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Where Is He Going?
Sun, Mar 13, 2016

WHERE IS HE GOING?

(JN 12:1-8)

                I am so confused.  Have you heard of the man they call Jesus, a carpenter by trade, from Nazareth?  …..  And yet, it seems to me that he is so much more than that.

                Up until a couple of years ago, I was a follower of John the Baptizer, who preached a message of repentance and returning to the ways of God – a message I felt was both true and greatly needed in our time.

                But then one day, John pointed to another – Jesus, and said “Behold, the Lamb of God,” and bid those of us who had been following him to follow Jesus instead … and so I did.

                I found Jesus to be much quieter and gentler than John, in both his demeanor and his manner of speech … and at times I found him much more difficult to understand.  For instance, one time a Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus came to speak with him, and Jesus told him unless he was “born again,” he would not see the Kingdom of God.  Nicodemus asked him how it was possible for a person to reenter their mother’s womb and be born a second time – to which Jesus said he was talking about being born anew of the Spirit, not of the flesh.  Nicodemus seemed to have a hard time understanding what Jesus meant by this … and, quite frankly, so did I.

                Soon thereafter, we were traveling though Samaria, and we came to Jacob’s well, where we stopped to rest.  A woman came to the well while we were there, and Jesus began speaking to her … speaking to a strange woman in public is just not something we do – especially a Samaritan woman!  And what he said … something about giving her water that would cause her to never be thirsty again – it didn’t make sense!  I began to think perhaps I had made a mistake in electing to follow this Jesus, as John had told me to do.

                But then, sometime later, when we returned to Jerusalem, we came to the Pool of Bethesda, and there was a man laying at the pool’s edge.  Jesus asked him “Do you want to be made well?”  The man said, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool,” to which Jesus replied “Stand up, take your mat, and walk” – and he did!  Now this … this was the sort of thing I had been waiting to see and hear from the one John called the “Lamb of God”!

                Not too long after that, we returned to Galilee, and a large crowd gathered to see Jesus, having heard of the great things he had said and done.  He taught them many things that day - and at one point, realizing the people must be getting hungry, he asked “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?”  …..  It would have taken six months’ wages to buy enough bread to feed the crowd – which numbered in the thousands!  We found a boy that had five barley loaves and two fish he would sell us … but how was that little bit of food, that wasn’t even enough to feed ourselves, going to help us?! 

                Jesus told us to sit down, blessed the fish and the loaves, and began to distribute them – with no apparent concern for how little food it was for so many.  But then, as the crowd saw his willingness to share what little we had, they began to do likewise, one pulling a loaf of bread from the folds of their robe, another a fish, another some dates, another a wineskin … and lo and behold, not only was there enough to feed everyone – there were leftovers that had to be gathered up and put into baskets!  Never before had I seen one person touch the hearts of so many to be so generous, even with those they did not know.

                As we departed Galilee and headed toward Jerusalem, for the time of the Passover was growing near, we came upon a man who was blind from birth.  Someone asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus answered, “Neither … he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.”  Jesus knelt down, spit in the dust, made some mud, put it on the man’s eyes, and told him to go wash in a nearby pool.  The man did this, and he could see – he could see!  …..  The Lamb of God.

                But then, as we arrived in Bethany, just outside of Jerusalem, and stayed with Jesus’ friend, Lazarus, and his sisters, Mary and Martha, at the evening meal, Mary anointed Jesus’ travel weary feet with some sweet smelling and, I suspect, very costly perfume.  I thought it was a nice gesture on the part of our hosts, acknowledging Jesus as their special guest of honor.  But Judas, the one among our group of followers who kept our common purse and saw to our expenses, said “Why was this perfume not sold and the money given to the poor?”  …..  An awkward silence fell over the room, and then Jesus said, “Leave her alone.  She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.  You will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.”

                This is not the first time Jesus has spoken of his death and burial … but we have come so far, and touched the lives of so many – how can he speak of such things now?  And to say we will have the poor with us always … if that is the case – then why have we worked so hard to feed the hearts and souls of so many over these past three years? 

                And what does he mean “you will not always have me”?  We are about to enter Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, and it seems to me that with each passing day Jesus’ power grows, and I feel in my heart that this Passover will somehow be like no other Passover we have ever known before.  If this is the case … and I believe it is – perhaps Jesus is about to finally claim his rightful place among our people as God’s Anointed, our long awaited Messiah.  So what does he mean “you will not always have me?”  Where is he going?  One thing I know - wherever it is, I will go with him … no matter what.

                And now, you’ll have to excuse me – I need to help with the preparations for our going to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. 

                If you don’t already have other plans, you are more than welcome to join us.  …..  Come … come …