Lent 5 :: Seeing Jesus

“Sir, we wish to see Jesus."

Left 9

Jesus Praise

What do we show people who may say this to us?

Do we show them the High Priest of Hebrews? Dressed in long flowing robes with a mighty turban on his head? Or perhaps some medieval wizard like Gandalf or Merlin with a long white beard, carrying a wooden staff and wearing a rumpled, pointy hat? Do we point out the “priest forever after the order of Melchizedek”? Wait! What?

Or do we point them to the One who bore our sins on the cross, high and lifted up? Who wants to take away your sin if only you will give your heart to him right here and now… Come kneel with me in prayer and accept Jesus as your Lord and savior!

Well, of course, we Episcopalians would probably never respond in such a way to someone who asks us about Jesus. At least certainly not in the kneel-with-me-now-and-accept-Jesus sort of way.

And, of course, when was the last time someone actually asked you to show them Jesus? I mean really. This is just too much for us to even consider. Because we all know that everyone who wants to know Jesus already does know him. And those who don’t know Jesus really don’t care to know Jesus anyway. Right? Besides, there are lots of other folks in other churches who will be more than glad to show people Jesus. So we don’t have to.

But what kind of Jesus are they shown by the folks in those other churches who are quite eager to show people Jesus?

A judge

A God of wrath and condemnation

A God who advocates peace wrought through victory over enemies

Someone who says you have to believe the right things and do the right things and even say the right things

True, Jesus is also our friend and savior who wants us to go to Heaven, but he is also someone who demands unerring loyalty and who punishes those who do not quite fit the bill.

This is a Jesus who rewards our faith with wealth and good fortune, good jobs, great kids who always obey and who seems to be able to get us just the right parking place at the mall during the holiday shopping frenzy. But, this is also the Jesus who seems to imply that poverty and bad luck, unemployment, rotten kids and parking tickets are the result of a lack of faith.

Is this the kind of Jesus we really want to show people?

Actually, we don’t really need worry that much about it, because, and be honest now, when was the last time someone asked you to show them Jesus?

They haven’t? But, perhaps they have. Though not in so many words.

Do people ask you about your church? If you attend somewhere? Do they bare their souls to you in times of sadness or despair? Do they ever ask you why you have such a positive outlook on life or why you always seem to be happy in spite of difficulties you have faced? Do they wonder why it is you offer help to so-and-so or volunteer at such-and-such a place?

Because these are all questions that seek to know the Jesus you follow.

We need be attentive to these kinds of things people ask us. For really they are asking us to show them the One who the prophet tells us wants to covenant with us with a law of love written directly onto our hearts.

A law that offers

Forgiveness and not condemnation

Peace through justice

Love and compassion

Such a law written on our hearts empowers us to live the life of Jesus. You might say it even empowers us to be Jesus in the world, so that when others see us and how we live we are showing them Jesus.

What would it look like to have this law of the Love of God written on our hearts?

People locked in war are opened to the possibility of peace

People at enmity with others reaching out in love and reconciliation

People who disparage what others are about begin to see the world through the eyes of God rather than through their own narrow vision of the way things should be

We would begin to take better care of the world in which we live, this “fragile earth, our island home"

We would begin to treat others as God would treat them, instead of how we think they deserve to be treated

We would look to the interests of others rather than insist on our own interests

We would work together in community to tackle the systemic problems of hunger, homelessness, poverty, abuse, and violence

In short, we would be showing Jesus working through us to heal a hurting world.

Is this a rose-colored-glasses way of viewing the possibilities of God’s new covenant written on the heart? Or might it actually be the answer posed first those many years ago to Philip: “We wish to see Jesus”?

Link to RCL Lectionary for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B

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