Driving at Night April 21, 2019 Rev. Donald W. Hackett, D.Min.        

Matthew 20:24-34

Centre Presbyterian Church New Park, PA        https://centrechurchpa.org

Faith Conversations with Children

Driving at Night

  • What is important to do when your parents drive at night?
  • What helps you get there?
  • Following Jesus is like driving at night…we see just a little bit of the road at time.  We see just enough to get where we want to go. 
  • Prayer:  Thank you Jesus the Christ that you are the Light that will lead us through this live and home to you in the next.  Amen.
  • Source of idea:It’s like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.   E. L. Doctorow E. L. Doctorow    https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/e_l_doctorow

Introduction

Did you ever get into an argument with someone in your family just as you are going out the door?  Better yet, did you ever get into a conflict on your way to church?  That is always fun, isn’t it.  “Alright, we will talk about this later.  Just smile and be nice to everyone.  OK?!”  Sound familiar?  We have all been in those situations!  I love it when someone is really mad and the phone rings, and they can change their tone and demeanor in an instant.  Today on this Easter Sunday, we are going to look at the troubles the disciples of Jesus Christ had on the way to Easter and what it tells us about following our Lord today.  

Background

Jesus had left his home base in Galilee and now entered the final stage of his mission. As he headed through Jericho, he encountered Zacchaeus.  Jesus calls him by name and invites himself to Zacchaeus’ home. All along the way he is telling his disciples the secret plan:

“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”  Matthew 20:17-19

This did not make sense to the disciples.  It confused them.  Two of the disciples had their mother ask Jesus about saving positions of honor for her two sons.  When the others heard of this they started arguing about who would be the greatest in this new kingdom.  Jesus had to remind them why he came and what their job would be.  Join me in reading the passage in your bulletin. 

Scripture Reading                                               Matthew 20:24-34

When the ten others heard about this, they lost their tempers, thoroughly disgusted with the two brothers. So Jesus got them together to settle things down. 

He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. 

That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”

As they were leaving Jericho, a huge crowd followed. Suddenly they came upon two blind men sitting alongside the road. When they heard it was Jesus passing, they cried out, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!” The crowd tried to hush them up, but they got all the louder, crying, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!”

Jesus stopped and called over, “What do you want from me?”

They said, “Master, we want our eyes opened. We want to see!”

Deeply moved, Jesus touched their eyes. They had their sight back that very instant, and joined the procession.

1. Following Jesus Christ – Confusing 

Following Jesus can be confusing. We start in the dark and light slowly comes. This is what we see in journey of his disciples.  They had been with Jesus for three years and still they are trying to figure him out.  He would teach and heal in wonderful ways and then tell them he was going be killed by the religious leaders.  Little by little the light of understanding would come to them, but only enough to take the next step.  Also, living in community of disciples was not easy.  Our text says: When the ten others heard about this, they lost their tempers, thoroughly disgusted with the two brothers. So Jesus got them together to settle things down. These disciples followed the best they could, but they often had more questions than answers.

Follow Jesus is like driving down a back road at night.  You cannot see the whole road, just part of the road that is right in front of you.  That is all we really need, right?  If God showed us the whole scope of our journeys ahead of time, we might run away.  God in his wisdom leads you and me by his Holy Spirit one day at a time, one step at a time.  We may be unclear about what is next, but we trust the one we are following.  We know Jesus Christ will lead us to the people and places we need to go, what we need to learn, and how we are to serve.  Where are you in your life’s journey? Following Jesus Christ is confusing. What will help you follow God today and do the next right thing?

2. Following Jesus Christ – Hard

Following Jesus can be very hard. Like you and me the disciples wanted their lives to count.  By following Rabbi Jesus they would gain wisdom, status, and power not typically available to ordinary workmen. Little did they know how hard it would be to follow Jesus.  All through his three year ministry they kept on the move.  Jesus and his crew went from town to town teaching, healing, and interacting with friends and foes alike.  As Jesus became more popular, his band of followers had more logistical work to do: arranging transportation, finding places to lodge and eat, praying for those who came for help, and handling whatever the Master asked them to do.  Instead of gaining power and prestige, they were learning to serve people they did not even know. They were hoping for the day when they would be high officials in the court of the King Jesus.  Jesus the Son of God told them: Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. Jesus invited them (now us) to care for those who the rest of the world had forgotten.

What is hardest about following Jesus in that he wants to radically transform us from the inside out. Like a caterpillar that becomes a butterfly, we are destined to become much more than we are now.  Following Jesus requires we die to our prideful selves so we can emerge and grow into our holy and mature selves.  

  • When our ego is pushed to the side and we admit our need for God in all situations, we become strong. 
  • When we give up our power and enter weakness,  God’s power flows in us.
  • When we surrender our cravings for attention and fulfillment, God’s meets our deepest needs and desires. 

Jesus exchanged his life so we could go free.  What needs to die in you and me today so we can enter the freedom Jesus offers us today? 

3. Following Jesus Christ – Right Choice

Following Jesus Christ can be confusing, can be very hard, but ultimately is it the right choice and the best path.

I love what happens as Jesus and the disciples are leaving Jericho on this pre-Easter parade:

As they were leaving Jericho, a huge crowd followed. Suddenly they came upon two blind men sitting alongside the road. When they heard it was Jesus passing, they cried out, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!” The crowd tried to hush them up, but they got all the louder, crying, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!”

This two men were not going to be denied an opportunity to meet Jesus. They had heard about Jesus and knew if anyone could help them, Jesus could.  They shouted for help, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!”  They were already proclaiming what the people in Jerusalem shout would shout on Palm Sunday. The crowd around them tried to hush them, but they persisted. Let’s pause here for a moment.  The text read: “The crowd tried to hush them up”.  

Why would the people do that?  

  • Were they embarrassed by these town beggars?  
  • Did blind people really not matter?  
  • Were these two men not important or valuable enough for Rabi Jesus to bother with them?  

There are three LIES we have been told since evil entered the world:

  1. You are valued for what you do.
  2. You are valued for what you own.
  3. You are what others say of you.

These are all lies because they are not true.  Jesus Christ came into the world to turn those lies on their heads.  He did through his ministry and here he does it again.  What could these men do?  Nothing, except beg and that was a nuisance.

What did this men own?  Likely nothing except the clothes on their back and the bowls in their hands.  What did others say of them?  “Hush you no good beggar.  Jesus does not have time for you!”  So the three lies had these men in bondage with no clear way out.  Then comes along Jesus the Christ. 

1. Does Jesus care what this men do?  Jesus heard their cry for him and he responded for he is the good shepherd who cares for his sheep.  They were deeply valued for each was a beloved creation and child of God. We are valued because we belong to God.  That is where you and I find our worth.  Jesus makes us worthy of deep love.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you are not worthy of love.  Everyone have deep value and is worthy of love.

2. Does Jesus care what these men own?  Jesus knows these men came into the would with nothing and would leave with nothing.  Jesus is the owner and master of the whole universe.  Jesus’s desire is to own their hearts and affection. Jesus’s desire is to win our hearts and affection. Jesus want them and us to be a part of his Kingdom. What we own is not ours.  We are managers of whatever resources we have been given.  When Jesus is first in our hearts, then all we have is at his disposal to bless the world. What is Jesus inviting you and me to give today?

3.  Does Jesus care what others say?   What matters is what Jesus says.  These men wanted to see and Jesus wanted to help.  He restored their vision but also gave them their very lives. Once healed these two men join the procession in following Jesus.  Two more sheep were restored.  We know it can be confusing and it can be hard, but it is the only way to really live. What will help you and to join them in following Jesus today?  Let us pray:  Gracious God, we come this Easter Sunday to worship and to follow your Son and our Lord Jesus Christ.  Show us by your Holy Spirit how to do that in ways that will honor you, free us, and bless all we come into contact with each day.  In Christ, Amen.

Benediction

I was sent this John O’Donohue poem and I think it’s a great Easter message, this life of possibility we have on the other side of the cross; the new freedom we have because of Jesus.

“To Come Home to Yourself”

May all that is unforgiven in you

Be released.

May your fears yield

Their deepest tranquilities.

May all that is unlived in you

Blossom into a future

Graced with Love.