The Story of James | Riptide (Part 6)

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hey well good morning everyone that’s good you know the first service did the same thing good morning I love it uh you know here we are memorial day weekend and I loved what how alex introduced memorial day I I love memorial day one because it’s kind of a kickoff to summer uh two yeah I do remember with gratefulness uh the cost that people paid for for us to be able to do this right now and I’m very grateful for that and there’s a third thing that I’m also very thankful for and that is as I am a citizen of God’s kingdom I think of the people that have come before us to be able to pave the way for our faith to be able to have something like this today to be able to have grown uh into the influence that it is in this world um you know I just have a a little uh home I guess home business here family business and that’s just to let you know that one of those folks who has meant so much to our fellowship here at south went home to be with the lord on friday night and her name was ann cresswell many of you may remember ann and neil they were here for many years involved in so many ways neil passed away about a year ago the thing I always remember about neil you know you just kind of wait on a sunday to see if he’d he’d invite you to go to the broncos game with him or or even if you were really special you get to go to the abs game with him and um you know it was interesting because I was talking to julie uh ann’s daughter on friday night she passed away about 6 30 and we were talking about it and and julie was able to say she passed away very peacefully and and she said you know I can just picture moms he’s up there seeing Jesus finally this is what she wanted and she was so looking forward to seeing dad again and then she paused and she said let’s wait it’s 6 30. you know dad’s probably watching the abs game right now and he’s saying why don’t you wait

who knows if you knew neil you know that uh we are going to be having her service uh next sunday afternoon at four o’clock right here at the church you’re all invited to come if you would like to uh you know this morning I’m going to be looking at one of those strong roots in our faith uh one of those characters who kind of paved the way and and I have to admit there’s not an awful lot written about this character um I’ve loved the series that alex has been doing of going through post-resurrection appearances so let’s take a look at what alex has looked at so far mary magdalene cleopas thomas peter and you know he’s done a great job with these alliterations darkness for mary magdalene you can just picture that shadow upon her uh clayopa says he and his companion are walking the road to emmaus just the defeat that they’re feeling thomas and we always know thomas for doubting and peter his despair knowing that he had denied his savior but Jesus reinvested in in peter as I thought about the character for the day I’ve tried to come up with a name another d and um you know as I think of these characters all of them were followers of Jesus christ

and they would have such disillusionment during that time of seeing that Jesus was crucified and what’s going to happen in the future now the character we’re going to look at today did not believe that Jesus was the messiah and yet the character we’re going to look at today was probably closer to Jesus than any of these followers on this screen um I’m going to go to a passage that paul talks about in first corinthians chapter 15. and I’m going to try I’m going to be jumping all over the place so I will try to give you the little address for these verses but also I’ll be plopping them up on the screen and to tell you the truth the verses don’t say that much so don’t you have something to look forward to okay first corinthians 15 paul says these words

he was buried he was raised from the dead on the third day just as the scripture said he was seen by peter and then by the twelve and after that he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time most of whom are still alive though some have died you know just think about that and we don’t have any recording of that in the bible outside of this but there was some time when Jesus met with 500 people after his resurrection and those 500 people all saw him in living faith that’s kind of amazing then he was seen by james and later by all the apostles and guess what the character we’re going to look at is james and those six words are basically the only description we have of this post-resurrection appearance you know when you think of mary magdalene you see her at the grave and you see how Jesus came and comforted her when you think of peter you think him by the fire and how Jesus reinstated him he was seen by james and that’s it and so we have to start with this question who’s this james who is james um now there are about three james’s in the new testament that are met there’s actually four but one of them kind of sneaks in there because it says joseph the son of james and that’s all we hear and so I just disregard him but the other three james’s one is james the son of alpheus one is james the son of zebedee and both of them are disciples of Jesus christ of Jesus um james the son of zebedee was a brother of john they were known as sons of thunder they would call fire down on people and stuff like that james the son of alpheus was known as james the lesser maybe he was shorter maybe he was younger we don’t know but both of them are disciples and look at what it says he was seen by peter and then by the twelve so they’re included in that group this james is some other james that comes out in the new testament so let me take you to a verse in matthew and uh you know alex is very good at explaining matthew is one of the biographies of Jesus his life we’ve got four biographies matthew mark luke and john each one of them focused upon Jesus but you know it’s so fascinating sometimes they look at the same events and it’s almost word for word sometimes they look at the same event you’re wondering is this the same event and you begin to realize they’re looking through different eyes at these events um hopefully we’re going to see some of that today but let’s uh let’s jump to matthew and see what he says he returned to nazareth his hometown this is Jesus when Jesus taught there in the synagogue everyone was amazed and said where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles and then they scoffed oh he’s just the carpenter’s son we know mary his mother and his brothers james oh james joseph simon and judas all his sisters live right here among us where did he learn all these things that’s the james we’re going to be looking at james the brother of Jesus and you know when you look at this and you realize wow Jesus had four brothers and it doesn’t even tell us the number of sisters just as all his sisters live here you know I don’t know about you but I’ve always kind of pictured Jesus family as that nice little nativity scene you know the three of them together and somewhere along the lines joseph dies and then it’s mary and Jesus but no it was this whole group in Jesus family um so let’s kind of take a look at the interaction that Jesus had with his family and to begin with I’m going to go back to the gospel of mark or to the biography that mark has of Jesus life and we’re going to go about maybe a year before this incident but it’s still in his hometown of nazareth here we go he returned to nazareth his hometown when he taught there in the synagogue oh you know what this is the same passage and I just wanted to point out the next verse the town was deeply offended and refused to believe him

the question I would ask us when we see that reaction of the town toward Jesus I wonder how easy it was to be in the family of Jesus I wonder what it was like I mean first you asked the question what’s it like to have Jesus as a brother but secondly he asked what’s it like to have Jesus in your family and he’s going around in this ministry and you’re seeing how the reactions are starting to come in well now we’re going to go to mark now we’re going to go about a year ahead and we’re going to go back to nazareth here’s what we’re going to see then Jesus mother and brothers came to see him they stood outside they sent word for him to come out and talk with them there was a crowd sitting around Jesus and someone said your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you this is one of those verses that gives a reference to the family of Jesus to the brothers and there’s I believe james is right there in the middle in fact when you look at that list james was the next one after Jesus so he probably was the oldest brother in this group right now as they’re going to go see Jesus all well and good they’re going to go see Jesus but 10 verses earlier we get a little insight into what’s motivating them to go you know I almost picture mary grabbing her boy and saying I think we need to go see Jesus across town he’s in a house over there here’s what we read earlier one time Jesus entered a house and the crowds began to gather again soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat and when his family heard what was happening they tried to take him away he’s out of his mind they said that’s a pretty harsh thing to say and I thought well maybe they might have said oh he’s just you know he’s being pressured too much he’s a little imbalanced but no the word means loony he’s he’s out of his mind he’s he’s lost his senses and I have to admit now I’m just speculating because we don’t have any other input into this but I’m speculating that mary did not think Jesus was out of his mind and the reason I speculate that is because mary had the inside scoop I mean she remembers gabriel coming to her and saying you have been chosen to give birth to the messiah your child is going to do this and this and and she treasured those things in her heart and I’m sure she had to wrestle with those things as well I kind of sense that mary may have said okay boys I I hear that your brother it might be a little bit in over his head let’s go and let’s go help him let’s go just to bring him home so he can have some rest and I can almost hear the brothers oh Jesus again you mean we’ve got to go rescue Jesus again

he’s he’s just pushing this thing too far mom he’s out of his mind he’s out of his mind well they take the journey across town and they come back to the house and we’re going to pick it up again in those verses we read earlier and someone said your mother your brothers are outside asking for you and Jesus replied who’s my mother who are my brothers then he looked at those around him and he said look these are my mothers and brothers anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother I don’t know about you but whenever I’ve read that verse I thought Jesus you’re being kind of hard on your family I mean they’re coming to see you they want to talk to you and you kind of just put them down

again I I speculate here but as I’ve been working on this this sermon it’s just been fascinating as I see this character james come alive more and more and I really believe what Jesus is saying here is my brothers don’t really believe God’s will for my life my brothers have really not accepted what God has made has called me to do to be the messiah

my family are those people who do believe who do step in there with me well I’m going to go about three chapters later and this is going to be a parallel passage to what we read in matthew earlier uh this is about a year later in Jesus ministry he’s back in nazareth and you’re going to say well these verses sound very similar let’s see Jesus left that part of the country returned with his disciples to nazareth his hometown the next sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue and many who heard him were amazed and they asked where did he get all such this wisdom and this power to perform such miracles and then they scoffed well he’s just a carpenter he’s the son of mary and the brother of james and joseph and judas and simon and his sisters live here right among us and they were deeply offended and they refused to believe in him now I don’t expect all of you to remember the exact verbiage that matthew used but the only difference between these two verses is in the first in matthew they said oh he’s just the carpenter’s son in this one they say oh he’s just a carpenter and and the town was offended by him

but what’s interesting interesting to me about this passage in mark are the next verses that come here’s how Jesus responds and Jesus told them a prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family and I read that and I realized wow Jesus brothers and sisters struggled with what he said he was to be about and they did not honor him and I can just see james right up there at the top of the list having a problem with Jesus let me just say what would it be like what would it be like to have Jesus as your brother think about that for a while we’re going to go to another passage there’s only like three passages that mention the family of Jesus and and and james would be in that family this is in john john’s biography in john chapter seven and this would be about six months maybe before Jesus is crucified so it’s kind of in that last year it’s toward the end of his ministry after this Jesus traveled around galilee he wanted to stay out of judeo where the jewish leaders were plotting his death but soon it was time for the jewish festival of shelters and Jesus brother said to him leave here and go to judea where your followers can see your miracles you can’t become famous if you hide like this if you can do all these wonderful things show yourself to the world so here’s the setting the festival of shelters of the festival of tabernacles is getting ready to happen in jerusalem and that’s when it was one of the three major festivals and as many jews as possible could come and they would just fill jerusalem and this was a very celebratory festival now the brothers are to go down there and you know as I read this I tried to read it as sincerely as I could but let me re-read it because I really think this is how they spoke these words leave here and go to judea where your followers can see your miracles you can’t become famous if you hide like this if you can really do such wonderful things well then hey it’s about time you show yourself to the world

and the reason I think that’s the case is because of the next verse for even his brothers did not believe in him so here you’ve got this scenario here is james and here are the three other brothers and they’re kind of chiding Jesus they’re taunting him they’re saying oh come on go down if you can do all these miracle workers that we that we hear about go and do it in jerusalem where everybody will watch

I wonder how that hurt

those are the three passages that we have about james and about the family of Jesus and you’re probably saying that’s not much it isn’t but it’s enough to show james does not believe in his brother james was cynical enough to taunt his brother james did not honor the calling that God had on his brother’s life but james was still his brother there’s one more passage that kind of gives us a little hint even though it doesn’t mention james or the other brothers and that’s found at the end of john it’s this standing near the cross where Jesus mother his mother’s sister mary the wife of clopas and mary magdalene and when Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved which would be john he said to her dear woman here’s your son and he said to this disciple here’s your mother and from then on this disciple took her into his home

two questions where’s

where james the other brothers and and you know when I ask that I can be kind of hard on them I would not want to stand at my brother’s crucifixion I love my brother so much and I idolized my brother

but I would tell you if my brother was dying or if a loved one of my brother was dying and my brother was in pain I’d be there I would be there to walk with him through that james is not there with Jesus james is not there with his mother and so you have this transfer when Jesus looks down and says john this is your mother now wow so I come to that question what’s so hard about being Jesus brother

what is so hard about having a brother who’s perfect

anybody want to take a stab at that one can you imagine can you imagine if you had a brother that was perfect now like I told you I idolized my brother in fact it makes me laugh it makes carrie laugh too but when I look back when I entered high school I tried to pattern my life after my brother he was four years older and I ran for student council I ran for this and that I did all and I played football just like my brother did when I went to college I did just like my brother did it kind of changed after that but um still I I really idolized my brother but boy what what if your brother was perfect and you had a mom who kept saying you know Jesus did it this way

that would wear after a while what if what if your brother or your sibling was like luke 2 52 Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people wow talk about a popularity I mean talk about being in the shadow of your brother

maybe a third reason what’s it like to have a sibling who leaves the family business for whatever this pipe dream is that he’s got and you’re left there trying to keep the carpentry shop open

I don’t know you know we can speculate about all of that

but let me give you one last verse it’s the verse that we went to in the very beginning in first corinthians 15 what changed it all he was buried he was raised from the dead on the third day just as the scripture said and then he was seen by james and later by all the apostles and that moment was a moment of the beginning of transformation

and I would just remind each and every one of us who’s sitting here and when I point at each of you I’ve got three pointing back at me to remind me Jesus came to us in our unbelief Jesus did not abandon us with our questions Jesus did not abandon us when we said no to him he was there and he was working in us and he was bringing about conviction and he was bringing about truth Jesus was there in our unbelief just like he came to james in his disbelief I think of an individual who’s been very impactful in my life and I think probably most of you would know this guy this fella but there may be some of you who don’t his name is charles coulson charles coulson was a rising star he was uh as a young man he studied law came out and had a very successful law practice and then he got involved in politics and he was a right hand to richard nixon during his administration and he was known as the hatchet man the hatchet man for richard nixon in other words he’s the guy that did all the dirty political tricks and he knows many times when we think of richard nixon’s administration that’s what we think of first and foremost we think of watergate and charles coulson was the mastermind of watergate of going and trying to steal these records from the democratic party he tried to defame and discredit so many others who were in the opposing side well finally things began to catch up with him things began to close in on him he got scared and he ended up leaving the administration he ended up quitting and he went back to law but things did not stop the news got tighter and tighter when he was back there in law he realized he didn’t know how much longer he would have he went to a friend’s house who he was uh preparing a court case for and while he was there he said boy I’m scared and this friend said well let’s talk and so we shared a little bit about how the how all the evidence was starting to mount up against him and his friend went over to his library picked up a book it was called mere christianity by c.s lewis and he opened it up to a chapter and he read the chapter to chuck colson and it was the chapter on the pride of man how pride can fill us and can kind of blind us to the actions we do and we can do horrible things the prouder and prouder we get and it can keep us from seeing the God who loves us and when he finished reading that chapter

he looked at colson and he said can I pray for you and chuck colson said no but I’ll take the book so he took the book and he left uh God had never been in a place in his life he got out he got in his car he drove out he didn’t make it much more than a mile when he had to pull off the road because his eyes were full of tears and he said he sat in that car and he wept for an hour and he wept and after a while of weeping he began to cry out to God he said God if you’re real God if you’re here in this room in this car please I surrender to you I don’t know how you can make anything out of the mess of my life I’ve made it but I surrender to you and I just ask you yeah do it

you look at this picture this picture was taken like eight months after he made that confession of faith eight months after he’d been a christian eight months later he was convicted of his crimes he was put into prison eight months later he was put into trial and you know because of what had happened in his life he realized he was guilty and he pleaded guilty and his lawyer said don’t do that you’re going to just impinge on everybody else but he pleaded guilty and he went into prison I show you this picture so you realize when Jesus christ enters our life it doesn’t erase the consequences of what we’ve done

but he sure walks with us into those consequences and helps us face him and to bring healing and restoration and the same is true of his brother the same is true of his brother who was cynical about him who taunted him who doubted him who did not believe in him who did not honor him who did not believe that God had a special purpose for him but when he revealed himself to james a transformation began taking place

you know I believe this next verse I’m going to show you probably happened about maybe 30 35 days after this verse because it took place right at the ascension when Jesus met with his disciples and he ascended up into heaven and then it says then the apostles returned to jerusalem from the mount of olives a distance of about a half a mile and when they arrived they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying they all met together they were constantly united in prayer along with mary the mother of Jesus several other women and the brothers of Jesus the brothers who cynically denied their brother they were now with the other disciples together they were praying united I believe that james went with that with that meeting that he had with Jesus and I don’t know what happened in that meeting all it says was Jesus appeared to james I’d kind of like to think Jesus went up and gave him a big hug I mean maybe he said surprise

but he gave him a big hug I don’t think he said do you believe now

no I think he said to him james I want you to be on my team

come follow me and james and his brothers are there in those initial days we’re going to jump around to some other verses but let me just say that just a few days after this on the day of pentecost it says that the 120 the same 120 that were here on this day the same 120 were in the upper room and the holy spirit came down upon them and I just pictured james going out in the street for the first time in his life talking about his brother in positive ways and sharing the truth of what his brother had done wow but there’s still some other verses afterwards what happened to james I mean what took place um and again they’re just inferences there’s nothing that really has a biography of james we don’t see any long passages but we see people referring to him and the first one we see is in the book of galatians and it’s from paul the apostle paul and basically he’s talking about after his conversion uh when he had that marvelous conversion on the road to damascus and then he went down into arabia for a while and then he came back and then it says he went down to jerusalem and this was probably about maybe six seven years after these verses on the ascension this is what we read three years later I went to jerusalem to get to know peter and I stayed within 15 days and the only other apostle I met at that time was james the lord’s brother all of a sudden james is an apostle wow this guy who was cynically denying Jesus now he’s an apostle there in jerusalem somebody else mentions james and it’s probably about four or five years later after this occurred and it was peter and if you read in acts chapter 12 right in the very beginning it tells us that there’s another james james the son of zebedee james the son of thunder who is executed king herod imprisoned him and executed him and he was so amazed at the popular outcry that the jews gave that he went out and arrested peter and he thought I’m going to do the same thing win a few points with these jews but that night the angel of the lord came and freed peter from that prison and peter walked out and it’s funny when you read it read acts chapter 12 sometimes because peter’s walking out there says man I don’t I don’t even believe what happened and he finally gets his senses and he walks over to where he knows some believers are and he knocks on the door and the little server girl comes and she looks through the the opening and she sees peter says oh my goodness he runs back because they’re having a prayer meeting praying that peter would be delivered from prison and she tells him and everybody looks and says you’re nuts and they’re praying that he’d be delivered and there he is finally if he convinces them to come to the door they come to the door and there’s peter and they’re all rejoicing and they’re excited and then peter comes and tells him everything about how he was delivered from prison and then peter says these interesting words tell james and the other brothers what happened tell james what happened isn’t it interesting the first person peter says is tell james james seems to be rising in some kind of importance going on here the cynical disbelieving brother I’m going to go back to another thing that paul said this is in galatians but paul has now gone on his first missionary journey he’s gone out there and all these gentiles have come and and believed in Jesus christ and and paul is left with kind of an issue because wow do you tell him hey you’re now following christ but you know he was jewish you got to be like the jews and there’s a lot of the jewish christians who are saying they need to be like us and paul says no no so he and barnabas go back to jerusalem this is what comes out in galatians in fact james peter and john who were known as pillars of the church recognized the gift God has given me and they accepted barnabas and me as their co-workers they encouraged us to keep preaching to the gentiles while they continued their work with the jews now notice james is not just an apostle he’s a pillar he’s a pillar in the church this guy is a leader now in the church in fact when you go to the passage it kind of expands this bigger it’s acts chapter 15. it talks about a council that they had and in that council that’s where paul and barnabas came and shared all the wonderful things that had happened among the gentiles let’s go there and look at this everyone listened quietly as barnabas and paul told about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them among the gentiles when they had finished james stood and said brothers listen to me peter has told you about the time God first visited the gentiles to take them from for people for himself and this conversion of gentiles is exactly what the prophets predicted as it is written and then he goes to verse after verse after verse after verse of the old testament scriptures saying how God was going to bring his truth to the world and then james the brother of Jesus the cynical brother who disbelieved says so it’s my judgment that we should not make it difficult for the gentiles who are turning to God

may I just point out we have a debt of gratitude to this guy because you’re gentiles I’m gentile we we are non-jews can you imagine if james hadn’t spoken up somebody else would have but james the disbelieving brother of Jesus had that kind of power where he spoke and the church followed um one last passage is found in chapter 21 of acts and basically paul now has traveled on three missionary journeys he’s come back to jerusalem with his report and here’s what comes when we arrived the brothers and sisters in jerusalem welcome to swirling the next day paul went with us to meet with james and all the elders of the jerusalem church were present after greeting them paul gave a detailed account of the things God had accomplished among the gentiles through his ministry paul went to meet with james and what we see is that over the years God transformed this unbelieving man to become the leader of the jerusalem church to step out and lead those people and to make definitive definitive statements that affect us today

well that’s the last mention of james and all those are short little passages well you know there is one more it’s called the epistle of james it’s called the book that he wrote and he wrote it to the jubilee but he wrote it to us too and he starts out like this this letter is from james a slave of God and a slave of the lord Jesus christ I’m writing to the 12 tribes jewish believers scattered abroad greetings you know I have a feeling if that had been me I would have said this is from dan the brother of Jesus and a slave to but I’d probably want to slide that little brotherhood in there

I believe very much james was a humbled man who God used mightily and he used him in the kingdom of our God um let me go back to chuck colson

he was serving out his term and I just have to read this to you really quick it was right toward the end of his term that he was serving in prison it was at maxwell federal prison camp and he tells how he was in the common area and he was writing a letter he had written lots of letters he had spent a lot of time studying scripture he had really tried to drink in and take the opportunity he had while he was in prison to know this Jesus better that he had given his life to and he said everybody was just doing their own business when all of a sudden somebody yelled from the other side of the room hey coulson and all of a sudden the room quieted down because the voice was coming from this big guy his name was archie he was a big man in the prison and he came over to uh to coulson and he demanded what are you going to do for guys like us when you get out of here and coulson promised that he would never forget the men at maxwell and he would do whatever he could and archie looked at him and he said bull you big guys leave here and you forget us little guys you’re not going to do anything he slammed a deck of cards down on the table when he walked out and chuck coulson never forgot that interaction and he never forgot the interaction he had with Jesus christ in that car and from that time on he committed his life to working in the prisons and many of you know he started prison fellowship which is the largest prison work in our country um these are words that coulson wrote himself I’ve been reflecting of late on the things God has done over that time as I think about my life the beginning of the prison ministry our work in the justice area our international ministry that reaches 100 countries the work with the wilberforce forum the break point radio program I’ve come to appreciate God’s providence in my life it’s not the world’s idea of fate or luck but it’s the reality of God’s divine intervention he orchestrates the lives of his children to accomplish his good purposes

it leads to the greatest joy I’ve found in life as I look back on my life it’s not having been to buckingham palace to receive templeton prizes or get honorary degrees or writing books which he wrote 30. some of them were some of my favorite books the greatest joy is to see how God has chosen to use my life to touch the lives of others people hurting people in prison it’s been a long time since those dark days of watergate I’m still astounded that God would take someone who was infamous in the watergate scandal soon to be a convicted felon and take him into his family and then order his steps in the way he has with me

you know I just like to enforce that with each one of you Jesus met you in your unbelief and he brought the conviction of truth into your hearts and he proved that yes I have risen from the dead and Jesus is transforming each and every one of you just like he did with chuck colson and you may say well I’m not a chuckles no neither am I but I’m a dan elliot and you’re you and with God’s power filling you you’re going to touch lives don’t ever let the enemy come and tell you you’re not worthy or you’re not able or you’re not capable you’ve been transformed and touched by Jesus christ and he wants to use you well there’s one more movement I guess I would say in the life of james that I want to look at

go back and I see that way he he starts his letter a slave of God and of the lord Jesus christ james the just as he was called james the righteous he became known as has no more mention in scripture but historians mention him josephus who was a first century historian he was not a christian but he was a historian who mentions james and he mentions him with that term just james the righteous and he also pinpoints and he says james the just was martyred in a.d 62 62 years 30 years or so after Jesus his brother was crucified um there’s a there’s a historian and I always butcher his name haggis hagisipus I probably wouldn’t know anyway but he’s the second century he wrote these words about 120 a.d and he wrote these words about the death of james and here’s what he writes they the priests assembled and said to james we call on you to restrain the people since they’ve gone astray after Jesus believing him to be the christ we call on you to persuade all who come for the passover concerning Jesus since all of us trust you we in the entire populist can vouch for the fact that you are righteous and you take no one at face value so do persuade the crowd not to err regarding Jesus so stand on the pyramid of the temple where you can be clearly seen from that height and your words would be heard by all the people with all the tribes and gentiles to whom are gathered here for passover so just to reiterate the setting it’s passover time there’s thousands of people in jerusalem coming for that celebration and the priestly class trusts james and they say to him we want you to tell him stop following Jesus this is wrong and they have him stand on the wall of the temple so the scribes and pharisees had had james stand on the temple parapet and they shouted him oh righteous one whom we all ought to believe since the people are going astray after Jesus who was crucified tell us what does the door of Jesus mean and james replied with a loud voice why do you ask me about the son of man he is sitting in heaven at the right hand of the great power and he will come on the clouds of heaven

many were convinced and rejoiced in james testimony crying hosanna to the son of david get this then the scribes and the pharisees said to each other we’ve made a bad mistake we’ve given him a platform to have a testimony to Jesus but let us go up now and throw him down from that wall and then everybody will be afraid to believe and they cried out oh oh even the just one has gone astray so they went up and they threw james down the righteous one then they said to each other let’s stone james the just and they began to stone him since the fall had not killed him but james turned and knelt down saying I implore you o lord God and father forgive them while they were pelting him with stones one of the priests actually cried out stop what are you doing the righteous one is praying for you then one a laundry man took the club that he used to beat out clothes and he hit the just on the head and james died that way james was martyred what seems like a rather gruesome death

well that aspect of martyrdom was one of the aspects that convinced charles coulson deeper and deeper about christianity and coulson died in 2012 but one of the things I remember reading in his book and I forget it was loving God or born again I don’t know but he wrote how when they were at watergate and they knew they had to cover this up so they came up with lies to cover it up and they all agreed together all seven of them that had been the masterminds of watergate and they came up with their story they had the administration behind them they had all the power behind them you know you look at Jesus resurrection and it tells us in the end of matthew and I’ll just say in my own words the priests gathered the guards together who came and said oh my goodness something happened and when we woke up Jesus was gone and they said okay tell the people the disciples came and overpowered you and they stole the body of Jesus and it even says and there’s some jews to believe this to this day coulson as he wrestled with the whole thing of watergate he said you know there were seven of us that totally agreed on what we were going to say and we couldn’t keep that secret for two weeks

if the resurrection is not true if the resurrection was just alive there’s no way people would have lasted their whole lifetime and there certainly is no way that they would have faced death for Jesus christ and I’m kind of glad james death is not written here in scripture I’m kind of glad the historians had to tell us about it because that connects history with the truth of the resurrection and my prayer for each and every one of us today is that we would have the confidence to know the resurrection of Jesus christ changed everything and he can transform our pitiful lives to be lives that can make a difference with one another hey let’s worship God and thank him would you stand with us

The Story of James | Riptide (Part 6)2022-07-14T14:46:22-06:00

The Story of John & Peter | Riptide (Part 5)

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hey south family just before you watch this week’s sermon I have to let you know about why it’s so different we had a power outage at the church so we ran a service in the lobby because we had natural light through the windows there and we had almost no technology so this recording quality is a little bit lower as far as audio and video and stuff is concerned but we wanted still to post it for you so here it is sorry about the audio oh man what an adventure of a weekend day uh are there any gardeners in the building today any gardeners how many of you guys have come here with like deep existential questions about the fairness of the world right now it’s like why do bad things happen to good gardeners I don’t know they just they just do but we get uh we get to embrace this type of church and what’s kind of fun about this is is in truth for those of you that are familiar with worldwide church and travel at all we are tapping into something that is just normal in so many parts of the world uh to meet in an environment that is just thrown up and maybe for some of you have been around south for a long time it taps into some old history of south of having to set things up of having to pack everything away of having stuff that isn’t always working perfectly now we just don’t have any stuff at all it’s just simply the power of my voice um and so we’ll see what we can do uh but there’s something about that I was in the philippines years ago and just meeting in a church community that simply meets in a building of work with some corrugated sheets on the top with benches made of two by four uh and a stone floor and that’s that’s church and I remember thinking how often would I go how would I engage uh if this was my church all the time and yet you just feel something in this time singing together worshiping together there’s something here uh beyond just people gathering I also love that meeting out here means that I get to see who’s late uh so I just schedule like ah I see it I’m on to you usually you think you can sneak in and you turned up today and you’re like oh no I’m walking into a room full of people so I’ll know for next time so just yeah think about that if you didn’t need judgment in church um so john 21 we’re in this series that is really tapping into the resurrection appearances of Jesus Jesus spends time after his death and resurrection just going around and almost collecting back into the story some of these followers of his that seem like they’ve they’ve gotten detached from the story we looked at a lady called mary magdalene this couple that are on a road to a little village just getting out of town we looked at thomas with all his doubts and then last week we looked at peter who’s maybe in a bit of a spot of despair and watched as Jesus pulls him back in the good news is we get to do two weeks on peter uh next week the great dan elliot will come and talk to us about a guy called james we’re doing two weeks on peter why because peter is so fundamentally messed up that he needs two weeks to figure him out I I love peter because he reminds me of me he’s all passion and he’s very much into the story but he just doesn’t get it right very often he gets it wrong as much as he gets it right and there’s something about that personality that’s just delightful really we’re going to kind of compare and contrast him a little bit to this other guy john and and john’s just too good for me I can’t handle john like everything’s perfect with him and peter a delightful mess let’s for those of you that weren’t with us last week we’re going to track back and uh just see what happened last week because it looks it looks last week like the stories come to like a good resolution john 21 if you’re following along uh in a text if you want to follow along on a screen good luck um I don’t know what to tell you this reminds me of the times I’ve been asked to preach in other countries and and I’m like who do I send my keynote to and they’re like you don’t that’s not a thing here work for it afterwards Jesus appeared again to his disciples by the sea of galilee happened this way simon peter thomas known as didymus nathaniel from canaan galilee the sons of zebedee and two other disciples were together I’m going out to fish simon peter told them they said we’ll go with you so they went out and got into the boat but that night they caught nothing the whole passage sent us around that word nothing without Jesus they can do nothing without Jesus they have nothing without Jesus they are potentially nothing we they caught nothing early in the morning Jesus stood on the shore but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus he called out to them friends in the greek language children children haven’t you any fish no they answered he said throw your net onto the right side of the boat and you will find some and that moment they’re like huh feels like we did something like this before when they did they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish then the disciple whom Jesus loves said to peter it is the lord as soon as simon peter had him say it is the lord he wrapped his outer garment around him before he had taken it up and jumped into the water classic peter move the other disciples followed in the boat towing the net full of fish but they were not far from the shore about a hundred yards when they had landed they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it and some bread Jesus said to them bring some of the fish you’ve just caught so simon peter climbed back into the boat dragged the net ashore it was full a fish 153 but even with so many the net was not torn Jesus said to them come and have breakfast none of the disciples dared ask him who are you they knew it was the lord Jesus came took the bread gave it to them and did the same with the fish this was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead Jesus encounters this disciple peter alongside a fire the last time they have been by a fire together peter has denied Jesus and it’s just the potential that every time he smells a fire every time he experiences what it is to stand around this simple thing he remembers the last time he did that it’s just a potential that every time he catches that beautiful whiff of campfire it taps him back into oh this is where I failed this is where it all went wrong and this wonderful Jesus kind of retcons retroactive continuities the fire for him he he comes alongside it and now now potentially every time peter will sit by a fire he gets to remind himself that Jesus was incredibly good to him that Jesus pulled him back into the story Jesus takes something that could be traumatic and turns it into something wonderful I can see some of you when I’m talking about fire you’re like I could just I could just picture it right now I could feel it I started a fire in the sanctuary last week and would have been better this week if we’re honest

there is this moment uh that it seems like Jesus has pulled peter back into the story and he asks peter three questions as though he still needs he knows peter needs something more from him really what we looked at last week is peter needs confession he needs to be able to come alongside Jesus and say the same thing as he needs to agree with Jesus about who he is yes he’s a failure yes he’s broken yes he rarely gets it as right as he’d like but Jesus is constantly good and constantly pulls him back into the story and and really what we see is Jesus asked him the same question three times do you love me and peter’s response is initially kind of yeah I I’m trying and in the end it’s like the last time it’s almost like the surrender of you know everything you know all things you know that I love you you know that I’m not always who I want to be you know that I’m regularly a mess regularly I promise more than I can deliver regularly I make the same mistakes over and over again but Jesus I love you and I’m in this story with you there’s this beautiful moment where Jesus pulls this wondering disciple back in and gives him purpose again and it looks for just a second like the store is finished with perfect symmetry these gospel these biographies of Jesus life they begin with follow me and they end it seems for a moment with follow me as Jesus asks peter those questions he says to him feed my sheep very truly I tell you when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted but when you were older you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death which peter would glorify God the tradition in the church history is that peter eventually will not deny Jesus peter will be arrested he will be sentenced to crucifixion and in the moment where he’s about to be crucified will say I’m not worthy to die in the same way of Jesus who I follow and chooses to be crucified upside down because again Jesus path for him he seems unworthy of the final words that we see from Jesus in this little sentence are follow me and it seems like we began with follow me and we’ll end with follow me and wouldn’t that be a delightful symmetry to the story except as there is so often there’s just a little bit more this writer john that put together the these stories for us he excels in this wonderful thing in this incredible way he takes group events and he always helps everybody else disappear from the scene so we get to focus on just Jesus and one other person for those of you that like movies uh the there was a movie um pride and prejudice the jane austen novel and the director wanted to tap into dancing in this culture and just how intimate it was as an experience in a culture where you weren’t allowed to spend time with someone of the opposite sex it really was one of the most intimate experiences you could have before you were married and so in this scene you watch as the two main characters mr darcy and elizabeth bennett begin dancing together in a room full of people and then slowly the director fades out everybody else from view and so it’s just the two of them everybody else has disappeared and john this writer does this over and over again there’s a moment where there’s a crowd and sometimes physically in a story where Jesus encounters a woman caught in adultery physically everybody else disappears from the scene but but quite often just in terms of his writing as a literary device people just slowly disappear and you’re left with Jesus and one person and it’s regularly life-changing for a second it seems like that’s what’s happened here Jesus encounters peter this disciple who’s kind of on the fringe and he pulls him back in and it seems like the perfect symmetry it began with peter follow me it can end with peter follow me and then something happens verse 20 of john 21 peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them this was the one who leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said lord who is going to betray you when peter saw him he said lord what about him what about him now if you know peter’s character peter struggles a little bit with distraction we’re going to look at another story about peter and matthew chapter 19 again text people feel free to flick over in matthew chapter 19 peter has what you might call one of his hero sorry 14 has one of his hero moments uh verse 22 immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side while he dismissed the crowd after he had dismissed them he went up onto the mountainside by himself to pray later that night he was there alone and the boat was already a considerable distance from the land buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them walking on the lake when the disciples saw him walking on the lake they were terrified it is a ghost they cried but Jesus immediately said to them take courage it is I do not be afraid lord if it is you peter replied tell me to come to you on the water that is classic peter come he said then peter got down out of the boat walked on the water and came towards Jesus but when he saw the wind he was afraid and began to sink and cried out lord save me immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him you have little faith he said why did you doubt this is just who peter is he makes these bold brave steps all passion he’s the only disciple that asks if he can walk on water he’s the only one that climbs out of the boat he’s the only one that lets go of the side and everything is going so well until the moment where something else grabs his attention the wind and the waves and all of those different things and and Jesus general responsible maybe a little annoyed responses peter focus focus on me there it’s an event in the story we just read it’s a person it’s john interestingly john who loves to create these stories where everyone else fades out of you and it’s just Jesus and one person is the person who is interrupting this story he breaks his pattern this last time he becomes the interrupter he becomes the distraction he he becomes the point of I would suggest of envy for peter there’s a proper proverbs 19 40 that says this attractive heart creates joy but envy rots the soul envy rots the soul there is something about the relationship between peter and john that just says to him it was going so well Jesus and I were interacting we were having good conversation and and now something has interrupted that have you ever had that feeling of just the somebody else somebody else that you they just get to you on some level there’s something about their life maybe all the things that they have something about your relationship with them that it just nags at you and it seems like that is peter and john I was listening to a podcast a while back and this psychologist was talking about this client and he couldn’t obviously reveal his name because of confidentiality but he was just talking about the experience of working with this client who was vastly successful incredibly successful person had founded companies that achieved so many things had graduated highly in college but but kept talking about how he he didn’t really have a very high view of himself had constant sort of inferiority complex and this psychologist said I I just had to get to the bottom of this so I just started asking questions and as we talked more he started to talk about his college roommate and how this college roommate was just so much more successful than him and he felt inferior to this person as he unpacked it it turns out his college roommate was elon musk who had founded at this point paypal and tesla and all of these different things and you can understand the inferiority right somewhere john and peter there was something that when john walks into the scene peter’s like what about this guy Jesus if you’re telling me I’m going to get taken where I do not want to go if I’m going to go through all of these experiences what about john what’s going to happen to him why does this bug peed us so much to understand why we need to get back to a little event that happened earlier in john so again text people john chapter 13 we’re going to read from verse 2. the evening meal was in progress and the devil had already prompted judas the son of simon iscariot to betray Jesus Jesus knew that the father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God so he got up from the meal took off his outer clothing and wrapped a towel around his waist after that he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples feet drying them with a towel that was wrapped around him he came to simon peter who said to him lord are you going to wash my feet Jesus replied you do not realize now what I’m doing but later you will understand no said peter you will never wash my feet Jesus answered unless I wash you you have no part of me then lord simon peter replied not just my feet but my hands and my head as well again such a peter move okay don’t wash my feet no if you’re gonna do that then watch other stuff as well Jesus answered those who have had a bath don’t need only to wash their feet their whole body is clean and you are clean though not every one of you for he knew that he was going to betray him and that was why he said not every one of you is clean now skip down a little bit more to verse 21 after he had said this Jesus was very troubled in spirit and testified very truly I tell you one is going to betray me his disciples stared at one another at a loss to know which of them he meant one of them the disciples whom Jesus loved was reclining next to him simon peter motioned to this disciple and said ask him which one he means leaning back against Jesus he asked him lord who is it Jesus answered it is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it into the dish then dipping the piece of bread he gave it to judas the son of simon iscariot this is a scene around a table uh now it’s a bit hard for us to jump into this contextually in the 21st century the best example I could give you was if you’ve been to a wedding you’ve maybe had that experience of going to look at the list of where people are sat to find out where you are sat and you’ve had that moment of like wow that that’s a pretty good table I didn’t realize that you that we were that close you’ve sat me fairly close to the center of the action that feels like uh a big deal or maybe you’ve had the opposite experience have you gone to look at the listing like I didn’t realize they could get like 104 tables in here you’ve got me on table 140 104 and that’s really embarrassing when we’re family like I expected I expect it to be a little closer than that that’s kind of what seating looks like at something like a passover meal something like they’re doing I I tend to picture things as kind of linear so so when I think about this table setting I think about one of the big tables we have over in this side of the room and very much like leonardo da vinci’s famous painting I think of Jesus in the middle and then the disciples sort of either side of him and the action sort of pulls away from Jesus Jesus is the center everything else is here that wasn’t what a table looked like in the first century in actual fact this room really helps us understand this there will be the first part of the table that would come along here and then a second part of the table that would come this way and then a third part of the table that would come this way and the host the most important person in the room in reality would sit over here one space from the right and then the guest of honor would sit here on his right and the second guest of honor would sit here on his left and then the least important person would sit all the way over here at this point of the table and and kind of in seniority kind of an important influence it would move around the room so you would get less important less is very much a graduated system all the way down to there when we read that john leans across to Jesus and reclines on him so we can ask him a question that means that john is sat here and Jesus is sat here john the youngest disciple is in the place of honor the most important seat and to be able to make a signal to him to be able to talk to him peter the guy that’s followed Jesus from the beginning the most senior the most important the leader of the group the one that always speaks up the one that’s helped Jesus with his ministry so much all those different things well peter peter’s all the way over here in the last spot that means that when there was no servant present that means if someone needed to wash feet because there was no servant supposed to be the guy in this seat that means when Jesus gets up and wash his feet peter has all of these moments like that that’s supposed to be me that’s really awkward that means that peter gets to sit there all the way through the passive meal and look at everybody else in a better seat and list for himself all of the reasons that he should be sat where they are that means that when any of the disciples have to think about who is Jesus talking about when he is talking about a betrayer who’s the person that they’re likely to suspect it’s the person in this it’s the person that used to be in the place of honor that used to be over here somewhere and he’s now all the way down there another interesting little kernel of all this is that if john is sat here and Jesus is sat here we’re told that Jesus says to john the person that will betray me is the person to whom I pass this bread and there’s only two people at the table two seats that Jesus can pass bread to directly as john sat here who asked the question and there’s the second seat of honor on his left that means that we have john here and we have Jesus here and judas is set here judas is in the second place of honor judas that will betray him is in the seat next to Jesus and so imagine all the things that go through peter’s mind as he sits there and watches this meal take place and the frustrations in him that say I should be in one of these I should really be over there where john is how did he get that spot what is he doing there this isn’t fair we get a little picture into peter’s world what it is to to experience envy rotting the soul now of course you probably haven’t been invited to a passover meal recently you probably haven’t been invited to to sit in that kind of environment and you probably haven’t been given the worst seat either what is it in your world what is in my world that creates that same experience that peter has around john because I would suggest in our world there’s actually tons of things right there’s tons of things that put us into that place and no this this thing is just working at me maybe it’s a an individual person a particular person maybe it’s lots of people but our whole world is almost designed to create those kind of emotions particularly around things like social media we we get that concept right I’ve got to keep up with the jones is the so much stuff or maybe the kardashians or whoever it is you know there’s so many of those things going on that we get to look into people’s world and say I should be sitting in that scene I want what they have it looks so much better over there I rarely post stuff on social media which is a deep frustration for our connections director who’s like that would be really useful to me in my job if you would say anything on any social media environment but but I really am not particularly first the other day yesterday I posted something uh just for this sermon really I posted a picture of me and my kids building a snowman on may 21st and just that that window that people get into our lives and and if you were to look at my history of social media you would believe that my life was one constant ski trip or adventure with my wife and kids and everyone always dressed perfectly and everyone behaved perfectly and we were always doing fun things together because what I do when I put things on social media is I put on my best of moments for those sports center fans like the highlight reel I put on those things when we engage with social media what happens so often is we compare our someone else’s best of moments to our rest of moments we compare them to just the general everyday experiences of our lives so of course the other thing looks better it has to it’s made to look better in actual fact the snowman that I so carefully curated and posted on facebook and instagram it actually fell down like three seconds later I actually think elaine was holding it up during the photo and isn’t that just a window into how we interact around social media we see one little snippet and it tells us life is good and it tells us I want that slowly envy gets the rot the soul we look at other relationships and they seem so perfect we look at people’s houses and they seem so tidy we look at people’s cars and they seem so nice and slowly slowly slowly they’re uh envy ruts the soul why else because there’s other things as well I think sometimes in that engagement what we actually find out we’re doing and not realizing it is that we’re actually comparing something that’s real with something that’s faith one of my favorite movies of the last few years is a movie called yesterday it’s kind of about the beatles and so you can see why I like it big beatles fan and in this story the beatles through this massive world event nobody remembers them they have ceased to exist you can google them and all you get are the car and the bug and none of the music and so this this sort of aspiring singer songwriter decides you know what I’m gonna do I remember all these beatles songs for some strange reason when nobody else does I’m gonna start writing them all and singing them all and I’m gonna become really famous and so he does and he does it’s a massive success story but but in the moment of writing all these songs and creating this brilliant career he runs into ed sheeran the real life ed sheeran actually famous actually writing wonderful songs and then sharon says as they’re hanging out with a group of friends we should have a contest right here right now let’s both of us go into a room and we’ll write the best song we can in 10 minutes it can’t be something old can’t be something you’ve done before can’t be something in your back pocket it has to be new and so ed sheeran goes into a room and he comes back with this just delightfully simple yet poignant song about love we are just penguins on the ice we’re not meant to fly but we can try just a little evocative melody all those different things and everyone loves it and cheers and then jack malik the hero of the movie comes back and he sings the long and winding road possibly the greatest most poignant beatles song of all time and of course everyone is is just just astounded that someone in this moment could write something so spectacular ed sheeran actually says man these things are complicated except for you they’re not are they it’s simple for you he has this moment which is we’re not even voting because you someone said someone would come along that was better than me and you jack are in a different league what’s happening in that story what’s happening in that moment ed sheeran is comparing something real something that he wrote to something that okay maybe it’s real and since it’s a song but is it is it real actual fact it’s not it’s not the purpose of the thing and I think we do the same thing in our lives as well we look at other people around us and we say that looks real I want that and so often what we’re looking at isn’t real we don’t know all of the details sometimes we compare somebody else’s best stuff to our restaurant we compare somebody else’s fate to our real and then finally I think we look at other people and we see the success but not the sacrifice that went with it I used to experience all the time this is all the time coaching soccer players in michigan coaching high schoolers I would regularly have people come up and say I really want to be a premier league player or a famous soccer player what do I have to do and sometimes there was just the honest answer of that’s just not going to be your story often I get parents ask me the same question what does this son of mine have to do to be a premier league player that had this crushing moment of realizing apparently british people are here to kind of evaluate american talent we do that in all of these song shows like x factor and now I’m doing it for 17 year old soccer players but but sometimes what I would say is this you need to try harder you need to actually want this more than you do because right now you turn up for practice late and you don’t actually put in a lot of effort and you kind of just hang around goofing around the rest of the team like there’s so much that I look and say I don’t see any success because I don’t actually see any sacrifice in that movie yesterday it’s interesting that that ed sheeran makes this kind of cryptic reference he says to jack malik this now famous but not famous person he says to him you’re mozart and I’m salieri this is reference to these two musicians from centuries before and the the story is that mozart was incredibly talented and salieri was talented but not in the same league as mozart mozart would write pieces of music from scratch with no corrections he would just he would pluck them out of the air and pour them out on paper salieri was always frustrated that someone like mozart who seemed to live mozart lived a pretty r-rated life there was nothing really pg-13 about him and the salieri found this deeply frustrating why would God give talent to this person who seemed to ignore God completely in actual fact if anything’s unfair it’s that interpretation of mozart mozart began piano lessons when he was four mozart was writing pieces of music at six and there’s pieces of music that he sweated over and slaved over that we never listened to anymore mozart was if anything the product of someone who gave and he gave and he gave and gave it wasn’t just that everything came easy was that he had talent that he worked to hone and create and I think just like the other two things just like comparing our rest off to somebody else’s best of just like the way that we compare somebody else’s fake to our real staff I think we look at other people’s lives and say oh man I can see I can see all of the success but we missed the part where they gave and gave and gave and I think that’s what peter does peter looks at john in this moment and says I’m about to suffer I’m about to go all through all of these things what about jump it’s interesting it doesn’t bother him Jesus prediction that he’ll die for Jesus one day doesn’t actually bother him it’s when he finds out that somebody else in his mind is going to get it easier than he has it that he has a problem why does john have to go through this if you’re going to put john in the seat of honor Jesus shouldn’t he have to do this too

I wonder whether Jesus is actually right whether peter’s actually right about john peter true dies for Jesus he dies in this incredibly painful way but isn’t that much easier than what john will go through history tells us john will be the last disciple left alive long after the others many of them have been killed for their faith long after the rest have died john will still be there banished to an island called patmos writing letters to churches by himself year after year after year 90 91 92 93 still no Jesus returning still waiting for the story to finish just by himself with none of the community none of the people to share the stories with just him just waiting is the only person now that remembers what it was to talk to Jesus face to face and still when is he coming back when is the story going to finish I don’t know that john gets it way easier than peter does I think their stories are just different when Jesus wants to give peter an answer to this question what about him that’s where peter lands has come to where Jesus lands as comfortable as uncomfortable as that can be for us at times Jesus answered if I want him to remain alive until I return what is that to you you must follow me this is what you’ve been trained for peter this is what you’re called to do now peter will be asked to do a new type of following for years he’s followed Jesus when he gets to see him physically he’s followed him step for step and now Jesus says now you’ll have to follow me with no physicality just just that inner voice just that spirit guiding you but you peter you’re not here to question somebody else’s journey you’re here to follow me when the bible when this proverb says envy rots the soul I think it’s trying to help us understand that that decision to focus all of our energy on somebody else’s journey is ultimately flawed and ultimately damaging to our own journey another proverb outside of the biblical language simply says this the comparison is in fact a form of self-harm there’s something about comparing how somebody else is doing and what their journey looks like that in actual fact is deeply damaging to us Jesus solution that he gives to peter is peter don’t worry about him don’t worry about the seat over there don’t worry about what they have don’t worry about what their journey looks like you follow me you follow me and and so when I feel that that’s challenging there’s something that I do there’s a psalm that I’d love to share with you psalm 25 in those moments where I’m like I don’t know what following looks like and everybody else’s journey looks better than mine and I want what this other person has and the seat that john has looks better than the seat that I have in that moment psalm 25 is this just great source of wisdom this is verse 4 show me your ways lord teach me your paths guide me in your truth and teach me for you you are God my savior and my hope is in you all day long and then it goes on to add something just for those of us that like peter feel like we regularly misstep on that journey regularly feel like he shows us paths that we fail to take that we should have taken and look back again like peter and say man time and time again I make the same mistakes over and over he throws in this little verse at the end remember lord your great mercy and love for they are of old Jesus solution to peter’s envy to peter’s desire to have what john has to sit at the chair that john has to have the journey that john will have is is Jesus is peter keep your eyes on me this is the journey that I have when I started uh doing a ministry job years ago someone gave me a list of 10 things to remember while pastoring a church and I’ve forgotten nine of them but the first one I remember like it was yesterday it says simply this follow Jesus on the journey he has for you invite other people along that seems to be where Jesus lands with peter peter you follow me and I wish I could take that sentence and just tweak it a little bit and because I’m talking to you I can uh so I have that privilege I wish it said this follow Jesus on the journey he has for you with gratitude invite other people along there is something about gratitude as a practice that enables us to look at what we have and say I have so many good things now are the stories that sometimes there will be just so much brokenness yes are there stories where it’s hard to find what that kernel is yes but somewhere for most of us sitting in this room there is something about the story we have been gifted that we get to look at and say God I’m stood by a fire with all of my mistakes and all of the ways that these things could remind me of failure and yet what I see is this you have been good and I am grateful let’s pray

The Story of John & Peter | Riptide (Part 5)2022-07-14T14:39:47-06:00

The Story of Peter | Riptide (Part 4)

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good morning friends how you doing I am just happily here just roasting my marshmallows a few years ago I got to go camping um I have a love-hate relationship with camping I first time taking all my kids and we got there and we got the camper set up with a lot of effort and all of those different things um and then I realized the fundamental flaw of camping uh the fundamental floor is this uh that you uh if you take kids with you they get up super early and when you take them camping they get up even earlier um so when my kids got up somewhere around five and we have tested this by the way the sprinklers will not go off we think my kids get up usually about five and they got up even earlier and after we wrestled with uh like keeping them in there and when was a respectable time to let them loose in society we eventually said well let’s go cook breakfast uh and after we got out of the camper we started trying to set up all of our different stuff to make that work and if I’m honest I had one thought running through my mind I can’t wait to go home

cooking is so much simpler when you have a stove and all of those different things like those wonderful things that we have been given by very intelligent people uh to enable us to uh to to just make sure that camping is a delight would you like a marshmallow it’s all yours

to make sure that cammie’s late I thought I just can’t wait to go home and then as we got breakfast ready I remember a friend who had come camping with us he was at the site next to us I remember him sitting looking at me and he had the strangest expression on his face and I looked across at him and I said are you pitying me and he said no I’m envying you he said you are in this magical moment your kids are running around and you’re cooking them breakfast and somehow figuring out a way to make coffee and I’m sat here with my coffee that was easy to make with my book and my kids will wake up in a few hours and then they’ll want breakfast and then they’ll go and I won’t see them for the rest of the day right now you’re in these moments to be treasured and I thought wow that’s really profound crazy but profound like it’s so much easier when your kids don’t want something off you all the time and then we spent the rest of the weekend around a campfire we spent it cooking s’mores cooking marshmallows we set spent it with good friends talking having great conversation late into the night and I remember when I got back home and I got my couple of days rest at the office as you need after a good camping trip and I thought this I can’t wait to go back I can’t wait to go back and there’s something about the smell of campfire that for me will instantly send me back into that space there’s something incredibly interesting about smell in general these were when I looked the top five smells so see what you resonate with freshly baked bread there are a couple of heroes in the church that have made me freshly baked bread and if you want to make me some to so I can compare uh and I can have like a whole chart and everything we can do that just just let me know but that that smell is just delightful you smell it in the oven it’s just developing number two is bacon um I I when I was a youth pastor I would cook bacon for all of the students once a month and and the smell would waft from the north end of the building to the south end of the building and just interestingly some some parents especially guys that I’d never seen at any other point would feel called just to drop in on the youth ministry that day just to see how things were going and see if they could have a good conversation freshly cut grass this is one of my favorites I worked on a golf course and just the aroma of that just in the air coffee and necessity in the morning you know the morning is going well when the coffee is up and running and then number five was melted chocolate I lived down the road from a chocolate factory if I sound like charlie from charlie and little chocolate factory it’s just coincidence but but I uh you could go stand in the parking lot and the melted chocolate smell of cadburys chocolate would just just waft into the air there’s something incredible about smells that’s that’s actually scientific uh what we’re told is this smell is the most evocative and longest lasting of the senses there’s something about the way something smells that can throw you back into a memory from decades before how many of you have walked somewhere and said oh I just caught a roamer of something and it reminds me of this place or this space or this time uh the writer teresa white says this the sense of smell conjures up memories so strong that you feel as if you are experiencing the event again when I smell fire campfire I am experiencing some of those wonderful memories of just time around if I enjoying that experience but here’s a question if that can be true of our good times our good memories are good experiences can it also be true of our worst other ways that smell can conjure up past experiences past moments in a way that actually is painful we actually occasionally use language there is you may have heard the language the stench of failure the the stinker failure the the great prophet homer simpson uh once said while sitting in a bath after after a failed project washing himself saying the stink of failure is still on me now that may seem weird to to us in our society but if you go to japan where honor and shame are very much important concepts that idea that failure that shame is is tangible and transferable is very very real this is the last japanese person who was well known to to to die by ritual suicide by sepulcher he failed in a military operation and the sense of shame was so strong on him that he committed suicide he died from suicide because of that we see ways that failure can put us into places that are really negative and maybe some of you have been in those moments maybe some of you have had those experiences where you said the sense of failure the sense of struggle the sense of regret is so strong I’m not sure that I can continue for this guy that was a real lived experience what if something about smell can tap us back not just into positives what if it can throw us back into negatives we’re gonna look at a guy today called peter who I would suggest that has the potential to be true of in this series rip tired we rip tired we’ve looked at a few different characters we’ve looked at how Jesus has interacted with them post-resurrection so we’ve had mary who has experienced what it is to live in darkness she’s experienced we’re told in biblical language she has had seven demons cast out and now Jesus is gone does she now go back what happens her story has moved from darkness to life with Jesus not around it is the potential that it returns to darkness she needs to know that she won’t go back to her old story this cleopas this character that we find walking on the emmaus road leaving the story he’s getting out of town he can no longer commit to this thing he has this sense of defeat and then last week we looked at good old thomas who is somewhat miscount counted as a as a doubter but has this experience of I don’t know if I can keep believing in Jesus I don’t know if I can sign up for this again he let me down he wasn’t what I thought he was God has let me down I’m not sure I can recommit to this story each of them needed Jesus in specific ways and I would say interestingly aren’t each of them quite like us in lots of ways you may not have been in all of those places but I bet you’ve probably at some point been in one I bet you’ve made a journey at some point from a place that seemed like a dark time in your life to a place that seemed good and worried that you might go back there I bet at some point you’ve had that sense of is the story worth it is the church worth it it seems at times to be so fractured and broken worldwide can I still stay involved in this and then how about doubt both types of doubt that we talked about last week the head doubt the the questions of like you know what if can God make a rock that he can’t destroy or any of those weird things we might ask ourselves and then the existential doubt the felt doubt of this is a broken thing I am broken this is too painful I can’t sign up for this again for each of these people what I would say is that the resurrection was true but not yet true for them the resurrection was true but not yet true for them and Jesus in his incredible way comes alongside each of them and he pulls them back into his story he gives them new stories to live by and the same is true of peter but let’s remind ourselves just a few things about peter this is the last story that we know of peter before Jesus death and resurrection so let’s just get a sense of where he was if you don’t know peter’s character a couple of things you need to know about him peter is the brash one peter is the outspoken one he always has an opinion on everything he seems to be the leader of the disciples sometimes because he was asked to be but sometimes just because he’s peter and he chose to be and that’s just how peter works it tells you most things you need to know about him so in mark chapter 14 we’re told this on the way Jesus told them all of you will desert me for the scriptures say God will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered coming up to his crucifixion coming up to his arrest Jesus predicts that the people most loyal to him will no longer show loyalty to him and peter right on cue says even if everyone else deserves you I never will Jesus replied I tell you the truth peter this very night before the rooster crows twice you would deny me deny three times that you even know me and it tells us something about how peter understands Jesus at this point and how peter sees himself at this point that his response isn’t Jesus you’re often so wise if you say so it must be so his response is no peter declared emphatically even if I have to die with you I I I will never deny you bold claim my friend and then we see the story unpack as Jesus is arrested we’re told peter was in the courtyard below that is the scene that mark paints one of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by and noticed peter warming himself at the fire she looked at him closely and said you were one of those with Jesus of nazareth a couple of details that the author chooses to pick out a courtyard and a fire this is the scene that we are given there is a fire and peter is stood at it with a group of people and has this opportunity opportunity at Jesus lowest moment at the moment everyone else has deserted him to say oh I know this man yes I follow him yes I consider him to be all of the things that peter considers Jesus to be but his response is different but peter denied it I don’t know what you’re talking about he said and went out into the entryway just then a rooster crowed warning number one I remember being back as an eight-year-old I remember those moments I lived in an area that very few people followed Jesus and I remember being questioned are you a christian and remember as an eight-year-old saying yes but remember as a teenager that got far harder to own up to I feel like I’ve been a little bit where peter sat and know what it feels like to be in this moment round two when the servant girl saw him standing there she began telling the others this man is definitely one of them but peter denied it again a little later some of the other bystanders confronted peter and said you must be one of them because you are a galilee and the galileans this area had a very distinct sort of accent peter swore a curse on me if I’m lying and I don’t know this man you’re talking about and immediately the rooster crowed the second time this is the last time we encountered peter before Jesus death and resurrection and we find him don’t we find him at his lowest point at his worst moment now what’s interesting as we look for the redemption in the story is mark who we’re told historically wrote this text mark was very close with peter so the only reason he knows this story is what peter told him peter said came to this place he said mark that’s got to go in there you’ve got to put it in me at my lowest you need to share that because it’s going to say something later in the story but right now if I had to find a picture to encapsulate how I see peter and his place within the followers of Jesus it’s probably this one

peter is in that place of he’s on the fringe does he still belong that moment where a dog shows its remorse shows the fact that he’s done something he shouldn’t have done the guilty expression Jesus has so far met the disciples twice since his resurrection and peter has been conspicuous in his silence peter who’s always outspoken peter who always has something to say has said nothing thomas has said something others have spoken up but peter seems like he’s sitting on the fringe and now it’s been one day two days three days then eight days and then more days and still there’s been no moment where peter has this come to Jesus moment this literal come to Jesus moment where he gets to encounter Jesus perhaps one-on-one in real conversation still he’s trapped in this moment that looks like this I would suggest he sits somewhere between guilt and shame he has done something wrong but what does that mean now Jesus is risen and yet still there is this deep weight on him we did a load of work on guilt and shame in our emotions series and and our friend kevin butcher spoke about shame and where it comes from in genesis and so if you’ve not heard that maybe go back and check it out but right now it’s enough to say that shame is this intensely negative emotion that usually comes from how we see other people and their value and our shame is a self-conscious emotion generated by self-reflection and self-evaluation when a person’s failures or shortcomings are displayed publicly and it is often accompanied by fear of rejection or abandonment by the group doesn’t that sound like peter where am I now what does the story mean for me now am I still the leader of this group like the leader the spokesperson of the disciples am I outside of this group is the forgiveness for me how does Jesus feel about me so many questions must be swirling in his mind day after day after day as he sits in this place of failure of brokenness all of the things he promised he didn’t live up to any of them and maybe you’ve sat there maybe not it’s maybe not in relationship to Jesus but but maybe you’ve had moments where everything seems like it’s gone wrong I’d I definitely have maybe there were some things that you said yes to that you should have said no to maybe the things you said no to that you should have said yes to maybe there’s just something that just sticks out in your mind and it has some association with guilt but perhaps also not shame is kind of unique in that it doesn’t require you to have done anything wrong it’s just an emotion about how you are perceived and how you fit and how you belong if anything maybe this is helpful language guilt is a wound shame is a scar I I was at work years ago I was working on a golf course and I hit my head on the guy’s head next to me were in a car together it bumped and we clashed heads and it seemed like it was just going to be a minor thing it glared a little bit but then it seemed to be fine and then suddenly in this spot on my head all of my hair started falling out now some of you guys pull off boldness delightfully well you look awesome and you’re living the dream you don’t have to worry about upkeep or anything but for those of us with long hair this is like worst case scenario where’s it going like this is my identity I can’t handle this people would come up to me and they’d say you’ve got something in your hair oh no it’s just a bald spot now this had never happened to me before in my life and so I experienced the emotional pain that I’m sure some of you have been through but I went to the doctor got a quick operation and they fixed it they took out some stuff that you don’t need to hear described it looked disgusting too much information but then theoretically problem fixed until it scarred and then I noticed every time I went out in the sun there was this intense moment of pain as the sun hit this one particular spot that’s how scars often work long after wounds heal scars are still painful to touch long after the guilt has gone shame says the moment something touches that spot ouch I feel it you know if for you there are certain words that I could use certain situations life experiences that I can reference and the just the mention of them it’s like wow I feel that sometimes it’s a particular person when they text when they call we just don’t want to pick up the phone sometimes it’s a particular building or organization the scar can remain long afterwards guilt is a wound and shame is a scar and I would suggest somewhere in that tension right now is where peter sits what do my actions mean now Jesus is risen and what story does he have for me now which leads us beautifully to john chapter 21. if you have a text and you want to read along with me you are welcome to do that I’m going to read through it fairly quickly we’ll go back through it verse by verse assuming we have time and man I need to get moving if you guys want lunch but I already ate so I’m not fussed I mean we can just keep going you guys can mail in your panera orders back a truck up or something chapter 21 after Jesus appeared again to his disciples by the sea of galilee happened this way simon peter thomas also known as didymus nathaniel from kaner in galilee the sons of zebedee and two other disciples were together I’m going out to fish simon peter told them and they said to him we’ll go with you so they went out got into the boat but that night they caught nothing early in the morning Jesus stood on the shore but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus he called out to them friends haven’t you any fish no they answered he said throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some when they did they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to peter it is the lord as soon as simon peter heard him say it is the lord he wrapped his outer garment around him for he’d taken it off and jumped into the water the other disciples followed in the boat towing a full net of fish for they were not far from the shore about a hundred yards when they landed they saw a fire of burning coals with fish on it and some bread Jesus said to them bring some of the fish you have just caught so simon peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore it was full of large fish 153 but even so with so many the net was not torn Jesus said to them come and have breakfast none of the disciples did ask him who are you they knew it was the lord Jesus came took the bread and gave it to them and did the same with the fish this was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead when they had finished eating Jesus said to simon peter simon son of john do you love me more than these yes lord he said you know how that I love you Jesus said feed my lambs again Jesus said simon son of john do you love me he answered yes lord you know that I love you Jesus said take care of my sheep the third time he said to him simon son of john do you love me peter was her because Jesus asked him the third time do you love me he said lord you know all things you know that I love you let’s pray God as we enter into this text from all sorts of places of failure all sorts of places of struggle all sorts of places of questioning we enter this with guilt with shame with a need for you to create new stories and so we come to you who does that for peter and ask how you might do that for us so God speak as we need to hear you for those in need of comfort bring us comfort for those in need of affliction of stirring up would you stir us up comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable as you do so often ah man afterwards Jesus appeared again to his disciples by the sea of galilee happened this way there’s some suggestion this chapter feels a little bit tacked on to the end of john it seems to end very cleanly in john 20. but in actual fact that’s just quite often how greek texts work if you read homer’s iliad the whole story the climax happens and then there’s a chapter that just seems to wrap up some character issues so this is fairly normal to happen in this culture simon peter thomas also known as didymus from last week nathaniel from canada and galilee the sons of zebedee and the two other disciples were together I’m going out fishing simon peter told them when you don’t know where your story is going it’s very normal to return to something familiar and fishing is what peter knows that means in his culture at some point he’d been to synagogue school as all boys he’d started his education and someone had said the academic life peter is not for you go learn a trade go back to your father he’ll teach you to do what he does go to your uncle he’ll teach you to do what he does but you are not made to be an academic you’re not made to be a rabbi that means that when Jesus comes to peter and calls him that’s a surprise to everybody peter included he doesn’t fit the normal pattern the others say that they will go out with him and they got into the boat but that night they caught nothing interestingly that word nothing even though it just kind of gets lost in the text it is really what the whole passage centers around the whole passage centers around these followers of Jesus peter in in particular coming to realize they are completely reliant on Jesus that they can’t do this thing by themselves that uden is just simply nothing we caught nothing we can do nothing we are reliant on you is the conclusion that slowly that they will come to early in the morning Jesus stood on the shore but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus he called out to them friends haven’t you any fish the literal greek word is not actually friends it’s actually very endearingly it’s children it’s children you didn’t catch anything did you you’ve been out all night there were no results you need this conversation come this way no they answered he said throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some an unusual request most of the ore setup was on the right side of a fishing boat so you would cast your net off the left side so to cast it off the right they have to change everything around it’s something that no good fisherman would do and yet Jesus is asking them to do this and they do it on faith and when they did they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish and those of you that have been around the texts for a while around church for a while might say ah this story sounds familiar haven’t we been here before and yes of course we have the disciples first encounter or one of their first encounters was with this Jesus who tells them to do something unusual tells them to fish after fishing all night and catching nothing and a miraculous catch of fish appears it is also a moment where simon peter for the first time realizes something about who Jesus is and has moments where he says Jesus don’t call me pick somebody better go away from me I’m a sinful broken person Jesus I am not the person that you need I am not called to this in this moment there’s a trigger that says oh we’ve been here before this seems like a Jesus type story then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to peter it is the lord for those of you that can track back a couple of weeks we talked about this weird tension between this author this disciple that Jesus loved and and peter there’s kind of this weird collegiate competition when Jesus is raised they both run to the tomb and and this disciple is very keen for us to know I ran faster than peter just so you know I got there first it’s real child like schoolyard stuff and now we’re starting to see a little bit of it again the disciple whom Jesus loved said to peter it is the lord it’s like I recognized him first just so you know peter was the idiot that jumped in the water but I was the one that spotted him from the boat as soon as soon as simon peter heard him say it is the lord he wrapped his outer garment around him before he had taken it off and he jumped into the water things that you don’t see every day right it’s just I’m gonna jump and I’m gonna swim our text will say something about he he took his outer garment I put his outer garment around him he’d taken it off the greek texture says he was naked because they worked naked and he didn’t want to appear that way in front of Jesus so he throws his clothes on risks drowning and swims the hundred yards they have to swim to get to the boat and everyone else followed in the usual fashion I just wonder with peter he has this walking on water story I’m just wondering is he got some concept of I can still do this Jesus is back around it seems an odd decision to make but what I would suggest psychologically is this for this character he will do anything for just a few moments one-on-one with Jesus every other counter has had these moments of interaction with many other people there and for patriots I just need to get him alone if I could get him alone I’d know where I stood if I can get him alone I’d know what my story is whether I’m still included whether I’m still involved it’s a longing for just give me a couple of moments and when they get to shore we’re told when they landed they saw a fire a few days after standing by a fire and denying Jesus three times peter is now stood again by a fire and again with Jesus there is a fire to remind peter of his failure of smell his evocative his smell does something peter now stands there and he’s reminded of everything that happened everything that transpired that night he had an opportunity to stand up for Jesus and he didn’t when they landed they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it and some bread Jesus said to them bring some of the fish you have just caught so simon peter again been simon clambered back into the boat and dragged the net ashore a notable feed of strength to do that by yourself he’s kind of showing off he’s showing that he’s the he’s the physical dominating disciple that Jesus needs in this hour it was full of large fish 153 that’s a really weird number really random number there’s some suggestion that that might have been the number of species that were known at this time and so they threw it in to say Jesus knows all the fish but that would be a very strange thing to write I grant you doesn’t seem particularly likely Jesus said to them come and have breakfast come and have breakfast this the the the juxtaposition of a fire a few days before and a fire now that the kind of the way that it connects is impossible to miss in the text peter has stood by a fire and he’s denied Jesus and now he stands by another fire experiencing Jesus one-on-one for the first time somewhere the stories are the same does the place of denial and now a reminder of that denial but in this one beautiful way the stories are different yes there is a fire yes there is all the history of failure but at this fire there is breakfast there is a fire but there is also breakfast I would suggest there is a fire but there is also breakfast because Jesus is bringing a new day have you ever had that experience of I just need this day to end and I need that to be a new day and have you ever imagined what it would be like if there was no new day we constantly lived in the same day with all of our failures of this present day there in this same day forever somewhere in this story there is an encounter where peter meets Jesus by a fire but Jesus brings breakfast it takes all of the the connection of fire I wonder whether peter would have stood by every fire for the rest of his life and remembered this moment he had an opportunity to stand up for Jesus and he didn’t had an opportunity to live up to what he said and he didn’t and now he gets for the rest of his life to remember the day that he stood by a fire and Jesus made him breakfast because Jesus excels at bringing new stories out of old stories in this moment we see what redemption is we see what it is to take a smell that might bring all of the memories the stench of failure and in this moment that now means something different all together in this moment peter is going to learn just how Jesus sees him and how he can take his place in the story but in this moment what does peter still need does he need forgiveness if that is your answer I would say maybe yes but I would suggest and we’ll nudge towards this later I would suggest the forgiveness is already granted does he need repentance this turning around I would suggest maybe that’s already happened that that’s why peter is stood where he is now what in this moment does he need from Jesus for this story not to remain as a story of failure a story where he stood by a fire and he let Jesus down I I would suggest in this moment peter needs something that every single one of you and I need in our moments of brokenness and failure I would suggest when he needs his confession and when I say confession maybe you practice as a catholic or maybe that’s in your background for some of you it may be something that you still do you go and you do the confession box that’s not really what I’m talking about what I’m talking about is specifically what the greek word confession means and let’s just unpack this a little bit and and try and pull it out of this text when they had finished eating Jesus said to simon peter simon son of john do you love me more than these this writer john excels he is brilliant at taking crowds and bringing it down to just two people where everybody else seems to disappear from the picture and it’s just Jesus and one other person go back and read all through john and see the number of times that this happens it’s delightful writing do you do you love me more than these is his question yes lord he said you know that I love you Jesus said feed my lambs again Jesus said simon son of john do you love me he answered yes lord you know that I love you Jesus said take care of my sheep the third time he said to him simon son of john do you love me peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time do you love me in this moment every reaction of peter floods back to the story of just a few days ago stood back to his three failures the three times that he denied Jesus in luke’s version we read marks earlier in luke’s version there’s this poignant line the lord turned and looked straight at peter this heartbreaking reaction of peter as he goes outside and he weeps bitterly this intense encounter of what it is to let someone down and have them look at you directly and now once again they’re stood across a fire and Jesus is looking at peter and he asks him three times this question and the synergy the connection between the three times he denied Jesus is just again too clear to miss and peter has a choice does he go back to old p to does he find a way to defend himself does he find a way to explain why he did what he did all of those different things does he find a way to to demonstrate or try and prove his love for Jesus his connection his devotion to Jesus in this moment he doesn’t in this moment peter lands exactly where I think you and I should land in our moments of question in our moments where we encounter failure in our moments where we’re not all that we want to be in our moments where we feel like our story has turned into the worst version of itself in this moment he says lord do you know all things you know that I love you do you know all things Jesus you see me see me with all my fears fear see me in all the ways that my story is broken see me in all the ways that I would like to trust you and don’t see me in all the ways that I’ve broken relationships that I’ve heard other people see me in all the ways I’ve been hurt by other people see me all in all the hopes that I had for what my life would look like and the ways that it hasn’t turned out the way that I wanted see me and my parenting and my questioning of whether I even know how to do this see me in my marriage and watch a struggle see me in every situation see me my questions you see me you know all things you know the ways that I want to love you and fail the ways that I hope to be all that you would want me to be and I’m not you see me you know all things you know that to the best of my ability I love you know the ways that I need help to do that you see me in this moment peter who stood by a fire and three times denied Jesus is asked by Jesus a question three times and at the end of it comes to the end of himself comes to that moment of nothing I caught nothing and Jesus without you I am nothing and I need you to be everything because I can’t do this by myself the word confess homer legoman is simply that idea of to say the same as to just agree to come to that point and I would suggest like you and I so often peter needs this moment of confession say I don’t have a defense for the story I don’t have an answer for a news story but I need you to be that for me Jesus the writer nadia webber says this confession is a car wash for our secrets it’s this experience of what it is to speak out to say the same and to come out not just being clean but being aware that we are clean and what is fascinating to me in this moment the tension between characters in this moment I would suggest is no longer between john or the beloved disciple and peter it’s between judas and peter it’s between judas and peter judas the famous betrayer the famous the ultimate let down as a disciple during Jesus questioning of them before during his statement that every one of them would deny him judas has responded in a way very similar to peter and in many ways they are very similar characters then judas the one who would betray him said surely you don’t mean me rabbi Jesus answered you have said so in this moment I don’t know I don’t have an answer as to whether judas genuinely convinces himself that he won’t go through with his plan or whether he’s just simply lying but somewhere in this moment his response to Jesus suggestion is surely you don’t mean me and when Jesus dies he makes this plea on behalf of everybody that has failed him and I would suggest every single one of us sitting here with all of our brokenness and all of our stories father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing as a response to that peter says I agree I say the same yes I need that and I long for that I received that judas says surely you don’t mean me surely it’s not my story judas makes the ultimate decision he goes the wrong direction but peter peter he receives it Jesus prays forgive them peter responds I agree judas claims surely you don’t mean me now now there’s all this theological conversation we could have about election and does judas have a choice in this matter and really as it comes down to it it doesn’t actually matter why he has to make this choice or whether he has to make this choice but this is the choice he makes he can’t agree to that for whatever reason and I would suggest for each one of us in our moments of shame in our moments of regret of guilt in our moments where we feel outside of the story the choice we’re given is to confess and agree to say I need someone to pull me back into the story without you I have nothing without you I caught nothing I need you to pull me back in

and Jesus in his beautiful way as he is does for each of those first followers longs to pull us back into this story

is your answer I agree or is it you don’t mean me some questions for you to reflect on where do you experience guilt or shame how have you understood confession how has that changed what might it take for you to believe this Jesus who says he knows your story and longs to pull you into his story

and awaits your agreement Jesus as we sing

as you enter into this room in a particular way as you by your spirit come alongside each of us would you speak to us maybe through tears

maybe through doubt maybe through anger

you know all of our stories the ones that are fair and the ones that aren’t fair know the ways that we feel shame because of something we’ve done and the ways that we feel shame because of what’s been done to us know the ways that we are broken and have been broken

thank you Jesus amen

The Story of Peter | Riptide (Part 4)2022-07-14T14:38:04-06:00

The Story of Thomas | Riptide (Part 3)

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good morning friends how you doing today I love it we had an adventure in the first service something was replaying my own voice to me behind me but about six seconds after I said anything uh which means I’m one of the few people in the world to have interrupted themselves I was just sitting there at moments just thinking what what is this is this brilliant everyone has to listen to me twice or is this terrible I can’t process anything I’m saying and we decided to cut the second alex and all was well after that we are in a series uh called riptide why easter changes everything for everybody we are going almost day by day hour by hour with these resurrection or post-resurrection appearances of Jesus primarily to his earliest followers and just asking what is happening here there’s this moment where resurrection happens and nobody knows about it it’s changed everything and then Jesus begins to pull everyone back into this story those that are on the fringe of it those are almost disappearing from it Jesus pulls them back in and today we get to look at this fascinating character so I will read his story now thomas also known as didymus one of the twelve was not with the disciples when Jesus came so the other disciples told him we have sinned the lord he said to them unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were and put my hands into his side I will not believe a week later his disciples were in the house again and thomas was with them though the doors were locked Jesus came and stood among them and said peace be with you then he said to thomas put your finger here see my hands reach out your hand and put it in my side stop doubting and believe thomas said to him my lord and my God then Jesus told him blessed be sorry because you have seen me you have believed blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed God as we get into this text would you please speak to us we come with all sorts of different concerns or in all sorts of different places some of us come feeling deeply afflicted and need comfort we pray for that some of us come deeply comfortable and we need afflicting we pray for that God would you speak to each of us and move us on our journey with you amen before we get into this text let me just say there may be a question you might have especially if you’re fairly new to south of do we not talk more about mother’s day in the service on mother’s day and the answer is we don’t and and primarily that might be because of me and and my sense that one we have this liturgical calendar for a reason we’re following this journey from easter through to pentecost we’ll end pentecost with baptisms if you would like to get baptized if you have experienced life change that is something we would love to celebrate with you but mother’s day is one of those interesting things kind of like father’s day if you are in joy at the moment if you maybe have had a child this year if you are sat next to your own mother right now sat next to one of your own kids right now mother’s day is a joy it is a great space and whatever we do this morning it will still be a great space and you will still experience joy but it might be that this year that you lost a child it might be this year that you lost a mother it might be this year that you have longed to have a child and that isn’t part of your journey right now and so for you mother’s day is a sadness and so our prayer for you is that God brings comfort that God lifts you up and that you experience his love and joy but is mother’s day a huge part of alleged liturgy it isn’t we are in this process of moving from easter through to pentecost looking how like a tide like this powerful thing Jesus pulls people into the story and we just read the story about thomas also known as didymus one of the sort of forgotten of the 12 disciples Jesus gathered these 12 followers maybe you know some of the names you know peter you know john you know james maybe a couple of others thomas you maybe know but just for one particular reason he’s introduced to us here as didymus so my first question is this have you had a nickname have you had a nickname have you had a thing that people have added to you said this is this is what we’re going to call you as I think there’s something fascinating about them some of it is generational uh when I was on a trip to haiti we had about 15 of us in a in a van just going from one place to another and we just observed generationally people of a certain generation tenta and a phone have their name in the context their loved one their partner their husband their wife down as the full name so you might have first name and last name and then there was this sort of change in generation my generation I was just first named laura’s just in my phone as laura and we began to go around the the bus and just say what what do you have your husband and wife down in your phone house and we got to one of the younger people on the trip and when we got to her she just went bright red like a beetroot and she just looked at us and said I don’t think I can say it out loud to everyone on the bus there was obviously some name that was personal to them that they kept secret on their phones we have nicknames in popular culture this of course is dwayne johnson known as the rock what a great nickname if I want to if I have a nickname I’d want to be the rock this is val kilmer playing dark holiday dark was not his real name his real name was john holliday a little bit more boring he was known as doc for the most boring of reasons as well as being a gangster and a legendary gunfighter he was also a dentist you have to you have to be able to do different things to survive so he’s he’s also a dentist so he became known as doc holliday and then here’s one uh from back over my side of the pond uh the queen is known in correspondence as london bridge as london bridge so if she were to die the the press release would simply say london bridge has fallen and we’d know that this tragic day had come when this wonderful woman is no longer around nicknames uh appear for all sorts of reasons the first nickname I had was panda because it rhymed with alexander that was a four-year-old five-year-old nickname and then somewhat embarrassingly my next next nickname was tubster because I had a belly that stuck out when I was six or seven and I struggled with this I I remember saying to my mom like why is my brother’s belly flat and mine isn’t and she just very sweet he said that’s just the way God made you it’s absolutely fine but that was how I was known to my friends as a as an eight-year-old and then as I started to develop my own faith and would talk about it in the workplace the last nickname I ever had was was priest was priest thomas goes by the nickname didymus which simply means twin many of us may have had nicknames but I’m guessing you probably haven’t had an epithet thomas goes from someone who’s known by a nickname and becomes known as an epithet an epithet is something that gets added to your name as an extra thing some famous ones would be alexander the great or catherine the great pretty boring at this point they’re just the great because quite often you get an epithet for doing something significant sometimes something good and then sometimes something not so good in in homer’s tales odysseus is known as the great teller of tales every pastor I know would like that sort of thing added to the name I want to be alex the great the great teller of tales there is ivan the terrible another famous one and then this one thomas the doubter or doubting thomas the reason we know thomas the one reason that he’s well known in the story in amongst stories about peter and james and john seems to be because thomas is the disciple that doesn’t have faith he’s the one that doesn’t believe if we go back a little bit earlier in the story on the evening of that first day of the week when the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the jewish leaders Jesus came and stood amongst them and said peace be with you after he said this he showed them his hands and side the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the lord now thomas known as dittomus twin was one of the twelve was not one of the disciples was not with the disciples when Jesus came so the other disciples told him we have seen the lord but he said to them unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were and put my hand into his side I will not believe thomas was known as twins simply because he lived in a time where lots of people they didn’t have surnames you needed something to know that you were talking about the right person you might add the name of a town that they were born you might add the father something like that that gave them some distinction thomas is simply known as twin but we come to know him as doubting thomas even if you’re unfamiliar with the bible if you’ve never read anything particularly in this area you may know that just that is a piece of language that we use don’t be such a doubting thomas is something that we might say thomas twin becomes doubting thomas but he said to them unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my fingers where the nails were and put my hand into his side I will not believe thomas doesn’t fit as a disciple or what we picture the disciples as because of this right if you’re a follower of Jesus you should have this endless faith thomas why don’t you believe everybody else believes now why not you for some of us we might look at tom’s story and say no thomas come on you can do better than this why why are you the one that’s denying all this why are you the one that’s holding out on Jesus post resurrection I sometimes think that we see thomas as being an early version of this guy from this wonderful movie hook I do not believe in fairies every time someone says I do not believe in fury somewhere there is a fairy that falls down dead I do not believe in fairies

oh my God I think I killed it are you alive little bug look so this story is is is about peter pan grown up the boy that should never grow up has grown up and and at this point is a cynical sort of middle-aged man he’s like I don’t believe in fairies and and when told that a fairy will drop down dead if he says something like this he yells out loud even louder no I don’t believe in fairies I think this is a little bit at times in church how we see thomas if we know anything about him Jesus has come back he has risen again he’s appeared to the other disciples and when they tell him thomas response is I do not believe in Jesus resurrection he may as well be saying something like I do not believe in fairies we almost believe that somehow thomas in his denying of who Jesus is will do some kind of damage to Jesus we see him in this entirely negative sense and then thomas gets his redemption story a week later the decide his disciples were in the house again and thomas was with them though the doors were locked Jesus came and stood amongst them and said peace be with you then he said to thomas put your finger here see my hands reach out your hand and put it into my side stop doubting and believe thomas gets the thing that maybe so many of us would say if we’re honest we would love I would love to see Jesus resurrected in the flesh I would love to be able to make physical contact if I could only do that everything would be fine I had this friend that I used to work with when we were in our 20s and we would finish shifts late at night and he had no car so I would drive him home and then we would sit late into the night just having conversations about life and faith and danny would say he had no particular faith but he would say this if only I could know for certain I’d stop I’d give up everything anything that Jesus wanted I would happily do if only I could have some kind of certainty I think like we see thomas danny would say if only I could touch if only I could feel it’s interesting that almost all of the post-resurrection experiences have some kind of physicality to them Jesus eats things Jesus touches things people can touch him it seems that the writers of scripture are very keen that we know Jesus isn’t some kind of ghost or something like that some kind of apparition there is a real resurrection in this moment thomas asks to touch and he gets to touch he gets that joy but Jesus will then say to him something like you have believed because you have touched them because you’ve seen but blessed almost better is the person who believes when they haven’t got to see all of you and me we are in this line of thinking better because we believe without touching without seeing we have a different kind of faith is this a good reading of the passage that we just read is this what the writer john is trying to get us to sort of understand is he saying something as simple as this faith is good and doubt is bad and when thomas is doubting this is negative and when thomas decides to stop doubting then he steps into goodness positivity does this reading make sense is thomas the weak link disciple does he have a faith that’s less than the rest of the disciples is there something about him that seems inherently sort of broken is he just lacking in trust is this a rebuke of thomas is Jesus coming to him and saying thomas you have not done well and and now thomas finally believes and this point is like okay it would have been nice had you believe me beforehand but I can kind of see why you wouldn’t and now I’m kind of pleased with you on some kind of level I think that’s close to the reading that I grew up with when thomas doesn’t believe he’s not doing things well when he does believe everything is fixed everything is better and that doubt is bad and that faith is good and thomas if only you could just move from doubt to faith and everyone else sitting there in chairs if only you could just move from doubt to faith everything would be fine I think I’ve read thomas as almost this entirely negative character as a child I think I understood him as someone who was less than and doubting thomas seemed like a good name for him but based on what else we know about thomas is doubting an epithet that he deserves thomas doesn’t appear much in the stories again peter james john they’re the heroes so often of the disciples and sometimes the villains of the disciples thomas is almost just he’s just absent he gets made known in the lists of disciples but he doesn’t really do a lot except for one time Jesus is about to make at least in the mind of his disciples a very curious decision he’s been doing his ministry outside of judah or jerusalem specifically in places where it’s a little safer last week we talked about the difference between jerusalem and emmaus jerusalem is where everything happens and emmaus is a tiny village where nothing happens and Jesus for some reason has been doing most of his work in these tiny little villages and then he says to his disciples we’re going to make a shift he’s heard that his friend lazarus is sick and so we’re told john chapter 11 if you’re following along when Jesus heard that lazarus was sick he stayed where he was two more days and then he said to his disciples let’s go back to judah or judea there’s going to be a protest and if you were going to suggest that one of the disciples has some kind of weak linked faith one of the disciples is less than the others one of the disciples is negative and finds it hard to believe things you would expect right that thomas is going to be the one that says no this Jesus is a bad idea but look what happens in this passage but rabbi the disciples as a whole said a short while ago the jews there tried to stone you and yet you are going back as a whole group the disciples said Jesus the plan is bad we need a better plan going back to this area is not good for your health and by extension is probably not good for our health and Jesus in his brilliant Jesus-like way gives them an answer that seems to us as a it seems like a complete and unsequited I can imagine these disciples sort of looking at him saying Jesus you’re not really answering our concerns when you respond in this way Jesus answered are there not 12 hours of daylight okay yes I will go with you on that one anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble for they see by the world’s light it is when a person walks at night that they stumble for they have no light I could picture the disciples sort of going huh yeah okay it doesn’t again doesn’t necessarily address the concern they don’t like the plan they’re very honest about their dislike of the plan the plan does not seem good to them and yet Jesus of course will have his way and Jesus will do what he feels his father is calling him to do and so what happens now in this moment there’s a chance for one of them to speak up one of them to somewhat support Jesus and who is it it’s our friend doubting thomas thomas also known as didymus just so we know that we’re not mistaken said to the rest of the disciples let us also go that we may die with him thomas other big moment other than his moment of doubting is in this moment where Jesus presents a plan that seems fundamentally flawed in this moment where Jesus says we’re going to go back to judah and in a moment when every single one of the disciples is like this is bad thomas thomas is the one that says now let’s go with him if he dies we’ll die with him there’s this phrase that’s come up in modern language uh fairly recently it’s this one ride or die now it doesn’t necessarily mean originally what it has come to mean now originally the language of ride or die was what it was to love something so much you couldn’t imagine life without doing that thing so my uncle I never got to meet him he died before I was born was actually a motogp rider he used to go racing grand prix this is him on the isle of man tt this legendary race ended up crashing into a tree in a for in a grand prix in 1952 he he loved this and he lived for this and his brothers lived for this too even when they got older and they were still bachelors you would go to their house and when you walked into their their living room there was no television just a radio playing sports results and on the coffee table they would just have an engine block and they would just sit there like tinkering away with it just working away together there’s fairly good reasons they never got married trust me it was just it was kind of inevitable I would suggest but this language of ride or die has come to mean something else it’s come to be language that you use about someone that you can rely on even in the worst of situations in monday language you might say something like this person is my ride or die when I’m in the worst of times they will still be there if I go through anything this is a person I will guarantee I I can rely on thomas when we read him in the rest of john’s gospel he’s not doubting thomas a better epithet for me might be thomas the ride or die guy thomas is the guy that’s like no let us go with him that we might die with him that doesn’t seem like someone who is inherently prone to doubt what I would suggest has happened to thomas is this and let us remind ourselves for a second who thomas is we tend to think of the disciples I think as mostly people in their maybe 40s 50s we see pictures of them with big long beards sometimes just thrown in with a little bit of gray and that’s our picture thomas was probably 16 17 years old when he started following Jesus the oldest of Jesus followers was probably peter or maybe 21 but the rest of them were talking about guys in their teenage years maybe you can remember back to a time of life that you could easily commit to things and thomas is all in on following Jesus he is so committed to Jesus and who he who he is so committed that when Jesus comes up with a plan that seems to be bad the plan that could end up in death thomas response is let’s go with him if he’s going to die let’s die with him and then Jesus has died and suddenly everything thomas hopes that Jesus might do dies with him every single possibility might be created in the world is now no longer a possibility thomas has believed in Jesus so deeply and now there’s no possibility of any of those things happening have you been there now maybe it’s not in faith maybe it is maybe you’ve had moments of faith or you’ve said I just don’t know if I can believe this thing anymore maybe you’ve had moments of interaction with church and said I don’t know if I can sign up to do this again maybe you’ve been in a relationship that didn’t work out and said I don’t know if I can trust myself again maybe you’ve tried something and it’s just not worked out maybe you’ve had all of these hopes and you see them all crushed and you end up somewhere where thomas is right now how can he opt into believing in Jesus again when the other disciples come to him and say thomas we have seen Jesus his response is no I didn’t miss it I didn’t see I didn’t miss it because there is nothing there’s nothing to believe in anymore I can’t get on board with this any more for thomas he is in a place where how can he possibly believe that any of the hopes that he’d had before can ever be recovered there’s just nothing it’s just hopeless when we think about doubt I would suggest there’s probably two very different types of doubt maybe there’s more but I’m going to give you two there’s definitely head down there’s that intellectual conversation that we all have that questions things that we process things we say I’m not sure what I believe about this but then I would suggest there’s another kind of doubt there’s also heart doubt there’s also something maybe it’s even stomach but somewhere there there’s that almost gutter or feeling of just there’s something not right there’s something broken about this thing this situation is just it’s just not what it’s supposed to be God how have you let it get to here we sang that song didn’t we for those of you that were singing with us we sang that song all my life you have been faithful and sometimes I sing that song and I’m like oh wow yes you have absolutely I see all of these places God you have been so faithful in your goodness and then if I’m honest there’s times where I’m like huh I can see faithfulness in the past and I can even believe maybe that there might be faithfulness in the future but right now this situation why is this faithful why is this right why is this good why is this fair all of these different questions that come up there is head doubt that every single person has most of the time just to encourage you a little bit if you’re a theist someone who believes deeply in God and you just wonder about questions you have it was a joy to me to hear that atheists have the same sort of doubts that we have as well c.s lewis said this when I was an atheist I had moods in which christianity looked terribly probable he as someone who said there is no God said oh I am terrified when I get too far down an intellectual rabbit hole I start saying oh man maybe the whole thing is true this is almost a universal experience we have these questions we wrestle with them and all of those different things and and Jesus wrestled with this too or at least was challenged on this look at this fascinating passage matthew chapter four then the devil took him Jesus to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple if you are the son of God he said throw yourself down for it is ridden he will command his angels concerning you and they will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike strike your feet against a stone it’s if language right is this really true can you really believe this you keep saying to people you’re the son of God do you realize how that sounds to everybody there’s head down and then there’s heart doubt and the sad news is or the hard news is maybe maybe the uncomfortable news for you is that Jesus experienced that too about three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice eli eli lemma sabachthani which means my God my God why have you forsaken me that questioning of how is the world ended up like this how is this the story that’s Jesus too in this moment at this moment this isn’t an intellectual conversation this isn’t a discussion that we have that goes on in our heads is this true is this accurate this is a felt thing this is a guttural thing of what how are we here my God my God how have you forsaken in this moment when he quotes psalm 22 there was this heartbreaking rendering cry oh man I have been forsaken the writer g.k chesterton says this in the terrific tale of the passion there is a distinct emotional suggestion that the author of all things in some unthinkable way when not only through agony but through doubt as he writes this he actually says hold on a second let me before I say this thing I know some of you might wrestle with this I know some of you might get mad at me he actually says just wait don’t don’t don’t don’t just do whatever to me because I’m gonna make a suggestion that you might find uncomfortable because for some of us the idea that Jesus could feel any sense of doubt is a difficult one to handle and yet what we’re told by writers of scripture is this is he was in every way challenged as we were in everything like us he struggled had to face those temptations imagine if you could pull doubt out of the human realm of experience that would be a joy to so many of us and to believe that Jesus just got to bypass it and live a human experience just doesn’t add up with what we’re told it was for Jesus to live the life that he lived it seems that somewhere he experienced those some things in some unthinkable way in g.k chesterton’s beautiful language he went not only through the agony of the cross but but also through doubt thomas may have intellectual doubts about resurrection but somewhere there’s also that heart thing of oh my goodness this just doesn’t feel right and I just don’t know if I can sign up to this again he is not saying I have looked at the intellectual marketplace of faith and decided that Jesus christ no longer represents the best offer of eternal life or something similar to that that’s not what he’s saying what he’s saying is God has let me down Jesus wasn’t who I thought he was I am disappointed and I can’t keep doing this I can’t sign back in and you guys you other disciples you may see say that you saw him risen but a better explanation for me is you saw a ghost a better explanation for me is it was a mass hallucination a better explanation for me is something other than the reality of resurrection and then and then when we look at it through that light through that experience what fascinates me is how this incredible Jesus comes along this disciple in his lowest point and walks him through a movement of faith a week later his disciples were in the house again I love that language a week later it’s a week later and thomas is still there this guy that professes to I can never believe again I can never get on board again a week later is still there I have often wondered why this passage exists I’ve often wondered why Jesus didn’t just appear to the 12 disciples or now 11 after judas at a time when they were all there why leave any of them out why not just pick a time when everyone was present and it suggests to me that somewhere we’re supposed to learn something that’s something from this story and then my follow-up question is why pick thomas why thomas why not peter he’s always outspoken always certain of everything he believed why not john the disciple that we’re told that Jesus loved when are james why not any of these guys why thomas this unheard of guy but remember who thomas was thomas is the right or die guy thomas is the let’s go back with him that we might die with him thomas is the the plan is crazy guy but I’m still in on the plan because I am so committed to Jesus the plan doesn’t really matter it’s Jesus I’m I’m still with him this is who thomas is I just have this sneaking suspicion that any of the other disciples have they been put in this situation they will be gone they would be out of there yet a week later we read thomas thomas was still there still meeting with them still present still in the building when Jesus turns up again a week later his disciples were in the room again and thomas was with them though the doors were locked Jesus came and stood amongst them and said peace be with you then he said to thomas put your finger here see my hands reach out your hand and put it into my side stop doubting and believe there is this possibility that thomas has this opportunity thomas has that none of us get right none of us get to touch Jesus and know physically that he’s there that he is present and thomas gets that and then the language stop doubting and believe again we we might read that as stop doing the bad thing thomas start doing the good thing gout is bad faith is good stop doing that and do this one instead but the language here is fascinating this is the greek language for those of you that like your little bits of linguistics the language is and don’t be unbelieving but believing choose faith not no faith I would suggest that faith and doubt are not opposite ends of a spectrum I would say we all constantly experience what it is to interact with doubt sometimes it is intellectual sometimes it’s guttural and felt and yet in each and every one of those situations what we get to pick it seems according to Jesus is now I’m going to move towards believing I’m going to move away from unbelieving in the midst of my doubts in the midst of my questions I’m going to choose belief we it seems are all doubters it seems we are all that is it’s a a universal expression this is the cry the prayer of a young father who is watching his child go through incredible experiences difficult experiences and wants Jesus to step into the situation in mark chapter 9 verse 24 he says this I do believe help by unbelief have you ever prayed that I have definitely prayed something that looks similar to that I have definitely said God I am struggling wrestling with all of my questions both intellectual and fel all of the ways that I look at the world and say how is it like this all of the ways I look at my personal situations at different points and say this doesn’t feel like it’s supposed to be this way and I have definitely said something like I do believe but but I’m definitely going to need your help thomas is not the natural doubter thomas is the natural right or guy guy thomas is committed to the core and yet goes into this place of this incredible existential doubt all of these questions and Jesus pulls him back and pulls him back to such a degree in a moment thomas is about to make a statement that he’s unmatched anywhere in the rest of scripture in all of scripture no one makes a statement of faith about Jesus to the equivalent of this one that thomas is about to make it has become part of every creed every piece of language of the christian faith thomas is about to say something that defines what we as followers of Jesus believe about him in this moment where Jesus appears to him he makes this statement my lord and my God for a jewish person to say something like this in the first century this kind of statement could easily get you killed this was not something to be said about a human being and yet this is the statement thomas makes if you’re contemplating seminary I’m going to save you like thousands of dollars of money because this is the only thing that you need to know from seminary there are these language pieces that are somewhat important but not as often as you think they are and yet occasionally they just highlight something beautifully in the text there is two types of language pieces at issue here there is nominative and vocative and I’m going to explain them to you really briefly for the one time that it actually really deeply matters vocative is the language that we’ve used all through our time of worship we have said things directly to God we have sung songs to him and used his name and the nominative nominative is something a little different nominative is when you see you make a statement about a person if thomas right now uses language that’s evocative what you could hear him as saying is this my rabbi has risen again my lord and my God thank you so much for what you have done here the language could be directed to God in heaven but the language isn’t vocative the language is nominative the language is directed about it is directly about Jesus thomas makes this statement that really is just groundbreaking and unmatched and so fascinating because right at the beginning of his account of Jesus life john has said this in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God he has used this language the word which could mean reason or statement about Jesus he has said that this person is God in our midst and then for the rest of his account nobody has said this nobody has made this kind of statement and john waits until almost right at the end and right at the end as almost this crescendo to the gospel there was this moment where thomas gets this statement thomas gets put in the place of not seeing Jesus risen has to wait eight days but at the end of that eight days what we get is the most incredible statement when we think about this language of reason you might describe it as this very complicated before a second cup of coffee I grant you a universal divine reason imminent in nature yet transcending all oppositions and imperfections in the cosmos and humanity broadly speaking what it says is this Jesus is the reason and explanation for everything and the first person on earth to know it is the one we call doubting thomas his journey is the first journey that gets to this point every single one of the other disciples says Jesus is risen this is good news in some way thomas looks at the situation and says do you know what this means this means Jesus explains everything about the way the world works thomas movement is incredible from I’m ride or die let’s go with him and die with him all the way through to I can never believe this again and now to make this statement and thomas just in a little bit of nerdy church history will then take the silk trail and he’ll head all the way from somewhere over here and he’ll land over here in india and when you go to india and talk to the christians there they would tell you thomas was the first person that brought this message to them thomas the doubter just doesn’t fit thomas is the ultra committed thomas is the faithful thomas is the one who gets to the point that every single one of us might get to always say I just don’t know if this thing is working I just feel the story is broken I am so mad and so disappointed God you have let me down thomas gets to that point thomas gets to Jesus moment of the crowd on the cross my God my God why have you forsaken me and then and then he gets back to my lord and my God garden gets back to this journey thomas story is not one simply of doubt is bad faith is good thomas story is one of what it is to wrestle with the worst of doubt the worst of experiences and come out the other side still believing something and still knowing that somehow Jesus explains everything about the world and why it works the way it does the question I have for us is this what are we supposed to do with this story what are we supposed to do with it johnny’s pretty clear that he writes for a reason he wants us to be able to take the story and and use it in some way yes the story is important for thomas but it also is supposed to mean something for us Jesus told him because you have seen me you have believed blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed somewhere Jesus uses language that says that desire all of us secretly have to just see him in person to have the physicality to be able to touch and to feel like we can know for certain for some reason though he doesn’t reveal that’s not a good thing for us we don’t really need that maybe your question has been why won’t you do that for me why can’t I have what thomas gets to have and if I would have to think through why Jesus might say this isn’t a good idea why it doesn’t fit what I wonder is this I just wonder if he would say I haven’t had a great track record with proving myself to people through signs and wonders and miracles back in john chapter 6 he says this to a group of people that are considering following him very truly I tell you you are looking for me not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and you had your fill somewhere to a group of followers he says you’re not here because I did wonderful things you’re not here because I gave you some level of certainty as to who I was you’re here because I gave you food if you came for the donuts I’m okay with it it’s fine you’re here it’s not a problem but there is this language that suggests the signs don’t do what we think they’ll do we think they’ll give us certainty and they never really do they don’t move us to that point what seems to transform is stories of other people’s transformation as he kind of rounds up this whole passage this is what the writer will say Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples which are not recorded in this book but these these signs they are written that you may believe that Jesus is the messiah the son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name what we’re told is what we have to read that’s enough if you want more signs sometimes they’ll appear but don’t rely on them don’t predict them don’t guarantee on them these things these things we have recorded thomas journey it’s recorded there so that you and I can believe Jesus took the person who was right or died the person with the strongest faith and left him in a place where he had nothing left and then brought him back to this point of being able to say my lord and my God if it can happen to thomas it can happen to any of us if you find yourself in a place where intellectual doubt seems to be buzzing around your head and you long to get to a point of saying I’d love to lay these these doubts to rest my heartbreaking maybe news for you is I don’t know if you’ll ever get to that point I don’t know if that ever stops if you’re hoping that you’ll never have a dark night of the soul never have a moment where you look at the world or your own life and say God where are you in the midst of this if you won’t cry out like Jesus cried out like thomas might have cried out I would love to tell you that will never happen but the truth is you might there might be moments of why there might be questions of how has it ended up like this and yet somewhere what is incredibly true is this wonderful Jesus like he did for thomas comes alongside us maybe not physically but certainly spiritually and says move towards believing trust that I have the story in hand I’m still working on it it’s still a process I am with you and we get to respond like thomas responded we get to look and experience that we get to hear the stories of other people experiencing that and we get to make that faith statement that says Jesus I don’t have all of the answers to everything but I believe you are the best explanation for this world and why it is the way it is and the best hope for what it might look like in the future we get to sit in this tension faith is confidence in what we hope for an assurance about what we do not see we are left waiting for something more we’re left waiting for a Jesus who said well I will return one day I will be back with you and we wait and we wait and we wait and we trust and we wrestle with doubt and wrestle with our questions about why the world isn’t all just fixed and why everything doesn’t look as we would hope it looked and we say I choose to believe I choose to move in that direction I choose to move away from unbelief and towards belief I would say the story of thomas the message of thomas is not the doubt is inherently bad it’s that in the midst of wrestling with doubt we get that option we get to move towards Jesus and we get to move towards believing that journey can be painful it can be hard it can be difficult but somewhere we may stand there like thomas stood there and say this is my lord and this is my God he explains everything about the universe and we sit in the tension and we wait and we hope let’s pray

God for those of us today that are in a place of simplicity we stand here with no doubts experiencing you God I rejoice for that season

for those of us that come this morning wrestling with intellectual doubts wrestling with existential fel doubts

God I know what that is I’ve sat in that place

whatever we need would you speak to us for those of us that find belief in this moment so so easy we rejoice for those of us that sit in that tension of doubt and say like that man with a son I believe help my unbelief would you give us what we need and that spectrum of belief to unbelief help us to move towards belief help us to choose that story come alongside us maybe not physically come alongside us and lead us

remind us that you’re not mad at us that you’re not disappointed in us that you know us and you know our story just like you knew thomas the guy who was so committed he would give everything

but you brought him through to this incredible faith statement that changed everything that we knew about you and who you are thank you that you picked thomas on that journey you didn’t go for the well-known guys you didn’t go for the guys that seemed like they had it all together you picked thomas who never really does anything else that we get to read about

thank you that you picked a guy that seemed so certain about everything so committed

and in the midst of his own crisis of faith you brought him back to a place of goodness of joy

if it can happen to thomas it can probably happen to us

so in this moment we make this faith statement in song for those of us that are following you and wrestling with doubts we sing this song in christ alone we make this statement I’m choosing belief for those of us maybe that have always questioned intellectually maybe we’re in a place of just constantly the the wheels are always turning

we can sing this song as a first statement of faith

for those of us that just need you to be present with us

I pray we’d experience the joy of your presence

thank you that we get to believe together as a community

thank you that you love south and you love each of us

guide us on our journey amen

The Story of Thomas | Riptide (Part 3)2022-07-14T14:35:23-06:00

Road to Emmaus | Riptide (Part 2)

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good morning friends how are you doing today my name is alex I’m one of the pastors here someone called me out the other day they were like you stopped introducing yourself what happened I don’t know I just forgot um I thought by now it was just I’d done enough work but apparently not so my name’s alex I’m one of the pastors here we are in a series called riptide uh what does that mean uh it’s an image of what it is to stand in the ocean maybe you’ve done that maybe you’ve stood like ankle deep and you felt that undertow that thing that kind of pulls you into it that’s a picture of what I would say this Jesus story becomes like post easter Jesus has died he’s risen again but nobody knows it’s changed everything and yet individually it’s changed nothing because his earliest followers are still in a place where they they still think he’s dead and what we get to do is we get to watch as this very brilliant Jesus pulls them back into this big story that has changed everything we get to look at the ways that we are like them they they have a bunch of doubts but a bunch of fears bunch of insecurities all of these different elements that make us or weaknesses of being human perhaps is a good way of saying it and Jesus deals with all of them pulls them in to this grand narrative so if you have a text you’d like to open with me luke 24 luke is one of the biographies of Jesus life one of the gospels if you’re kind of new to this church thing this bible thing verse 13 is where we will start now that same day two of them were going to a village called emmaus about seven miles from jerusalem they were talking with each other about everything that had happened as they talked and discussed these things with each other Jesus himself came up and walked along with them but they were kept from recognizing him he asked them what are you discussing together as you walk along they stood still their faces down cast one of them named cleopas asked him are you the only one visiting jerusalem who does not know these the things that have happened there these last days what things he asked Jesus kind of playing coy with him a little bit he kind of knows what happened about Jesus of nazareth they replied he was a prophet powerful in word and deed before God and all the people the chief priests our rulers handed them over him over to be sentenced to death and they crucified him but we had hoped he was the one who was going to redeem israel and what is more it is the third day since all this took place in addition some of our women amazed us they went to the tomb early this morning they didn’t find his body they came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said but they did not see Jesus he said to them how foolish you are how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken did not the messiah have to suffer all these things then enter his glory and beginning with moses and all the prophets he explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning himself as they approached the village to which they were going Jesus continued on as if he were going farther but they urged him strongly stay with us for it is nearly evening the day is almost over so we went in to stay with them when he was at the table with them he broke took bread gave thanks broke it and began to give it to them then their eyes were opened and they recognized him and he disappeared from their sight they asked each other were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us they got up and returned at once to jerusalem where they found the eleven and those with them assembled together saying it is true the lord has risen and has appeared to simon when the two told what had happened on the way and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke bread God would you speak to us here as a community of people as individuals that need to hear from you people who come in with all sorts of stories in all sorts of places as we come to this thing that we call table communion breaking of bread eucharist mass God would you remind us that this is about your presence and that’s something that we need very deeply wherever we are God in this week as we often pray would you comfort the afflicted would you afflict the comfortable and would you teach us what it is to live in your way with your heart amen so here we go luke chapter 23 verse 13 onwards let me start you with a question have you ever taken the wrong direction are you someone that follows directions well are you someone that gets lost easily are you someone that would confess to getting lost easily are you someone that your husband or wife would say no they take the wrong directions repeatedly they don’t listen to simple instructions I’m guessing most of us at different points have taken a wrong direction even if it’s just because of not listening I had what I might call a superpower back in another life uh when I used to work with students I was known for one thing well I was known for some things but but one thing I’m going to talk about right now is I was known for paying zero attention to road traffic signals whatsoever I would just flat out ignore them now here’s the great thing about emigrating to a different country when you move to a different country you get to like forever blame everything that you do wrong on not having grown up in the country that you’re now living in it’s a wonderful get out for almost everything so these red things with the white down here I don’t really know what they are I just kind of just breeze through them because we don’t really use them in england we have all the traffic islands and everything and so these things I would just ignore them but but perhaps worse still the one above it the one-way sign I used to ignore that one as well I just wasn’t looking for them and detroit as a road system is based on you have one road that goes one way and then a block higher you’ll have a road that goes the other way and so on so forth maybe there’s something that exists similar in denver as well and so I would regularly turn the wrong way onto one way streets and to be honest nothing ever really went wrong like I’m just unsurprised after all this time I would take these wrong directions all the time and somehow it would all seem to work out if not good at least neutral I guess I got to where I wanted to go quicker so maybe that was it was good in and of itself I repeatedly went the wrong direction and it turned out just neutral with a 15-seater passenger bus full of sometimes more than 15 teenagers uh I won’t own to a just being 15. I would take the wrong direction repeatedly over and over again sometimes taking the wrong direction leads you to a good place this is a play this is a picture of pelican lake in all minnesota a beautiful place laura’s family have a lake house up there we’ll go in the summer and the only reason we go here is that many many years ago someone said to her grandfather you really need to take your family on vacation to pelican lake in minnesota it’s going to change your life and so listening to his dentist as you should always listen to your dentist he went and he said I’m going to take my family there turns out some mischievous person named multiple lakes pelican lake in minnesota so he went to the wrong one and then has gone there every year for the last 40 or so years in this case a wrong direction led to just joy happy accident all of those different things and then sometimes a wrong direction leads to disastrous results the writer dallas willard begins his book the divine conspiracy with a story of a jet pilot who on seeing a mountain range goes to pull the plane up to avoid it and crashes straight into the ground the pilot was flying upside down and had become confused enough that they didn’t know what direction they were now heading in in that case it leads to disastrous results right wrong directions can be good can be bad can be neutral they happen life happens around us but how many of you have ever taken a wrong direction on purpose how many have just said just I’m just intentionally gonna go the wrong way maybe this is like the introvert’s way of getting out of parties like if I get lost I don’t have to go I can stay in my car everything will be great but it’s rare I think to go the wrong direction just completely and intentionally on purpose and yet that is what I would suggest these first followers are doing let’s begin again luke chapter 11 verse 13 now that same day two of them will go into a village called emmaus about seven miles from jerusalem let us remind ourselves this is resurrection sunday this is the day that everything happens the day that the worldwide story changes forever and this day this day when the other disciples are waiting around to see what happened this day two of them are getting out of town two of them are leaving two of them are on their way to this tiny little town called emmaus that was about seven miles from jerusalem this is not the 21st century we’re talking about here people did not go on leisure walks of seven miles or so that just wasn’t part of their culture and yet these two are at a point where they say no we’re leaving what’s significant about emmaus nothing is significant about emmaus that’s the point looking back historically we don’t even know where emmaus was some people say maybe seven miles some people say 10 some people say 15 this town is so insignificant nothing will ever happen there again and yet two of them are leaving jerusalem to go to emmaus they’re leaving jerusalem to go to emmaus to put this in some context for you some first century context what’s significant about jerusalem everything is significant about jerusalem everything happens in jerusalem when God does something he does it in jerusalem the temple the center of their faith it’s in jerusalem jerusalem is central to everything that is where God works and now they’re leaving now they’re like what we’re getting out of jerusalem for some reason even think about the stories about Jesus we read today you’ve got these four gospels matthew mark luke and john they are all centered around Jesus movement towards jerusalem the the gospels are interesting biographies are sometimes called them biographies just to help us kind of get a sense of of what they are in essence but but most biographies don’t spend half of the time talking about the week somebody died they spend most of the time talking about the person’s life and yet these stories seem to think everything is so significant about Jesus death that they spend all of their time and energy there and it’s all centered around what Jesus does and where he does it these incredible events have happened in jerusalem Jesus has died and everything is paused and now these two disciples now they’re leaving why are they leaving I would suggest they’re leaving for multiple practical reasons they’re leaving perhaps because they’re scared they’re leaving because the story doesn’t look the way that they want the story to look anymore I would suggest that there’s a load of good reasons we could pull out for leaving jerusalem but let’s kind of tap into their story a little bit and just see if there’s anything in the text that kind of shed some light on this verse 13 and 14 now that same day two of them were going to the village court of mass about seven miles from jerusalem they were talking with each other about everything that had happened Jesus has died that is their constant conversation they are going back over the events that have led up to that perhaps they’re unpacking some of what they hoped would happen on this great weekend when Jesus ends up in jerusalem on passover this special jewish day all of the hopes that went along with that there reiterating just where the story has gone and then beautifully in the way that luke writes Jesus turns up in the midst of their conversation as they talked and discussed these things with each other Jesus himself came up and walked along with them but they were kept from recognizing him why would they expect him to be there they’re leaving the place where God works they’re leaving the place where everything happens they’re going in the wrong direction why would God turn up when you’re actively going in the wrong direction this guard apparently does exactly that he asked them what are you discussing together as you walk along and they stood still their faces down cast these are not two people that are waiting to experience good news these are not two people that are expecting to hear stories of resurrection these are two people that have evaluated the story I’ve said the story isn’t where it’s supposed to be and are now leaving the place where most of the story happened they stood still their faces down cast they are miserable and I love it love it when the bible brings humor into the midst of the story because Jesus is going to say something to them and it just yeah it makes me chuckle one of them named cleopas asked him are you the only one visiting jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days this language the only one visiting jerusalem they suggest that Jesus is a foreigner an outsider an alien all of the things I talk to about living in a different country they’re like are you an outsider you you don’t fit in around here you seem to have missed everything important that is going on there’s this delicious irony that the writer is very well aware of they’re kind of making fun of Jesus or almost questioning his intelligence he doesn’t know what’s going on in the story and yet they are the ones that are walking alongside Jesus and they have no clue that it’s Jesus they are talking to Jesus is the only one in the story that knows what’s happening they are clueless and they are suggesting that he is clueless a little bit of first century humor there for you what things he asked about Jesus of nazareth they replied he was a prophet powerful in the word and deed before God and all the people these are people that still believe that Jesus fits into the old ways of doing things the jewish community waited time and time again for a prophet to come up he would say something to stir the people up and then society would fix itself for a while and then it would regularly become broken again they still expect that Jesus might work in this way he was powerful in word and deed and what was he going to do what were we hoping for the chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death and they crucified him but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem israel now if you’re a church person the word redeem might seem familiar we might use it to talk about being forgiven of sins Jesus death and resurrection but most commonly in this culture what did it mean right now what did it mean to redeem israel men he was the one that was going to fix the big problem maybe you’ve used that language yourself maybe you’ve looked back and said ah remember when this country used to be the way it used to be remember like 50 years ago things looked like they should 30 years ago things looked like they should 10 years ago things look like they should we use that language all the time right we long to go back to a different time and place we reflect on those things I I would regularly take trips out to a place in romania and I would engage with this community out there and I would look and say there’s something so beautiful about the way that this is operating it feels so good and I would reflect on how much I longed for society to look like that again I’m not making a comment or a value statement on that I’m not saying it’s good or bad I’m just observing that we do that and they do it too wouldn’t it be great if this nation used to be what it was wouldn’t it be great if someone came in and fixed that we had expected or hoped that he was the one that was going to redeem israel we had thought Jesus might make the nation look like the nation should look again and he didn’t he didn’t the expectation failed it wasn’t what we’d hoped it would be this is a group of people that are disappointed they are grief-stricken yes their leader is dead but but most of all they’re disappointed that the leader didn’t live up to their expectations it’s nothing’s going to change now Jesus his work did nothing and then they start to reveal a little bit of the big conversation you’d almost think they would mention this beforehand but no they are filling in this outsider this stranger with some details about the crucifixion in addition some of our women amazed us that word amazed is a little bit fascinating it’s this greek word existing yes amazed is a good translation but but you might say more more accurately to put out of standing to knock somebody off their feet if you’re asking a question related to this word you might say something like am I going out of my mind these women have now come to us with a story that has started to make us question some things we’re kind of a little taken aback by everything that is happening here but still still the whole sort of tone of the conversation is it’s it’s disappointed they came and told us that they’d seen visions of angels who said he was alive then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the woman said but but they did not see Jesus just like the language of we kind of came to the conclusion they they might be a little bit crazy maybe that maybe they’ve lost their minds there’s something strange going on here yes but but it’s not what we hope for really their words aren’t the most important thing about this whole passage the most important thing it’s their actions they didn’t stay they weren’t hopeful they left in the midst of this tragedy Jesus has died and now the only sort of pathway for them is we gotta leave think about those of you who joined us last week mary magdalene this other story she she lingers yes she’s broken-hearted yes she’s had this experience this encounter with Jesus that has changed everything yes all that’s at risk now that he’s dead but she’s still she still still stays in the heart of the action still stays and hopes but not clear person and not his companion they they go that song that we sang this is my story this is my song that would be not that would not be true of these two right now to them it’s not their story anymore to them they’ve kind of given up on that they are leaving the story they’re getting as far away from it as they can their actions pro they remind me of my favorite stage direction in shakespeare now now why you get shakespeare two weeks in a row there is no pattern but you do there’s this beautiful stage direction in the play a winter’s tale it just says this exit actor pursued by a bear and so every school boy in england that gets to read this play has drawn pictures of just what this looks like to have a bunch of actors fleeing the stage as a bear for susan they apparently didn’t get an american education where you told don’t run from bears right they’re always faster than you but they didn’t so you get these delightful little like sketches of exit pursued by a bear you get the beautiful silhouette version of just the guy who’s getting out of town because I just love pop culture of all kinds also throwing there’s this delightful moment in the movie paddington 2 where hugh grant is chasing poor little paddington down a train and paddington’s about to fall off the end of the train and hugh grant looks at him and he says exit bear pursued by an actor little twist on the whole thing right there and I think I was the only person that laughed the first time and the second time and the third and fourth and fifth time I’ve seen it an embarrassing amount of times and still laughed regularly it’s a picture of what it is to experience a story a tale that has come into trauma that is now broken and to leave in shakespeare it’s a device that allows the character antigonus to go and then he’ll be killed by the bear because again if you’re out there you don’t run from bears uh the whole they’re more scared of you are than than you than you are of them or whatever is not true they they will just chase you and do what they did to antigonus it allows antigonus to die and the hero not to get his hands dirty it’s just a literary function but it is a picture of what it is to experience a struggle in a story and say we’ve got to get off stage we have to go we have to get out of here that is what comes to mind for me when I see these two characters leaving this story in jerusalem there is a story that has become broken and they say no we got to get out of there why emmaus for no reason other than it’s not jerusalem we just have to go they they are leaving a story they believe to be broken think about what they’ve experienced this week think about all of the things they might say about the story they are experiencing Jesus is dead that in itself is enough of a reason to leave we followed this leader we believed he might redeem israel the roman problem we have romans all over our streets he’s not going to do anything about that now he’s now dead there are too many of those romans to think about fighting oh emmaus emmaus is much safer nothing ever happens in emmaus we can just go there maybe there is somebody else maybe another messiah figure will come maybe someone who will actually deal with the roman problem maybe they’ll appear out of somewhere maybe they’ll appear in emmaus even though it seems unlikely finally it was a good story it was a good story while it lasted we followed Jesus and all of these things will happen that seemed like something we could get involved in but now I don’t see this story working anymore now it’s time to go have you been where they are now you probably haven’t been in jerusalem heading to emmaus but I would suspect like me you’ve got moments in your life experience where there’s been times where the story or a part of it has seemed broken enough where you said I really need to get out of here there are too many bears in this story right now I really need to get moving I really need to find something new this story at this point seems broken enough that there seems to be no good solution my mind just can’t figure out a way that this can be okay anymore it doesn’t have to be the whole story but maybe just an element of it a particular thing that makes you think I don’t know if I can keep doing this when I was in detroit there was a pastor of a church that was growing rapidly and they had two services that were just packed with people they were talking about a third service just so many great things happening but he talks about his experience in between those two services where he shut himself in a broom closet and sat contemplating this question if I start driving now how far away will I be before people realize I’m not here for the second service if I just leave now everything seemed to be good but to him this story was just so hard so difficult he just started to say if I just start driving like 20 miles 30 miles you see what you guys can do to people just to warn you just you know I just I haven’t found myself in a broom closet yet but you never know there are moments where we have a story where we say how how far can I get away from it I was reading this book the other day called you are not your own and it starts to sketch out everything in the author’s mind that he sees as wrong with the world currently and he starts to get you into a place of just wow what do I do with this book so I turned to laura in the midst of it and I said do you want to just homestead do you want to buy a piece of like property because that’s easy we’ll just grow crops and sustain a family and all of those different things everything will be just a breeze and then the author in this beautiful moment says right now I’ve probably got you in a place where you’re like we should just homestead and I was like he caught me um there was these times in life where we experienced just what what do I do with this place in the story it feels like it would be easier just to get out just to exit I even drew you a guy gave you a picture of apparently I wanted to homestead and get about 40 years old I would just be happy just easy everything’s easy when you home stead we have moments in our stories where we just wonder what we do with it it just it just feels a little broken like where do we go from here maybe we don’t ask the same questions or make the same statements that these first followers of Jesus did but there’s probably other ones that we do make we might say something like this this situation whatever it is this is beyond fixing this business this marriage this family this society this could be anything I can’t keep doing this I feel so depleted I’m running I’m empty there is no energy anymore I just can’t sustain can’t sustain they whoever they are business partner husband wife kids family members teammates they will never change and then this last one this last one is the one that gets me over and over again I just need a fresh start you know sometimes you have that feeling if you could just blank slate everything if you could just go back to the oh wow I’d do it differently this time but everything everything would be fine whatever the reason is we feel this way about different elements of our story and maybe if you’re honest you feel this way about the Jesus story in general maybe you look at the church and say I just don’t know if this thing works anymore you see all of the different ways that the church has impacted society in ways that might be negative you say why am I still committing myself to this story it just feels hopeless whatever you might say whatever I might say to put it into the language of shakespeare really what we’re saying is there are too many bears in this story the story is too broken the story is too fractured and it just seems easier just to get out it just seems easier to go to homesteading and we end up where these disciples are on the day of resurrection not waiting to see if the story changes they are just they’re getting out of town and they’re heading to emmaus why emmaus just because it’s safe just because it’s not jerusalem we’ve just got to we’ve just got to get out of there and in moments when I feel like that I have to ask myself some questions first question I have to ask myself is this I have to ask myself is the story broken not is the story uncomfortable not is the story what I want it to be right now but I have to ask is it broken is the problem with the story and this is just a test case there is the problem maybe with me in the midst of that story other stories you definitely need to leave definitely there are stories abusive relationships different things that we could conjure up that would say you’ve got to get out of that thing there are ways that we are fully able to hope for a different story to believe that God can change narratives absolutely but there’s definitely times I would suggest where we have moments where we say I’d just like to get out of this part of this thing I’d just like to move into something new and I’d like it to happen quickly there’s definitely times where I say that and sometimes sometimes it’s not the story sometimes it’s me because this is a confession right this is this is me being able to say this is me being able to be honest this there’s times where where I have a tendency to make myself the center of the story when I use language like the story is broken when when I pick an element of life and say yeah this isn’t working as it’s supposed to work what I really mean is not that it’s not functioning as a whole I mean it’s not feeling good to me right now it’s not functioning the way that alex would have it be alex is the center of the world right and it just it just I want this to adapt I want this to change or I want to blank slate this thing I want to fix it it’s interesting that when Jesus conjured up his faith his way that what it was to look uh to live life in in his way and with his heart this is one of the things he said this is luke chapter nine this is just after some of his followers have started to realize that he is who he said he was this started to twig there’s a light bulb moment Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone the son of man must suffer many things he said he must be rejected by the elders chief priests and scribes and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life then Jesus said to all of them if anyone wants to come after me he must deny himself take up his cross daily and follow me unpopularly Jesus said this as the jerusalem landscape was littered with roman crosses with people that had been crucified on them in the midst of something that was a sign of roman oppression about everything everything about the way you know we’ve talked about the world shouldn’t work this way we should fix it we should go back to the old way it’s littered with these crosses and Jesus is pointing to things of execution and saying if you want to follow me it looks like those guys on those things it’s just a horrible way to start a faith unless you mean it right it’s just a horrible sort of invitation somewhere someone once said that we have made this incredible shift this this shift that we can only make with our 21st century minds we have taken a faith that began with a founder who said this if anyone wants to come after me he must take up his cross and we’ve somehow turned it into Jesus said come to me and everything in your life will be wonderful and it’s like the antithesis right so if you’re listening for the first time if you’re on video at home wherever I’m sorry for the deeply unpopular truth that Jesus said uncomfortable things like this there is a huge part of me that would like to magic it away and say Jesus this isn’t how we build a large community of faith this isn’t how we build religion this is not good marketing like you can’t instagram that in a way that is compelling and yet he chose to say it sometimes what I have to ask myself is when I have a story that I feel is broken when I feel like there’s too many bears and I’m getting out of the story for a good reason it just needs to change the problem if I’m honest is this it’s not the bears it’s the crosses it’s what it takes it’s the sacrifice that it takes to live in the story sometimes if I’m honest that that part is the problem henry now and said this this is what Jesus means when he asks you to take up your cross he encourages you to recognize and embrace your unique suffering and to trust that your way to salvation lies therein taking up your cross means first of all befriending your wounds and letting them reveal to you your own truth he encourages you to recognize and embrace your unique suffering and to trust that your way to salvation lies therein he doesn’t say get out of it he says recognize that I might be working in it and that again just deeply uncomfortable deeply counterintuitive to what we would believe in the 21st century another writer jenny allen said this when the enemy invites us to taste the fruit of self-importance and be like God we can choose instead to take up a cross and follow Jesus knowing that our identity is anchored in him alone I would love to know what he’s going through the mind of cleopas and his friend as they just get out of town but what I would suggest is it seems like the story can’t be fixed it seems like this is a self-preservation thing and while I haven’t got their exact experience I know that for me so often my movements my decisions it’s a self-preservation thing it’s about me as the center but something else as well I have a tendency to function as though Jesus isn’t present in the story there’s this other weird 21st century invention it’s fascinating you might call it functional atheism now I’m not suggesting every single one of us in this room don’t really believe in God we may even say things like one day everything will be good there’s this story that’s still to develop but what we definitely seem to have a tendency towards is this we say all of those things we believe those things but the moment life gets difficult and it doesn’t fit what we want or expect we actually really don’t believe some of the things that we say we do we say Jesus is present when life is good and yet in those moments we we don’t when it gets difficult when it comes down to it if we’re honest it’s this weird tendency that I think that we have and I do this all the time too I have a tendency to make myself the center of the story and have a tendency to function as though Jesus isn’t present and isn’t that fascinating isn’t that what cleopas and his friend do fleeing from jerusalem this place where everything happens to emmaus this town that nothing happens they are incredibly joined on this journey the God who does everything in jerusalem has left jerusalem is journeying with them as they go in the wrong direction and they don’t even know it they’re not even aware that he’s there and that my friends is me to a t when I am in that mood I don’t even know he’s there I am oblivious to everything he might be doing and I love the way that Jesus brings them around to his point of view in the story he said to them how foolish you are and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken did not the messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory and beginning with moses and all the prophets he explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning himself as they approached the village to which they were going Jesus continued on as if he were going farther but they urged him strongly stay with us for it is nearly evening the day is almost over so he went in to stay with them and then this is the moment of reveal the moment where the big secret of the story which has been almost a microcosm of everything about Jesus story people have constantly missed who he is constantly been uncertain about what he’s doing and need their eyes opened when he was with them at the table he took bread gave thanks broke it and began to give it to them now a couple of fun little if you’re if you’re like into bible nerding as I unashamedly am there’s a couple of fun little illusions going on here one Jesus has done this before this is a kind of a look back at the the feeding of the five thousand he’s taken bread he shared it with everyone and that’s the moment where his first followers start to say oh he might be something more he might be doing something special we may have found the guy the messiah the person who’s going to change everything so it’s definitely a little throwback to that but then just below then their eyes were opened seems like luke is talking about genesis chapter three and that story adam and eve eat a piece of fruit and it says their eyes were opened and they saw both good and evil or they knew both good and evil in this moment their eyes are opened and they see Jesus and the new story that he has created so a fun couple of little things going on there but really really it seems the center the main illusion that’s been made here is back to a table where Jesus gathered with his earliest followers and broke bread and handed it to each of them now these two probably weren’t there at that moment but a pattern will be for this church in the future will be to consistently gather around a table to take two very common things bread and wine and to hand them around and say somewhere in this moment Jesus is present in a particular way just like he is for them in this moment their eyes were opened and they recognized him he disappeared from their sight in a moment of fleeing the story in a moment of saying we’ve just cut to get out in a moment of self-preservation in a moment of leaving the place that God is working to head to a place where God never works these people experience the God of the universe who it seems chases after them captures them and pulls them back into his story all of this happens around a table just like this for the rest of his book luke will constantly talk about how these earliest followers gathered and broke bread together they gathered and broke bread together they gathered and broke bread together they constantly came back to this table to remember Jesus and to experience his presence and so what we get to do as a community in the midst of stories that some of us would like to run away from it mr stories that this seems a safe space from that we don’t want to go back to we get to come to a table and we get to experience the God of the universe who is present with us in the most likely unlikely of places it doesn’t seem when you read the rest of the bible that God ever spends time in emmaus but he does here just for them so we’re going to come to the table and I’d like you in this space to just bring whatever stories you have good bad broken difficult scary whatever they look like

they return to the story Jesus meets with them at a table and something about that experience gives them the courage to return back to jerusalem now what awaits them in jerusalem is not easy it’s difficult most of Jesus earliest followers were killed for their faith they went and shared it all over the place and most of them died some through the same mechanism that Jesus died they don’t go back to ease they don’t go back to comfort but they do go back knowing his presence were not our hearts burning with us while he talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us they got up and returned at once to jerusalem if the journey to emmaus was strange why would they go why would they just suddenly pick up and leave the journey back to jerusalem is even more unusual it’s now night time nobody’s traveling on roads in this era at this time and yet there they are stumbling through the dark headed back to a story that they now believe in in new ways a story that is still difficult but they now know that Jesus is present with them in when you come to this table when you bring your story the only thing right now that I suggest you need to know is is Jesus present with me in this story don’t need to know whether it’s a story to leave don’t need to know whether it’s a story to run back do you just simply need to say Jesus I need you to be present with me and one of the greatest joys of pastoring a community is this I don’t know every single story in the room how could I but I do know some of them and I do know for some of you you are living in the midst of a story that you say I don’t want this story this doesn’t feel like it should it could be a family thing a work thing a health thing a spiritual thing one of the joys of pastoring a community is not that you have to go through those stories but it’s to see what it is to see a group of people who can stand in the midst of those stories walk towards a table that is 2 000 years old and say God I believe you are present here in a particular way and even though everything inside of me would love to run away from this story I’m gonna be here with you believe you will make yourself present and believe that might give me everything I need to live out this story in the way that you would in this world right now let’s pray

Jesus we don’t pick the stories we live in except we choose your story we choose to believe that when you came died and rose again that that changed everything that this is a story about everything that covers everything when elements of our story get funky when they get out of whack oh definitely there’s times we want to leave definitely there’s times where we want to say I didn’t sign up for this definitely there’s times where we say God would you just fix it

and sometimes incredibly you do sometimes we look at a story and you change it we can look back at times where you have moved and it has everything has looked different because you did something spectacular and then there’s other times where we said no God you haven’t changed the story but seems like you’re changing me in the midst of that story

maybe that’s what it means to pick a backross and follow you to trust that in the midst of those stories you are still present thank you for the way that you walked with these first followers you left the place where everything happened and you walked to a town where nothing happens they took the wrong direction and you were still there present and they didn’t know it God sometimes we just need a moment where we do know it and we know a forgetful people will probably leave and forget some of what we experience but in this moment as we come to your table this 2 000 year old table as we break bread and we drink wine

would you make yourself present to us would you comfort those of us that are afflicted and for those of us that are just a little bit too comfortable would you afflict us and wake us up the things that you’ve done before God would you do again would we see if we pray we would see miracles change that the story would fix would heal but we also realize that a greatest miracle is just to experience you in fresh ways and so for wherever we are in our journey where whether we’ve never stepped into any kind of faith and this isn’t the most attractive sounding faith right now to pick up a cross

God I pray that you would have us give us the courage to do that

on the night that he was betrayed Jesus gathered with his earliest followers he took bread and handed it to each of them said this is my body broken for you and then he took a cup and handed it to each of them said this is my blood shed for the sins of the world whenever you gather together do this in remembrance of me

in the midst of the worst part of his story

Jesus did the same thing that we’re doing right now

I’m going to invite you as aaron plays to come and take the elements back to your seat take some time to contemplate take some time to bring your story to guardian all of the ways that it is broken

and recognize that the need is met through the broken bread take that bread when you are ready and then together we’ll take the cup as a community of people following Jesus together in this space God as we come to this table please let us experience your presence in all the ways we need it your comfort and your goodness


if you would like prayer before you take the elements there’s a group of people here that would love to pray for you if you’d like to wait till after the service you can do that too but perhaps in this space you just need someone who will stand alongside you and look for God’s presence with you

walking around these walls I thought by now they’d fall

but you never failed me waiting for change to come knowing the battles won

but you still stands great is your faithfulness faithfulness

still in your hands this is my confidence never fill



keep me within your sing your praise again

great is your faithfulness faithfulness I’m still in your hands this is my confidence you never fail promise still stands great is your faithfulness faithfulness

this is

you stay true you stay stable

even when the story changes

you stay true you stay stable even when the story changes

so Jesus we as your followers believe that when you died and rose again you changed everything about the way the world works

in this community we have all sorts of individual stories in all sorts of places

as we take the bread and cut together

we remind ourselves that following you includes picking up a cross but not every story will always look as we want it to that some of them will be hard and difficult God would you give us the wisdom to know when to leave a story

and when to stay in the midst of it and allow you to change us in it

but in this moment we also remind ourselves the one day where you promise this is this that you will wipe away every tear that you will bring this great grand story where it needs to go that we can never be the center of it but we can be transformed by it that you are constantly bringing new things out of old things we thank you Jesus for what your body and blood mean

and at this moment if you haven’t taken the bread feel free to take that and together we take this cup and we remember Jesus blood shed for us not the revolution his followers hoped for but definitely the revolution that they needed thank you Jesus for your presence with us at this table we may forget this moment but give us the strength to live out the story you have for each of us and to live into your great story let’s take the cup together friends

let’s sing this last song



I see

I see you do it again thank you Jesus amen I’m going to invite you to grab a seat for just a second we’re going to invite a bunch of people that are disappearing off to guatemala in just a few weeks and we’re just going to talk about that for a little bit and so ethan tell us what’s going on man yeah so is this on oh it is wrong uh in july of this year uh we’re going to guatemala this is the team minus one person she’s sick um but why don’t we start by introducing ourselves real quick I’m kelsey I’m joe I’m zach I’m garrett I’m caleb I’m ashton and I’m brianna and the last person is gianna but she’s sick today uh so kelsey can you tell us what we’re going to be doing in guatemala in july yeah so we are leaving to guatemala july 6th to the 14th and we’re going to be working with an orphanage called eagle’s nest we’re going to be working with the students the kids there just coming alongside them hanging out them playing with them but we’re also going to be blessing the orphanage by doing small tasks like painting really anything around there that we can do to bless them and be the hands and feet of Jesus and joe has been on a trip like this before uh so joe uh on your last trip tell us what you got out of the last trip and then why you want to go on another one yeah so I was on the um the trip to mexico in 2019 with cell students and it was not only meaningful to the people there in mexico and like beneficial to like their community but is also very beneficial to everybody that was on the trip and I feel like we all grew in our faith a lot and we got to see some different cultures and uh yeah it was definitely very cool to be like the working hand and lastly zach has never been on a trip like this so we want to ask him uh why do you want to go on this trip and what do you want to get out of it um since I’ve never been on a trip to another country um I think it’s going to give me an opportunity to like grow my faith and especially implement it and onto the kids at the orphanage and help them learn about God maybe and just grow their faith and also would love to learn about their culture and just how they live their normal lives

awesome so to go on this trip obviously we have to raise a little bit of money our goal is 14 000 so there’s a number of ways you guys can help us out uh the first one is if you go to south’s website today there’s like on the drop down giving menu there’s a special option specifically for the guatemala trip so you can select that and give money specifically to this trip these guys some of them will also be waiting out in the lobby if you want them to come to your house and do yard work or housework or any kind of work they have young strong muscles ready for some manual labor so you can sign up to have them come and they can help you you can help us it all works together so yeah like I said our goal is fourteen thousand dollars if you wanna help us out that’d be awesome to help us go on the trip we also are going to do a couple fundraisers we have a talent show coming up in june which we’ll tell you more about that in the future but just to put these on your radar now uh ways you can help our trip so alex wants to pray for us because he’s a charismatic guy I love it I just felt prayer was fitting in a church so and I’ve been assured they are all good at yard work so some of you who want to know that you know if they take care of your yard and some of you have seen your yards and you need all the help you can get so it doesn’t even matter if they’re good or not but just uh we’re so uh excited to see what you guys uh hear what you guys experience uh thank you for taking this awesome step of faith um and for those of you that uh just yeah would like to pray with me why don’t you stand uh and just we’re gonna raise our hands towards them so

let’s take a moment Jesus thank you for the step of faith that each of these followers of you are taken

God thank you that they’re going not to fix everything but to partner with people that are involved every day in this beautiful country God I pray that you would go before them alongside them and behind them that you provide for all of their needs I pray that they would be involved in wonderful things but most of all I pray that they would come back transformed too transformed by new experiences of you so God we pray that you would bless them keep them safe give them wisdom and use them as you would have them be used amen thank you friends thank you for being on stage twice two services bravo

and for the rest of us uh I pray that you would go with the presence of Jesus into the story that you’re living in may you see the story changed as it needs to be changed and may have the strength to live in it to bear the cross that you called to bear in this season may you know Jesus presence with you in that go in peace amen

Road to Emmaus | Riptide (Part 2)2022-07-14T14:32:38-06:00

The Story of Mary Magdalene | Riptide (Part 1)

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I love it doesn’t it make you just feel upbeat and summery aren’t some of you are ready for some beach time I I love that I think aaron threw in a couple of english speeches there and let me just say this they are not as warm as they may have looked um if if you like tropical climate uh well that’s your choice but I suggest cold bracing winds and just you know that just general feel of just my family go swimming when it’s 50 degrees in the water or outside and my wife sits on the side and stares at us like we’ve lost our minds which we may have done we are in a new series we’re about to begin we call it riptide why did we call it that there is something that has happened something that has taken place Jesus has died and risen again it has changed everything in the world and yet nobody knows about it nobody has yet in this point we’re about to enter the story no one has experienced the change there has been this thing that has changed everything about the way the world functions the grand biblical narrative is this Jesus is the change that the world needs God has risked everything on his son and the transformation that that brings that change has happened and yet all of his earliest followers are still stuck in this place where they’re asking what does this mean most of them at this point don’t even know and we get to enter into these first stories and ask what is happening here for them I think in churches we we do a couple of things sometimes we talk a lot about God’s change for us individually we talk about transformation within us and we forget that actually this story is transforming everything in the world and we have to enter into that intentionally that’s what the first mile initiative is all about and then sometimes as churches I think we get so obsessed with what it is to change the world around us that we forget on the other hand that actually this message is supposed to reach us at our inner most core and I don’t know about you but there are times when that’s harder for me to believe sometimes it’s easy for me to believe that God can change this whole world he can change these grand narratives but sometimes when I get to look in the deep recesses of what’s in there when I get to look at the brokenness in there there’s times where I’m like man I can believe the first one but God do you have something for that do you have an antidote to that can you play with can you transform that this message is is not just about the world changingness of Jesus death and resurrection but it’s also the individual message for each of us and what we get to watch over this next season that leads up to pentecost and if you’ve never been baptized we do baptisms on pentecost it’s a great opportunity to declare your following of Jesus to the world but what you’ll watch over these next few weeks as we look at the post-resurrection experiences of Jesus first followers will get to look at the way they are in all sorts of different places some of them obsessed with their failures wondering if that’s the story that’s going to characterize them forever some of them struggling with doubt can I believe again some of them just giving up on the story and leaving town and we’re going to watch as this incredible and gentle Jesus goes around and he pulls them back into this grand story to give you an image of it this riptide tied image is what it is to stand on the edge of an ocean maybe some of you have had that experience maybe up to your ankles and you can feel the water start to pull you towards this incredible body of water you can feel the pull of that tide and this grand story that Jesus has created longs to pull each and every single one of us into it wherever we are and whatever is going on in our hearts so we’re going to jump in to john chapter 20 for the first week if you have a text you can open it with me we’re going to start on verse 1. by the way if you’re visiting my name’s alex I’m one of the pastors here man I forgot that on easter forgot it today I’m just I’m this talking head hello earlier the first day of the week while it was still dark mary magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance this is a good story she came running to simon peter and the other disciples the one Jesus loved and said they have taken the lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have put him so peter and the other disciples started for the tomb both were running but the other disciple outran peter and reached the tomb first he bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in then simon peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb he saw the strips of linen lying there as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus head the cloth was still lying in its place separate from the linen finally the other disciple who had reached the term for tomb first also went inside he saw and he believed they still did not understand from scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead when the disciples went back to where they were then the disciples went back to where they were staying now mary stood outside the tomb crying as she wept she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white seated where Jesus body had been one at the head and the other at the foot they asked a woman why are you crying they have taken my lord away she said and I do not know where they have put him at this she turned around and saw Jesus standing there but did not realize that it was Jesus he asked a woman why are you crying who is it that you are looking for thinking he was a gardener she said sir if you have carried him away tell me where you have put him and I will get him Jesus said to her mary she turned towards him and cried out in aramaic rabboni which means teacher Jesus said do not hold on to me for I have not yet ascended to the father go instead to my brothers and tell them I am ascending to your father and to my father and your father to my God and your God mary magdalene went to the disciples with the news I have seen the lord and she told them that he had said these things to her Jesus whatever we need from this story wherever we find ourselves we are in the light of your post-resurrection world your story has changed everything it’s changed everything for the world but it’s changed everything for us as people too would you pull us in new ways into that story would you catch hold of us pull us in and that grand tide and transform us we need that deeply amen okay so john 20 chapter john chapter 20 verse 1. early on the first day of the week while it was still dark mary magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance it is resurrection but it is still dark it’s resurrection but it’s still dark this rider john it seems has what you might almost call an obsession with light and dark in first century writing if someone mentions something right at the beginning if they ground everything around that then the message is almost watch out for this in other places if we go back to john chapter one verse one in the beginning was the word the word was with God the word was God the word for those of you clueing into this for the first time is Jesus he was with God in the beginning through him all things were made without him nothing was made that has been made in him was life and what did that life mean what did it look like that life was the light of all mankind the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it right at the beginning when john wants to frame the great story that he’s presenting he frames it around two things light and darkness there is a spiritual thing in john’s mind that is unseen there is the darkness which is negative which is bad and there is light that is destroying that darkness that is bringing about a new story if you like to read the bible if you’re someone that does that regularly here’s a fun challenge for you take the book of john and go through and just circle every time it mentions light and darkness or dark you’ll see just some fascinating ways that this writer continually takes those two ideas and plays them off one against another john it seems has a fascination with light and darkness he talks about that both in the grand scheme of things but also about personal things as well it taps into personal stories so a question for you as we tap into this what does the word darkness mean to you it probably has multiple different connotations right I I had a new definition of darkness recently because my four-year-old has become obsessed well all kids just to give you a heads up if you don’t have kids yet all kids for some reason are obsessed with following parents into the bathroom uh if you thought that this was like the the place of freedom uh that is no longer the case once you have kids and I know some of you again in the not yet kids stages saying it’s just simple just lock the door oh that it were so simple uh these kids have a way of getting around all of these sorts of things and so so regularly you find yourself in a space that you consider the last bastion of freedom like the one thing you could rely on your thinking space whatever you characterize as and suddenly a small child will appear in that space wanting something from you but but my youngest child jude has now taken that a step further what he has joy in now is opening the door turning off the light and then shutting the door and yelling it’s really dark in here now wha whatever you are doing in the bathroom whatever that looks like in that moment that becomes harder when there is no light and I just have had these moments regularly where I’ve sat there and just it’s awfully dark in this space it just feels like my new definition of darkness but on a more serious level darkness is both physical this is great sand dunes down in colorado springs it’s one of the 12 registered dark sky areas in the world it’s a place you can go and when there’s not star light you really feel like you can’t see your hand in front of your face when the stars are out it’s this ability to see these vistas up in the sky it is a place that is just physically dark and maybe for you physical dark is a problem I slept with the light until an embarrassingly old age and then I was delighted because some people came to me after the first service and was like oh no I can beat that and I felt like my age of like 13 still sleeping with the light I was fairly high I just didn’t like physical darkness and I still have these memories of doing an early morning paper route at six o’clock in the morning and feeling terrified to walk down certain roads because I just didn’t know what was there we have this instinctive feel about dark versus light on a physical level but we also use the term darkness on a more metaphorical level right regularly we go to these sort of descriptions I just threw in from the beautiful movie encanto there is the famous character bruno who’s captured everyone’s imagination because of the song about his name and bruno can predict the future and so one of the songs says this a seven foot frame rats along his back when he calls your name it all fades to black it all fades black bruno predicts the future and the future is usually negative and it usually comes true and it is maybe a metaphor for what it is for us to at times in our lives say how did I end up in this place that wasn’t what I expected we talk about darkness as physicality but we also talk about darkness as metaphorical we might use language like I’m in a very dark place right now this is a dark time for me we use that language and it could be any one of these things I would guess it could be physical after the easter services I was emotionally tired and then I decided to spend the whole of monday on a day off just moving soil around the english term is barrowing um and I tried using that in the office and everyone’s like that’s not a word I’m like no no it really is we got into legitimate arguments about that especially as I am from a country that invented a language I felt like I should be able to just speak authoritatively into that situation they wouldn’t have it they were like no it’s not a word stop making stuff up the next morning I woke up with deep aches and pains all over me something that is fairly new to me at the age I am and a friend said you know the time to worry is when you have those same aches when you didn’t barrow soil up and down the road all day he said it’s coming for you don’t worry it’s just a matter of time maybe you are in a place where there is something physical that is off maybe you’re walking through a journey with sickness maybe you’re starting to experience some deterioration of the body and you say physically this feels like this is a darker place relationally we get into points in our life where we say how did this relationship move from here to here it all seemed to start in the light it all seemed to start so positive and now we’re in this space you don’t need to assign blame we don’t need to know other reasons but you might say no it’s just it’s just not right what what how I don’t have good explanations or answers for this it’s emotional we just spent six weeks tapping through a series on emotions it’s financial it’s it’s that moment where that I had recently where I went to do my taxes and my wonderful accountant who was sat in the first service and I didn’t mention because I didn’t want him to feel that he ruined my easter week but I sat with him and he said you still owe nine thousand dollars on your tax bill it’s like that wow that got dark really quick that’s not what I wanted to hear and I’m looking at him like it’s his fault what have you done to me john come on couldn’t you have paid my taxes for me it’s spiritual it’s that moment of ending up in a place where like it feels like God is distant it feels like he’s not speaking it feels like there’s a glass ceiling and I find myself yelling at that ceiling asking him to interact darkness has that physicality but it also has that metaphorical nature and so when we read early on the first day of the week while it was still dark from an author we know has borderline obsession with light and dark it might mean something the reason I would suggest it does mean something is because it’s different from what every single one of the other authors about Jesus life say there are for the four biographies of Jesus life for those of you new to this kind of thing and so matthew mark and luke all say something different something that isn’t about darkness matthew in chapter 28 says after the sabbath at dawn on the first day of the week matthew is interested in the fact that it’s now light when the sabbath was over mark says mary magdalene mary the mother of james and salone brought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus body very early on the first day of the week just after sunrise and then luke on the first day of the week very early in the morning for matthew mark luke it is light it is morning for john for john it’s dark another difference as well another distinction between the two when we read in matthew we’re told that mary magdalene and the other mary come to the tomb in mark we’re told mary magdalene mary the mother of james and salome brought spices so that they may go to anoint Jesus body and in luke the women a plural term took the spices there’s these slight differences now if you’re into like forensic examination of things that may cause you some tension as a first century person you may say wait these are inconsistencies these are things that are off like how can this story be true the truth is in the 21st century we have an obsession with details so if we were to do an investigation of something we would say did it happen at 3 15 or did it happen at 3 16 was the person wearing red pants or were they wearing maroon pants we go into details that a first century rider just wouldn’t have conceived as important these are writers that are building on oral traditions some of them yes we’re around at the time but for the most part they’re taking oral stories and pulling them together and so their primary concept is what is this story teaching us doesn’t mean it didn’t happen doesn’t mean it’s not true in actual fact what’s incredible about these resurrection stories of Jesus life is how similar they are they agree on these big details there was a stone that had been rolled away a group that contained mostly women went to the tomb for that first moment and experienced Jesus as resurrected there’s consistencies that point towards its truthfulness but if you go to it looking for tiny details and looking for anything that seems like an inconsistency well then you’re really not reading first century literature the way that it’s meant to be read john takes this story and says in my story it’s dark and in my story mary is alone in my story it’s dark and in my story mary is alone why would it be dark and why would she be alone and so let’s have a look back at just some of this story mary magdalene went to the tomb and she saw the stone that had been removed from the entrance we need some details on who this woman is and what we can tell about her story to learn what this story means or will mean for her mary’s first appearance is in luke chapter eight after this Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God the twelve of the followers of Jesus were with him and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases mary called magdalene from whom seven demons had come out joanna the wife of chooser the manager of herod’s household susanna and many others these women were helping to support them out of their own means a few things we know from this story mary is from a town called magdala which was just on the sea of galilee the famous sea that Jesus did much of his ministry around it’s interesting that it points that out because usually in the first century a woman would be identified by who she was married to mary has no such information about her we simply know that she’s from a certain town and based on the bottom part the last verse that she’s probably got some means of our own and these women are supporting Jesus earliest male followers they are bringing finances and helping the whole ministry happen and then finally seven demons had come out whatever your theology is whatever you might call demonology is whether you think that the bible when it talks about these things are talking about spiritual realities or whether it’s using old language for mental illness I don’t really want to argue that point particularly right now whatever it is at this point in her life she is in a decidedly low place to pick up on our term darkness she is possibly in the darkest place to be described as seven demons coming out of her there is language here that in first century spiritual terms says matt mary is broken mary is in a bad place mary is not in a place of health life is not in the place that she would want it to be and somewhere this story has changed this story is also fascinating because of its reference to women Jesus in many ways was a classic first century rabbi he gathered a bunch of male followers and began to teach them they got to copy him Jesus unusually though is reflected as having this group of women that have gathered around him and even broader than just women Jesus you might suggest has what writers would call a preferential option for the poor Jesus pulls in everyone from this group that first century writers would have termed poor women incredibly to us in the 21st century were included in that group but those on the fringes tax collectors people that were called sinners people that modern societal that society just didn’t find acceptable Jesus finds acceptable Jesus spends time with Jesus pulls them into his story and as we’re about to read incredibly chooses them as the first people to show himself to after resurrection the bible wrestles at different points I would suggest with its view of women the writer inc enrique nardoni says this the bible as a whole supports the bible as a whole and it’s cultural context support a preferential option for the poor but the old testament in the language of phyllis tribble is quite often full of tales of terror with women as victims Jesus seems to be intentionally going about subverting that older narrative in Jesus ministry incredibly women are included for the first century mind blowing to us just seems like what we would expect Jesus pulls people in from all sorts of background and for mary this person who would be considered on the fringe the margins of society this person who was said to be demon possessed Jesus brings light from darkness Jesus takes a woman who is at her lowest point and brings light to her story ad whatever language he used when this happened I would love to believe it looked something like this in john chapter 8 another place where this writer focuses on light versus darkness I am the light of the world whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life we looked at john chapter one which characterizes this big spatial battle as darkness versus light and in john chapter eight this writer says it’s not just big and spatial it’s you as well it’s on the ground level it’s individual people God brings light out of darkness through the work of his son and somewhere mary’s narrative has changed dramatically she has gone from the darkest point to a point where she now stands in the light that change is dramatic and incredible early on the first day of the week while it was still dark mary magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance a lot of writers suggest that this language of darkness here at this point reflects where mary is now in a spiritual place having moved from darkness to light Jesus is now dead and what does that mean for her story what does it mean when the person who brought light to your situation is no longer present if Jesus for Jesus presence brought light from darkness well Jesus absence instigates a movement from light to darkness when he is not there everything is different what does his story look like now what is the result can this still be light when there is no Jesus what happens if she finds herself in a place of darkness again what happens when Jesus is no longer there to be what she needs him to be mary’s story is brought into trauma because Jesus is now absent from it on a personal level maybe you’ve experienced something like this maybe you’ve been through a period of life that you would describe as dark as troubled as difficult and you’ve walked into a relationship you’ve encountered someone a friend a romantic relationship perhaps you got married and it feels like that fixed the story you feel like you encountered someone maybe you came to rely on that story too much but there is the question what happens when that story is different what happens when that person is gone in sort of the language of literature it is the language of romeo and juliet but soft what light through yonder window breaks it is the east and juliet is the sun it reflects what it is to have a moment where you’re like wow everything’s wonderful now it felt dark and now I stand in the light but if that person’s gone does the situation change does everything end in that what happens when the person you rely on isn’t there it’s true of us on a romantic level on a friendship level on a parenting level all of those different things but but it’s true of mary on a deeper level what happens when Jesus is no longer there what happens when he’s no longer present what happens when Jesus has taught you so many wonderful things his teaching is beyond anything you’ve ever heard and you have all these principles but he’s no longer alive the writer peter rollins imagines what it is for some early followers of Jesus to leave before news of resurrection got out to go and take the teachings of Jesus and live far away and take these principles and just live them out and and finally some followers of Jesus who did stay for the resurrection make it out to them and in this wonderful moment they reveal to them no he’s not dead he’s actually alive and celebration breaks out does the teaching of Jesus matter without resurrection does all of the three years mary has spent with him do they matter without resurrection if Jesus is dead what is her story now early on the first day of the week while it was still dark mary magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance the fact that she is the first one there suggests that she takes a special place in in terms of or sees her relationship as being in a special place in the jewish tradition of grief people would sit for many days and grieve but the earliest for the closest people the closest family members would be enabled to go to the tomb and mourn there mary gets up first she’s the first one there it suggests something about how she sees and how she values Jesus and then she’s left in this moment of uncertainty what does this story mean the stone has been rolled away and so she came running to simon peter and the other disciple the one Jesus loved and said they have taken the lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him I love this story I almost feel like a different points this story gets a little bit comic as we read peter and john’s interaction this phrase the the other disciple the one Jesus loved is generally understood to be a reference to the person that wrote the book it is john talking about john and and firstly it’s a little bit of a flex for the guy that’s writing the book to be like oh the one that Jesus loved I was his favorite just recognized that for a moment but it gets almost it gets even worse if I was writing spiritual literature this is not how I would write it because this story is almost like just adolescent fun next verse verse three to four so peter and the other disciples started for the tomb remember the other disciple is the guy writing started for the tomb both were running but the other disciple outran peter and reached the tomb first it’s like this moment where john’s like in case you heard anything different I was faster than this guy he was super slow and I ran and I beat him and just remember that for just a second like who puts this in like the bible it’s incredible but the other disciple outran peter and reached the tomb first if nothing else I was the faster of the two and maybe he needs to write that because he bent over and looked in the strips of linen lying there but he did not go in like 13 year old alex it seems like john is scared of the dark as well he stays outside then simon peter and if you know anything about peter this makes sense came along behind him and went straight into the tomb peter doesn’t think before he speaks he doesn’t think before he acts he’s just there and off he goes straight in there’s this comic interplay between the two he saw the strips of linen line there as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus head the cloth was still lying in its place separate from the linen finally the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went inside he saw and believed so finally I went in took me a while had to get my courage up uh he saw and believed they did they still did not understand from scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead again it’s john writing back and saying I didn’t get this for a long time three years he talked about death and resurrection and finally I’m starting to catch up in this moment and then the disciples went back to where they were staying everything that you’ve just read fits a narrative we would expect the men are doing things and the women are in the background silent until this moment this moment where we read and then the men went home they went back to the place that they were staying this is a completely understandable narrative this is like ground zero Jesus has been public enemy number one for a while nobody wants to be in this space the jewish leaders had put guards on the tomb there was all of these different political implications to things that Jesus had said nobody wants to be here right now nobody ex it seems except mary who potentially has nowhere else to go for these men in the story there’s options they can go back to a trade they can find another rabbi but what about mary where does she go what does her story look like her story has fundamentally changed around her encounter with Jesus and his ministry in the world she has no other story to chase into no other narrative to hope for and so what we read is that now mary stood outside the tomb crying when these guys leave mary pauses and it seems according to these writers the fact that she’s the first person to experience the risen Jesus is just simply based on chance simply based on the fact that she lingers and they don’t she waits and they don’t she holds in this moment with all of her brokenness all of her darkness all of the fear of what does the story mean she’s simply in this moment where it seems like Jesus is defeated and dead she stays maybe just because she has nowhere else to go but in this moment she does stay and the story continues they asked a woman why are you crying they have taken my lord away she said and I do not know where they have put him we see no hint of resurrection in her mind there is no lurking suspicion that the rolled away stone may be a good part of the narrative all we see is the hopelessness of they’ve even taken the body away I don’t even have that to cling to anymore if anything the story has become even darker even more hopeless in these moments this she turned around and saw Jesus standing there but she did not realize that it was Jesus there’s a whole bunch of stuff we could talk about there about why Jesus in his post-resurrection form doesn’t always look like Jesus it’s a mystery we just have to sit in for the most part and even when he speaks to her she doesn’t know that it’s him he asked a woman why are you crying who is it that you are looking for she verse 6 15 thinking he was the gardener she said sir if you have carried him away last easter we talked about this fascinating interplay here between graves and gardens the first human adam takes a garden that he lives in and through his act of disobedience turns that garden essentially into a grave into a cemetery and Jesus in this incredible flip of the script is in a grave which he will then turn into a garden there is a reversal of death story going on here sir if you have carried him away tell me where have you put him and I will get him Jesus said to her mary there is something about the way that he says her name that seems to be this moment of res revelation and for a writer that loves to tap back to his old stories and think about ways that those implicate the story he’s telling now I’m fascinated by just why it is that it’s her name that just brings all of this to the surface in john chapter 10 verse 27 we’re told by Jesus my sheep listen to my voice I know them and they follow me the land word there listen is sometimes hear something about the way that a voice sounds to mary is what tweaks it to the fact that this is Jesus a eastern shepherd wouldn’t drive his sheep like a western shepherd would they would name them name them based on their idiosyncrasies name them based on just the little quirks of their nature and that’s why you see Jesus give simon the name peter it’s some rock-like tendency that he notices about peter that gives him that nickname mary somewhere hears Jesus call her voice and it’s this moment this moment that will turn the darkness of the early morning into the light of sunrise this moment that will be transformative for her she turned towards him and cried out in aramaic robonai there is this interchange that moves mary who has been in darkness who has been brought into light through her encounter with Jesus and then risks returning back into darkness it’s this moment that brings light the light of this gospel story to her that reveals to her this Jesus as his risen self Jesus said do not hold on to me for I have not yet ascended to the father go instead to my brothers and tell them I am ascending to my father and your father to my God and your God that’s like a whole sermon like I’m like there’s a whole geography apparently to resurrection that we need to know somewhere there’s an ascension and then another ascension and there’s all this different interplay what I would say in just in this moment is the one word that stands out there is this word go Jesus encounters mary she encounters him as risen and she’s the first one that he says go take this story to if you were writing a made-up story if you were inventing this this would be a horrible way for getting the story traction if you were thinking through ways that you would get people to pay attention to it there are plenty of followers of Jesus that you could pick pick nicodemus as the first person that experienced Jesus has risen he was important he was a member of the pharisees pick uh joseph of arimathea a member of a important council have them share the story pick anyone who’s male but in this moment to send mary as the first representative of resurrection if you were making the story up in a first century context this was a recipe for making sure nobody believed your story ever it was just destroying it on the ground level one of the fascinating things to me of resurrection is the fact that Jesus says the story is true and I’m gonna share it with whoever I want to share it and the whole story is based on a group of women who would not be considered reliable witnesses in a first century context if you were making the story up it just doesn’t make sense for some reason it starts with mary as this first person who is sent to go mary magdalene went to the disciples with the news I have seen the lord and she told them that he had said these things to us think about our story that we participate in this Jesus story for those of you who call yourselves followers of Jesus we sang about it earlier this flame that is lit that covers the entire world that is constantly expanding and constantly going it is a bunch of little flames that are using language somewhat like that we go to the world and say I have seen Jesus I have experienced him as risen his death his resurrection they mean something and they are transformative the first person to go and do that this is the moment you are seeing the first messenger of this gospel the eastern church came to know mary magdalene as issa apostle equal with the apostles because she was the first to go and share this news I love that I love that for this simple reason at her lowest point at her darkest point she encounters Jesus this message that we’re told that is transformative for the whole world has transformed someone in this moment and she’s the one that gets sent it gives me hope in my moments where I examine the inner workings of my own heart and say man can I do that and I get this response of yes because I took someone who was at the lowest who wasn’t considered able to be a witness who from whom I took seven demons someone who was at their most broken and I brought transformation to her life if I brought transformation to her I can also bring transformation to you and if I can then say to her no you go then when I say to you to go you also can go there is something about mary’s point of beginning at that lowest point that just fits with Jesus and his incredible way of doing ministry in ways that sometimes just they just don’t make sense john characterizes the entirety of Jesus work around bringing light from darkness the light has shine and the darkness cannot overcome it his death and resurrection change everything for this world but they change everything for you and I as well for mary in this moment of standing by a tomb of the one that has brought light to her she is left in this potential trauma of what does that mean now what happens if I end up in darkness again what happens if there is now know Jesus to bring me out of that darkness Jesus resurrection means incredibly that he is constantly present in that Jesus resurrection does not guarantee continual ease assurance of constant felicity or even perfect transformation in this present moment it does guarantee the perpetual presence of one able to repeatedly bring us from darkness into light and who is able to partner with us to see transformation in a continual present tense this story is centered around transformation for this whole world and for you and I this story is centered around light from darkness for this whole world and for you and I and in those moments that mary is first sent I would love to imagine Jesus celebrating that moment of her going and sharing this good news around this verse in first peter you are a chosen people a royal priesthood a holy nation God’s special possession that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light wherever you sit in your journey right now it seems like Jesus longs to bring you out of darkness into his wonderful light that’s true when you sit in darkness for the first time and the second time and the third time and the fourth time when it feels like your story has got dark beyond belief when it feels like the story has slipped out from under your feet suddenly when it feels like it’s a gradual descent into a story that just doesn’t make sense anymore when you’re standing there asking questions how did it end up like this it seems the promise of resurrection is that this Jesus constantly enters our stories in our darkest places and says I continue to bring light some questions for you to reflect on how have you experienced darkness where have been those moments in your journey where you get to now look back and see the ways that this wonderful Jesus has stepped into your journey where do you experience darkness today perhaps you’d say I’ve never experienced Jesus do that and we’ve got people that would love to have a conversation with you about just what following Jesus looks like where do you need to hear Jesus speak where is it that you in this moment sit almost as it were beside a tomb and you need to hear your name spoken by this Jesus who loves you what might he ask you to do where might he send you as he brings you from darkness into wonderful light

Jesus thank you for the ways that this story is character captured by images of darkness and light

for so many of our community we might say I’ve been in a dark place and I’ve experienced you and your goodness and we are thankful thankful for you who rescues broken things and brings light to dark places

for some of us we might say this current place has become surprisingly dark and I’m not sure how to navigate it Jesus we need to know that you are risen and alongside us continually bringing light into the darkness

for us as we worship maybe we need to just hear you whisper annie help us to provide just to give the space for that to happen to do what mary did which is to linger even in this place that feels like a graveyard feels like a tomb feels full of darkness we linger and we wait and we don’t know what we’re waiting for but maybe in that moment we hear you speak and that might change everything for us

thank you that this good gospel story is big big enough to transform the world but but also it transforms us in whatever ways we need transformation

God I pray that we would experience you and the transformation we need thank you that you bring us like springtime from winter into new stories in times where we sat through the darkness of winter we await the arrival of the sun and the arrival of the warmth that it brings and are surprised by the new stories that emerge unexpectedly

we thank you for your goodness and wait to see it again in new ways amen

The Story of Mary Magdalene | Riptide (Part 1)2022-07-14T14:30:48-06:00
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