Faithlife Sermons

Living in the moment of the final hours

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I speak to you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - Amen

If you knew you were about to die - How would you spend the last few hours of Freedom?

            Many movies have run with this question

                        Movies like “Deep Impact” - where a comet is on a crash                                                                             course with the Earth

                                    And “Armageddon - with nearly the same plot

                        To the “Day after tomorrow”

Or if you like your movies from a few years ago – there is Richard Dreyfus in “Whose life is it anyways”

                                    Or Cold war movies like “the day the earth stood still”

                                                To humorous responses like “Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned                                                                  to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”

This theme of knowing that your life or the whole planet is coming to an end is an endless resource from which movies will continue to shape a plot around

“End of life” moments captured on film or in stories have built in situation that is ripe for emotions

                        It has the potential for stirring dramatic moments with grand romantic gestures

                                    Or providing heightened tension which humor can shine even brighter

Today we have a reading from the life of Jesus, with just such a moment – and we journey through the last few hours of Jesus’ freedom

We look into how God who came into this world to live as one of us decided to live out these few hours

The story is a familiar one to many and if you come from a tradition that celebrate Maundy Thursday – the night before Good Friday – you would have heard John Gospel read each year

                                    But for today try to suspend your knowledge of what comes next

Try to live in the moment and try to dig deep into how you might have felt if you were there to witness and be part of it all

Picture yourself as a close friend of Jesus, as one of his disciples

            You have followed this incredible rabbi, teacher for three years

                        You have been there for the miracles

                                    You have seen people - thought to be dead - come back to life

                                                You have seen water turned into wine

                                                            Seen how a few scraps of food could feed a huge crowd

                                                                        Watched as He stilled the storm and walked on water

                                                                                    You have seen the crowds that gather wherever he goes

You feel honored that he chosen you as one of His closest disciples, taking you along where-ever he is going

You feel like a little of His shine has rubbed off on you, you are seen as one of the great teachers disciples

                                    …He has taught you all the way…

                                                Showing you his authority

You marveling at his depth of knowledge of scriptures - but also of his continually new way of explaining them

                        You have been afraid at what he has said to those in authority

                                    Wanted him to tone it down

                                                To be less confrontational

                                                            You were there when Peter declared Him to be the Messiah and you                                                           knew in that moment that He was and you were part of it

Then only a few days ago - there was his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where all those that have followed him, all those that had arrived early, in preparation for the Passover feast,

Were there to see Him in the light that you have seen him

                        At that moment the prophets words came rushing back to you and - you know

                                    You know that this is most incredible moment - this is history - this is what your                                        people have been waiting for so long

And now it is the Passover …

            Your group has arranged to have the Passover feast in an upper room

                        The room is large enough for all of His closest friends to be there

Amazing how He is able to arrange such a room during Passover - but that is a small thought now, when you consider all that He has done over the three years

It is a joyful occasion, with much to eat and the good company of these close friends that you have been with over the last three years

Then in the midst of this celebration, were you are remembering how God has provided for your people

With the angel of death Passed over your ancestors – all that were faithful and did what father Moses told them to do

                        In midst of all this - Jesus gets up - removes his outer clothing - puts a towel around his waist

-          fills a bowl full of water and knells down in front of all of you to wash your feet

-          wash your feet? The teacher is going to wash your feet?

It is so inexplicable - so beyond understanding

I mean this is a job that is below Jewish slaves, this is a job that you would only get the Gentile slaves to do

                        Our feet are the dirtiest part of us - all day walking in the dusty dirty roads,

protected only with a mere thin piece of leather

                                    And the teacher, the rabbi is doing this for us


And strangely you all feel compelled to let him do it

            One by one you all get your feet washed

Until it is Peter’s turn - then He speaks the words that we are all thinking

            He asks the master why would He wash our feet? - we should be washing His?

                        Jesus responds in that quite disarming way he has, and simply says

“you don’t know what I am doing, but later will understand” (John 13:7)

Well, Peter still doesn’t feel right about this and he tells Jesus that he won’t do it

Again Jesus calmly tells him

                        “unless I wash you, you have no share with me” (John 13:8b)

                                    and of course Peter wants it all

                                                and typical Peter ask the Lord to wash all of him

            No - just the feet - that is all that is needed - that is all that is dirty

And we all file in line - one at a time until He has washed all of our feet

            There is a quite amazement about the place

                        We don’t understand what has just happen or why

                                    But we do know this - with the teacher there is a purpose for

everything He does

So we wait…

After he had washed all of our feet he puts back on His robe and returns to the table and says to us

                        “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you                                   are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your                                    feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that                             you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Very truly, I tell you, servants are not                                              greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17                                     If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” (John 13:12-17)


Jesus the Christ is calling you - This is no mere bed-time story

This is not a message of a mythical person that went about the land years ago merely doing good deeds and coming up with clever sayings

This is The Lord - our God

Now open your mind back up to the realization that we know the rest of the story – We know that a day later this servant rabbi will be mocked and beaten

Will be paraded about in a kangaroo court

            Forced to be ridiculed with a purple robe and crown of thorns

                        Then wiped and beaten to within an inch of His life

Only to then be forced to carry His own Cross to the site of His execution

Then to die in the midst of thieves – one on each side

            But of course we also know that the account of Jesus’ life does even end there

                        After securely being put into a new tomb with Roman guards posted outside

                                    On the third day - Jesus rose from the dead

                                                Fulfilling the words of the prophets

Atoning for all our sins and wining the greatest victory ever over death and all that is death

And it is to this post Easter moment that we live in and especially remember this time of year - in the season of Easter – this, the fifth Sunday of Easter

We are Easter people – people of the new covenant – people in the midst of “the already…” and yet people in constant state of the “not yet…”

And so although it might seem strange to have our gospel reading from a moment in time right before Easter – when we are just a few weeks past Easter

But, consider what Jesus said, right after what he has just shown them – washing their feet

            Consider his parting instruction

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”(John 13:34-35)


Love one another just as I have loved you

            By this everyone will know that you are my disciples

Jesus in His final words as a free man, in the last night before he is to be brutally executed

            Models servant ministry and calls us to do just as He has done…

                        That is the very way in which our identity as disciples will be known

                                    That is the way that we will be recognized as Christians

                                                When we serve others in Love

2000 years ago our Lord came in the midst of us – was in-fleshed – incarnated and knowing the end is near He doesn’t take one last thrill, there is no ‘bucket list’ for Jesus

No He seizes the moment to teach us how to live – in community, loving each other, serving each other in that Love

We 2000 years later in churches all over this world have develop institutions that do so many things – but if we are to follow Jesus – the heart of our activities needs to be about loving service

A tendency of any organization is to have a part of their identity about maintaining that organization

And while that is vital – to follow Jesus in that loving service there needs to also be an aspect where the church looks outside that church community

            Here is where our lesson from Acts of the Apostles speaks

Peter recounts, for the second time in Acts, ‘his vision’ & God’s affirmation of that vision by bringing Peter to Cornelius

            Peter is doing this to declare to those that are questioning him why he is associating with Gentiles

Peter, the righteous Jew and disciple of Jesus, breaks from his cultural upbringing because God came down to him in his dream and told him to break with the limiting factors of his culture - And he testifies

“16And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?”(Acts 11:16-17)

And so as we consider ourselves as Easter people living our lives to follow and fulfill the promise of the Gospel and also waiting for the Lord to come again - go into your world, your community, your work, your family and friends in the knowledge, and certain faith

            And let the world know Jesus Christ as he wanted to be known

            Love one another just as I have loved you

                        By this everyone will know that you are my disciples

            Let us be a people that others know that we are disciples by how we live – on earth as it is in heaven


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