St. James' Episcopal Church
Our 158th Year
Friday, June 22, 2007
Sermon for Sunday June 24, 2007
Sermon for June 24, 2007
St. James’, Goshen
In this morning’s Gospel we heard Jesus ask the central question of Christianity. “Who do you say that I am?” The Gospel of Luke tries to answer the great question several ways and several times.
The Gospel opens with the Annunciation to Mary that she will conceive and bear the Son of God, the Messiah. Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who is also carrying a child who became John the Baptist. Elizabeth understood that Mary’s child would be the Messiah. At the birth of Jesus, the angels told the shepherd out in the field near Bethlehem. The story of the Kings, or Magi, is in the Gospel of Matthew. In Luke the women, Mary and Elizabeth know, and shepherds know. But women and shepherd can not give testimony; they can not be trusted to know anything. But we as readers and hearers of the Gospel are in on the answer to the question, Who is Jesus.
The first hints are in the early ministry of Jesus. First he is a teacher in Nazareth, but the people of Nazareth rejected him and his teachings. So Jesus of Nazareth moved down the hill to the more cosmopolitan city of Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. There in Capernaum, Jesus continued his teaching in the synagogue, and began to gather his disciples. First Jesus was a Teacher.
As people began to listen to his teaching, then Jesus began to do more than teach. The Gospel of Luke shows Jesus doing a series of healings. Second, Jesus was a healer.
The Jesus does some unusual things…He chooses Levi, the tax collector to be a follower. Tax collectors worked for the Roman occupiers and were considered by the Jewish people to be traitors, sinners and shunned. And Jesus worked on the Sabbath, by picking a few heads of wheat or barley to eat. He openly broke one of the ten commandments, Keep Holy the Sabbath Day. The Sabbath is Saturday, the last day of the week, God created all in six days and on the seventh day He rested. What did you do yesterday? Good thing we are not expecting to be saved by keeping all of the Law. Third Jesus was revolutionary.
When John the Baptist was imprisoned he sent two of his disciples to Jesus with the question: “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered the question by saying look at the works I have done. Each of the healings were ones done by the Prophets of the Old Testament: blind see, the lame walk, leapers cleansed, deaf hear, dead are raised to new life, the Good News in proclaimed to the poor; happy is the man who does not lose faith in me. John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus as the one for whom they have been waiting.
Jesus asked his disciple: who do you say that I am? They bumbled around, Some say you are one of the prophets of old, some say you are like John the Baptist. And Jesus asked again, But who do you say that I am. As long as we answer the question by saying some say you are a: teacher, healer, prophet or even like John the Baptist, we fail the answer the real question. Who is Jesus.
Peter gave it a great try: you are the Christ of God.
In the Christian Calendar of Saints, John the Baptist is honored with the longest day of the year, for shedding the first and great light on the identity of Jesus, the one for whom we have waited.
St. Thomas is honored on the shortest day of the year because he would not believe in the risen Jesus unless he himself saw and touched the risen body. But it is Thomas who was the first to say that Jesus is “My Lord and my God.”
So who do you say Jesus is? Some say… My Grandmother says… My priest says…. But who do you say He is?
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