread and wine, through a gentle touch, through a kind gesture, through a loving deed.
This Sunday is “Good Shepherd” Sunday. Not many of us make our livings as professional shepherds anymore. But yet the image remains powerful one, as the words of Psalm 23 make plain: The Lord is my Shepherd… he makes me lie down by still waters, he leads me along right pathways…. Ultimately this Good Shepherd has been willing to die for those whom he loves. So, he dies, is crucified and is raised on the 3rd day. In this way he can continue to be ever present with us forever, throughout our lives.
God is present with us – through Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Jesus says, The Father and I are one. Whatever Jesus does, God does. God reaches out to us as the Good Shepherd, through Jesus. God dies on the cross – God raises again on the 3rd day – through Jesus. This is what is at the heart of our joyous celebration of Easter; this is the promise which is given us in Baptism: Through Jesus, God will shepherd us, and love us and be present with us forever, throughout everything. We may not always recognize His presence – but it is there.
So…. Tell us plainly: Jesus, the Good Shepherd is the Messiah, the Christ! Amen!
Tiny Desk Sermon: Proper 16 A, Isaiah 51:1-6 - Tiny desk sermon, an impromptu first reflection on the texts for Sunday, August 21.
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