The Journey: Crowd Sourcing

February 18, 2018
John 11:1-44
Lindsay Small

I’d like you to think for a moment of the largest crowd you’ve ever been in…

-Perhaps you were in Times Square on New Year’s Eve…

-or the Cubs World Series Rally in downtown Chicago…

-or maybe the Tigers Rally…or the Lions…(oh…wait…)

-or maybe it was a concert…the Rolling Stones, U2…

-or that Amy Grant concert you went to with your mom in 6th grade…(Just me?)

Go ahead and think of it for a moment…you can even whisper it to the person next to you if they look friendly.

Crowds have a way of taking on a life of their own…how else do you explain the wave?

They can be earnest, lighthearted…they can be passionate…and they can be angry.

Crowds can bring out the best and the worst in us.

At the basketball game on Friday night, I watched a husband get reprimanded by his wife for yelling at the ref.

I’ve seen high school productions get standing ovations from a crowd swelling with pride.

There is such a thing as crowd mentality…better known as mob mentality. It is easy to go as the crowd goes…and do as the crowd does…

Researchers at Leeds University performed experiments where volunteers were told to randomly walk around a large room without talking to each other. A select few were then given more detailed instructions on where to walk. They discovered that people end up blindly following one or two instructed people who appear to know where they’re going…and they do this without even realizing it.

 It is easy to follow the crowd…to go where the group is going…

Of all the characters in the Bible…Moses, Miriam, Jesus, Paul….there is a prominent character that is rarely talked about.

And that character is the crowd.

The crowd is especially prominent in the gospels…in almost every passage… trying to figure out who Jesus really is…

Today is the first Sunday in the season of Lent…a six week journey to Easter. And our theme this year…from the crowds to the cross…

We will journey to the cross with Christ…and place ourselves in the midst of crowd that was with him almost every step of the way…imagining what it must have been like to be there…

Along the journey, the crowd will show all its colors…wonder, confusion, sorrow, and anger…the crowd will grow smaller and smaller…from the mob that shouts ‘Crucify Him!’ to the scattered and scared disciples huddled behind closed doors…

We begin today with a crowd…a crowd of mourners that have made their way from Jerusalem to Bethany to console Mary and Martha on the death of their brother Lazarus…

So listen now as I read from John chapter 11, and imagine that you are standing in the midst of the crowd. Listen especially for what they are SEEING AND HEARING…

32  When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth.

Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

This might not have been the biggest crowd that this group had ever been in… but I would imagine it was certainly the most memorable.

They had been in mourning crowds before…there was a way things were done. Someone died…a crowd gathered to mourn…the dead was buried…they went home…end of story.

But when this Jesus person comes around…well we know that endings are never that normal.

The first thing the crowd does it takes in what it sees….

-Two sisters mourning…

-A tomb that holds their brother Lazarus, dead now for four days…

-And the arrival of Jesus…

-And Jesus…is weeping.

 Jesus has joined the crowd in their mutual mourning for Lazarus…deeply moved by what he sees.

Jesus wept.

 This verse is often relegated to a Trivial Pursuit answer…but this smallest of verses shows a greatness of compassion and love. Jesus weeps for both the grief and loss of Mary and Martha but also for the whole crowd.

Jesus is connected to the crowd..to Mary and Martha…and to his friend who is died. He is personal, compassionate, loving, kind. He doesn’t look away from pain and hurt…he takes it on himself.

I love that Jesus is not afraid to weep in the midst of a crowd. He doesn’t put on a tough face…doesn’t put on an act…he weeps with the crowd. He mourns as they mourn.

Standing in that crowd…we see a man who joins in our sorrow.

But in addition to what the crowd sees…they hear something as well…

They hear Jesus tell Lazarus to come out of the tomb…

At first our ears don’t really register what we’re hearing…did he just tell Lazarus to come out of the tomb?

This would be a simple instruction were it not for the fact that Jesus shouts it to a dead man.

It had, after all, been four days…and as verse 39 says in the King James Version, “He stinketh.”

Not only that, Jews believed that the spirit left the body after three days, and here it is the fourth…

What is he doing?

 Lazarus is dead. But Jesus calls him to come…and the force of these words breathes new life into his friend.

In the midst of the mourning, in the midst of the crowd, Jesus calls life out of death.

—-

And there he is…Lazarus…coming towards the crowd. And Jesus says, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

The crowds collective mouths hung collectively open.

A dead man has been raised before their very eyes…and ears. They saw. They heard.

And many believed…Many…but not all… If you read just a few more verses…

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done.

The raising of Lazarus would lead many to believe, but for some, it was just too good to believe.

Hold for a moment that it is the raising of one life that leads to the death of another.

Consider that by calling Lazarus out of a tomb it means that Jesus must enter one.

 Only in this act can he be the Resurrection and the Life.

 But we know that his death will lead to life…first his own, and then ours.

Yes, there were those who simply couldn’t understand what they had seen and heard.

But there were also those in the crowds who saw, who heard…and who believed…

They believed that Jesus was the resurrection and the life. They believed that though they would die…they ultimately would live.

This is the Good News.

 And I was looking for good news this week.

The things that we saw and heard in Florida were a bit too awful to comprehend.

We saw the all-too-familiar arial view of students leaving a high school in total fear.

We heard reports of a young man so disturbed that he had a fascination with guns and death.

We heard stories of teachers, coaches, and students who saved lives by risking and in some cases losing their own.

It is a grim reminder of the side of the tomb we live on…

There is evil and pain in the world…and Jesus weeps. He does not look away.

He does not retreat.

He stands in the midst of the pain…and weeps. There is evil and pain in the world…and Jesus calls.

Calls us out of our fear. Out of our comfort.

Out of the crowd.

Like that crowd at Bethany that day…Jesus joins us here today at the table. Perhaps he’s asking you to consider what makes your heart weep?

And perhaps he’s calling you to do something about it…

Its easy to follow the crowd……to blend in. To stay hidden. To go blissfully unnoticed…and then go home…

But friends, this is a time when our convictions must be stronger than the crowd.

 Besides, following the cross is so much better than following the crowd…

 Because in the end, it is the cross that leads to the Resurrection and the Life

Renee Krueger
The Journey: I Love to Tell the Story

February 11, 2018
2 Peter 1:12-2:3
Rev. Stan Mast

One of my favorite parts of being a grandpa is telling stories to my grandchildren. They are all getting too big for this now, but I have fond memories of sitting on the couch with grandkids tucked under each arm, snuggled into me, as I tell them stories about my life or their lives or make up silly stories or read them stories like The Pokey Little Puppy or Good Night Gorilla or Green Eggs and Ham. It doesn’t get any better than that.

That’s what Peter is doing in our text with his spiritual grandchildren. He’s getting old, nearing death, about to fold up his tent, as he puts it. And as old men will do, he looks back at the beginning of Christianity and ahead to a day when it will be in much trouble. So, he gathers his loved ones around him to remind them of the truth of the Christian faith. And he does that by telling them a story. You noticed, I’m sure that our reading begins and ends with that word “story.”

The story Peter tells is not about himself or about his children. He doesn’t tell them silly stories or stories every child knows. No, he tells the story of Jesus and his love. Peter is afraid that the story will be forgotten or distorted or misapplied, so he’s going to tell it one more time. He admits that he has told it many times before; old men tend to repeat their favorite stories. But it’s is absolutely important that we remember this story because, as he says in verse 3, in knowing it you have everything you need for life and godliness. This story can change your life. It is the most important story ever told.

That’s quite a claim, given how many stories there are in the world. Stories are so important to human existence, because we can’t make sense of our lives without them. Shakespeare once wrote that “Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Sometimes it feels like that, but we can’t live with a life that means nothing, so we tell stories to connect the dots and fill in the gaps. We see a man standing on the corner with a sign asking for money, and we tell ourselves a story about that man. He is a drug addict who is trying feed his habit; or he is a lazy person who doesn’t want to work; or he is a veteran who is suffering from PTSD; or he is a good family man going through a hard time. We always tell ourselves stories to explain events.

And we tell ourselves stories of our own lives. Each of us has his own life story, and it governs how we think about ourselves, how we act, how we relate to others. I’m a little Dutch boy born in South Dakota, raised in Denver, graduated from Denver Christian and Calvin College where I met the love of my life who gave me two fine sons and I became a minister, etc. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

In addition to our own little stories, we have these grand cultural stories, meta narratives that shape our whole society and give us a group identity. There’s the American story, or the Canadian story, or the story of our immigrant forebears. All of these stories are important, and many of them are helpful and good and even true.

But there are also stories that are insidious. They have the ring of truth in them and they seem helpful, but they are deeply false and ultimately harmful. Peter in 2:3 talks about stories that have been made up to exploit people. The Greek there is plastois logois, plastic stories, stories that are manufactured, fabricated, molded to reshape reality, and thus finally false. These plastic stories exploit people and take away their money or their dignity or their freedom or their lives.

A recent issue of the Wall Street Journal reminded me of one such story that dominated the 20th Century. The Journal had a major piece on the Hundredth Anniversary of the Communist Revolution in Russia. “Communism entered history as a ferocious yet idealistic condemnation of capitalism, promising a better world. Its adherents blamed capitalism for the miserable conditions that afflicted peasants and workers alike and for the prevalence of indentured and child labor. Communists saw the slaughter of WWI as the direct result of the rapacious competition among the great powers for overseas markets.”

So, the communists told a new story about class strife and economic equality and a workers’ paradise. But, writes the Journal, “a century of communism in power has made clear the human cost of a political program bent on overthrowing capitalism. The effort to eliminate markets and private property has brought about the death of 65 million people and has left country after country in economic ruin.”

There are other plastic stories out there. There is the sports story, not the story about how much fun and healthy sports can be, but the story that sports are the be all and end all of life, the story believed by young athletes who give their lives to sports success. And there’s the consumerist story, which claims that getting and spending and having is the meaning of life. And there are the plastic stories of the great world religions. And the anti-religious story of postmodern relativism, which tells us that there is no meaning to life, that we are all little specks of dust floating in an accidental universe, so we have to make our own meaning.

That’s the kind of thing Peter was talking about when he coined the term, “plastic stories.” All of them are partially true, alluring in their promise of happiness, and finally destructive of human life. And here’s why. In 2:1 Peter says that they are destructive because they deny the sovereign Lord who bought us. Many personal stories and all of these great cultural stories deny the centrality of Jesus, the Sovereign Lord of the Universe who bought us by his blood so that we belong to him body and soul, in life and in death.

That’s why old grandpa Peter is so determined to tell the story of Jesus. Rather than being a plastic story fabricated to reshape reality, it is the historic story that is rooted in reality. It is a story that is filled with integrity, true through and through. Here Peter focuses on one shining moment in that story, the event we know as the Transfiguration of Jesus. After walking with Jesus for almost three years, getting a full view of his genuine humanity and occasionally glimpsing his glory, Peter, James and John go up on a mountain with Jesus for a stunning Epiphany.

Imagine the scene. Jesus leads the disciples up this mountain, single file trudging up the steep. When they arrive, they are so tired that they begin to drift off to sleep. But they are roused by a spectacle that was burned into their memory. Something happened to Jesus; the Gospels used the word “transfigured” to describe it. The very human Jesus whom they knew so well was, well, changed in a spectacular way. His face shines like the sun. His clothes gleam with a blinding light like a bolt of lightning. Moses and Elijah, the classic representatives of God’s entire Old Testament revelation, are talking with Jesus. For one bright and shining moment Jesus humanity was overwhelmed by his divinity and his disciples see his divine glory.

It was, says Peter, a majestic sight. And, most important, God told a very short story that explained what they were looking at. As Peter puts it, the Majestic Glory spoke, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” The three disciples were so overcome by that thunderous message that they fell to the ground. With typically impetuous zeal, Peter gushed that they should build shelters there to memorialize the experience, to put lightning in a bottle, to capture that moment of overwhelming glory. But, no, there would be no shrines, only the story.

That story summarizes the story of Jesus and his love. It gave his disciples a glimpse of the glory hidden in his humility. It proved his divinity in humanity. It anticipated his Second Coming when the whole world will bow before the glory of the Sovereign Lord. Luke’s gospel tells us that Jesus was talking with Moses and Elijah about his coming death in Jerusalem. And Mark adds that as they were coming back down from that sacred mountain, Jesus told them not to tell the story until after his resurrection. It’s all there, his humanity and divinity, his death and resurrection, his ascension and return-- the whole blessed story that gives us everything we need for life and godliness.

That’s quite a story, isn’t it? Almost too good to be true. Maybe fabricated, a plastic story, a cleverly invented story. That’s how early critics of Christianity reacted to it, and incredibly that’s how some of today’s liberal Christians read it. But Peter insists that this is simply what happened. We saw it, he says. We three, we were there, and we saw it with our own 6 eyes. And we heard that voice. How could we ever forget it? It will cost me my life, but I will tell that old, old story as long as I have breath. This is not a cleverly invented, plastic story designed to exploit people for our benefit. This is what actually happened, and it can change your life.

You can be sure of that, says Peter in verse 19, because in this story of Jesus “we have the word of the prophets made more certain.” What does that mean? Well, consider that there are about 60 major prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament. Several years ago, a mathematician calculated the chance of even 8 of those prophecies coming true in one person; it was 1 in 10 to the 17th power, that’s one with 17 zeroes behind it, 1 in 100 trillion. Imagine that we take 100 trillion silver dollars and scatter them over the face of Texas. Texas would be covered 2 feet deep. Now take one dollar, mark it, and drop it somewhere deep in the heart of Texas. Your chances of finding that dollar would be 1 in 100 trillion, the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing just 8 prophecies and having them all come true in one man, if they wrote in their own wisdom. But they didn’t; they wrote inspired by the Holy Spirit.

That man, fulfilling all 60 prophecies, made the words of the prophets more certain. Because of this story, witnessed by Peter and his friends, and that back story, told ahead of time and fulfilled in one Man, we can be sure that we have seen the Light. So, says Peter in verse 19, “you will do well to pay attention to that light, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

We live in a dark place, don’t we? And there are so many stories designed to light a candle in the darkness, to give direction and purpose and meaning to our lives. But that’s the point. Those plastic stories are designed, carefully, cleverly fabricated to reshape reality. Here is the one story that is rooted in Ultimate Reality, the story of God become human, glory hidden in a body, until that day on the mountain when there was this Epiphany and we saw the Light of the world.

So, what’s your story? What is the dominant story of your life, the story that gives your life meaning and shape, that motivates you and sustains you, that gives your direction and hope, that saves you. If it’s not this story, let me tell you how Jesus’ story changed my story, and can change yours. I am not just a bit of cosmic dust who just happened to be born to Dutch American parents; I am a born-again child of the Eternal Father who sent his only begotten Son to become a piece of cosmic dust for me and my salvation. I am not only a miserable sinner deserving of God punishment; I am a forgiven saint because Jesus took my punishment in his suffering and death. I am not merely a citizen of a great flawed country divided by partisan strife; I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God that unites all people under one Head, Jesus Christ. I am not a fearful victim of natural and human forces that can ruin my life; I am the victorious servant of the Sovereign Lord who bought me with his blood and protects me by his power. I am not a mere mortal who will get sick and die and cease to exist; I am an heir to the promises of eternal life, the resurrection of the dead, and a restored world. And until that time, I am not lost in space, wandering with no sense of direction and purpose; I am a disciple of the great Teacher who revealed the truth to Moses and Elijah and Peter and me. In short, my story is not “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short,” as Thomas Hobbes said. It is a story filled with glory, not because of anything I have done, but because of the work of Jesus, whose glory was revealed on that mountain, and on the cross, and in the empty tomb, and will one day be seen by the whole world.

I’m an old preacher like Peter, but I’m sticking with the song I learned as a kid. “I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love. I love to tell the story because I know ‘tis true; it satisfies my longing as nothing else can do. I love to tell the story; ‘twill be my theme in glory to tell the old old story of Jesus and his love.”

It will be my theme in glory and it is my theme here in the darkness. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Renee Krueger
The Journey: Bedtime Stories

January 28, 2018
John 3:1-21
Lindsay Small

When I was in 8th grade, our art class got in trouble.
I don’t remember why. I just remember that our art teacher, Mrs. Paganelli, was really mad. I mean, really mad.
And so she made us write the word “art” the entire class period. It wasn’t for a purpose. We didn’t collage it or mod podge it on canvas when we were done. We just had to write ‘Art’ for 50 minutes straight. So that’s what we did…of course, a few of my classmates thought it was hilarious to add an ‘f’ to the beginning of the word…
Now up to that point, I hadn’t thought that “art” was that strange of a word.
But after writing it about 40 times, I started to think it was one of the silliest looking words in the world.
When something is familiar to us…it doesn’t often get noticed.
But when we take a concentrated look…a repetitive look…we notice things we had not noticed before.
Our text for today includes quite arguably the most familiar Bible verse in history.
It’s been tattooed on arms, held up at all manner of sporting events, posted on billboards, adorns on jewelry…it has become a part of our vocabulary.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not die but have eternal life.”
And no wonder, Martin Luther called it the gospel in a nutshell…the gospel in 24 to 27 words (depending on your translation).
I would venture to guess that we’ve all heard this verse before.
Many of us memorized it in Sunday School.
Many of us know it by poster board.
And perhaps we know it so well that we haven’t given it a second, or third thought in a long time…
So we’re just going to write John 3:16 over and over again for the next 50 minutes…
Of course…the problem with pulling any one verse out of any one passage is that you miss what is happening around it…and this verse is no exception. Its so unfortunate that they don’t make poster board big enough to hold the entire passage…

It begins with a late night visit…

“Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.”

Nicodemus comes to Jesus under the cover of darkness…wanting the disguise of night so he wouldn’t have to hear about it from his Pharisee friends. But I also believe that he wants Jesus to himself…without the crowds that had already begun following him around…
He clearly has questions weighing on his mind…and it seems as though they are not just his own, after all, he says, “We know that you are a teacher…”
So obviously a prior conversation with his Pharisee posse has occurred…they have come to the conclusion that Jesus is a teacher sent from God. He goes on to call Jesus “Rabbi.”
He shows respect from the very beginning…and his questions are curious…not crafty or interrogating.
What proceeds from there is a Q and A session that must have lasted well into the night.
We get the highlights…but clearly this is a conversation that lasts for quite a long time.
But why go to Jesus in the first place? Nicodemus seemingly gained no earthy
good by seeking out Jesus…
He was a trained rabbi, a Pharisee…respected and revered. He had learned the right answer to all of life’s questions from an early age…verses from Torah that he had to repeat over and over and over again…for a lot longer than 50 minutes…
But something must have been nagging at him…
And his curiosity could not contain him. And so he goes to Jesus…
What was Nicodemus looking for?
Despite his knowledge, his status, his position…there was something one of his repeated answers had not covered…
…and so question after question he tries to get at what he’s missing.
Jesus’ answers are perplexing and confusing…even for us today. Adults being born all over again, snakes being lifted up…this was not the linear teaching Nicodemus was used to…
And then Jesus speaks these words, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish but have eternal life.”
It is amazing to think of the first time these words were spoken…given that they’ve been repeated over and over in nearly every language since then.
If the Gospel can be summed up in one verse, than I think the one verse can be summed up in three words:
God so loved.
That’s what its all about.
That is the gospel.
That is what Nicodemus was looking for: A GOD WHO LOVES.
God so loved that he pours forth sacrifice, grace, and forgiveness.
God so loved that it is limitless…no borders, boundaries, or distinctions.
God so loved THE WORLD…that he gave his only son.
God so loved…and everything pours forth from there.
A message worth repeating over and over again…
We don’t know Nick’s immediate response…John doesn’t give us that information. But he doesn’t record another question after these verses.
Perhaps for the time being, his questions had been answered.
In no way how he thought they would be…
I wonder if the idea of a loving God had been missing from his education.
I wonder if the emphasis had been on characteristics of God that were more legalistic and judgmental.
And so to hear of a loving God was quite remarkable.
And maybe its not just remarkable for Nicodemus…but for you and me as well…
We know God is loving. But until we’ve written it on our hearts…over and over again…I wonder if we’ve really let it sink in.
We might feel as though God’s love is reserved for the really good people we know…or for us when we’re having a good day…or maybe we feel like God used to love us…but now we’ve fallen out of God’s love.
One of the most difficult directions to imagine God’s love pointing…is at us.
But if John tells us anything…it’s that God loves…from an Upper Class Pharisee to the Samaritan Woman we’ll consider next week…and everywhere in between.
We’re in that in between, aren’t we? Somewhere between a noble religious type and a scandalous outcast.
And so when Jesus says, “God so loves THE WORLD…” He means God loves all of it.
I was helping out in a preaching class at Western Seminary this past week, and the students were introducing themselves to me by saying their name and the preaching culture they grew up in. One of the student said: “All of the preacher’s points started with the same letter…and there was a lot about damnation.”
That was the message that had repeated over and over at his church.
We are preaching to our children…whether you’re standing where I am, teaching Sunday School, serving our kids with special needs, or handing them a cup of water after the service.
And I long for our kids…old and young…to go out into the world knowing down to their very core that GOD LOVES THEM.
God so loved.
God so loved.
God so loved.
And everything else follows…
What are we preaching? What message are we repeating?
And so our response to God is to respond in kind. To love God with all our heart, mind, and strength. And to love our neighbors as ourselves.
God tells us over and over again in scripture that he loves us…and therefore we are to love one another.
God so loved…and that’s our call as well.
To love our children, our parents, our siblings…our friends…and even those for whom it is hard to love.
A few nights ago I was having a conversation with Kyle about some people in my life who have been hurtful over the past few weeks…totally removed from Fellowship by the way. And I must confess to you I was speaking about a few of these individuals in a less than charitable way…
Kyle said, I’m going to write them and tell them we love them and are thinking of them…
My response, “Well make sure you use the singular pronoun. I want nothing to do with that…Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go work on my sermon about God’s love.”
Just terrible of me…
Kyle said gently…”Lindsay, you taught me how to love. You taught me to say it often. Don’t forget your love.”
Ugh…I hate it when he’s right.
I’m sure you haven’t spoken ill of anyone this week. Just me. But on the off chance you did…can we remember together that we are to love?
Because God so loved.
The invitation for us is to do the same…
There are tremendous hurts that we hold…even in this room. There are questions that we’d like to ask Jesus on dark night… about why bad things happen…about why we hurt…
And many of these questions will go unanswered this side of heaven.
But I do know that God so loved to the world…that he gave us his son…
…and so entering into a relationship with Christ is one that leads to life, and not
death.
That is the answer to so many of our questions.
Loving God and Loving the World is a life’s work.
But we do it because it was Christ’s life work…and its good and hard work.
We don’t hear of Nicodemus after this conversation for many more chapters…
But he appears in John once again in chapter 19…after Jesus had been crucified…
John tells us that he brought, “a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. 40 They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42 And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.”
Nicodemus came to Jesus again, this time surrounded by the darkness of death.
Somewhere in the darkness of that night with Jesus, Nicodemus was transformed. He had opened himself up to a loving God, even when that love wasn’t what he was expecting, even when that love didn’t make any sense to him. And here he was…in an incredibly loving and compassionate act…caring for Jesus’ body…
I wonder if the words Jesus had spoke to him that night were ringing in his ears…
“For God so loved the world…that he gave his only son…and so I will believe in him, and have eternal life.”
I wonder if this became a phrase the Nicodemus repeated over and over again…
It certainly is a message worth repeating.
For God so loved the world…
For God so loved you…
For God so loved me…
…that he gave his only son.
Throughout life’s sunny days dark nights,…may this truth be one that repeats over and over again.
And may we never lose its wonder and beauty…
Amen

Renee Krueger