Summary: A sermon which concludes that how we treat others is how we treat Christ.

Matthew 8:14-17

“Jesus was Homeless?”

By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor Of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN

If we were to compare Mark’s version of this event with Matthew’s, we would see that this happened in Capernaum, on the Sabbath, after Jesus had worshipped in the synagogue.

When Jesus was in Capernaum, His headquarters were in Peter’s house.

And one reason for this is that, it seems, Jesus had no home of His own.

Just a few verses down Jesus declares, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

So, while in Capernaum Jesus lived in Peter’s house.

Archaeologists have excavated a building in Capernaum that was originally constructed in the First Century—during the time of Jesus.

Later in the same century this house was used as a meeting place for Christians.

Fourth and fifth century church buildings incorporated the house and called it “Peter’s house” which may very well be historically accurate.

So, Peter was married, and Christian tradition has it that later on Peter’s wife was Peter’s helper in the work of the Gospel.

Clement of Alexandria tells us that Peter and his wife were martyred together.

In our Gospel Lesson for this evening, Peter’s wife’s mother was sick with a fever until Jesus came into the house and touched her hand.

Immediately after this, “the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.”

She clearly thought of herself as “saved to serve.”

She used the gift of her restored health to serve Jesus.

And that is the way we should use every gift of God.

God comes into our lives, into our hearts and transforms us for service.

To be healed by God is the most powerful thing.

To be forgiven and set free is the greatest miracle of all.

And it causes a great change in us.

We begin to look for ways to serve Christ: the One Who loves us and saves us…

…and in looking, we find that it is in serving other human beings that we serve Christ!!!

Isn’t it awesome how God is so in love with us, that God is served when we are served…

…God is loved when we are loved…

…God is clothed when we are clothed…

…God is fed when we are fed…

…and conversely, God is thirsty, cold, in prison and homeless when we are.

We are not alone, God is much closer to each of us than we could ever imagine!!!

So, how should that play out in the way we see and treat others?

God doesn’t play favorites.

God is in love with you, but God is just as in love with you as God is in love with the person sitting next to you and behind or in front of you.

God is just as in love with you as God is in love with the person holding the “will work for food” sign at the interstate exit ramp.

God is just as in love with you as God is in love with the person who suffers because she has been abused by her father, uncle or husband.

God is just as in love with you as God is in love with the most outcaste, the most marginalized, the most cut-off and hated persons in human society.

God is just as close to them as God is close to you!!!

And so, the way we treat others is the way we treat God—literally!!!

How are we doing on that level?

In our Gospel lesson from this morning, Jesus tells us, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

“If you just love those who love you, what good is that?”

A friend of mine recently confessed that he has trouble with “stinky people.”

People who literally “stink.”

He said that is a problem that he is asking God to work on in his life.

Who or what kind of people do you, do I have trouble loving and serving?

How can we overcome our prejudice, how can we learn to see Jesus in everyone we meet?

We can’t do it alone, can we?

We must be aware of where we fall short, and thus ask God to convert the corners of our lives which remain unconverted!

We must ask God to help us to love those whom we have a hard time loving.

There is an element missing in most of our lives.

Sometimes we are very aware of this.

And so we groan with the world and wonder why everything aches so profoundly, why we feel so far from who we know we could be, from the Garden of Eden, from God.

And perhaps we suspect that the missing element may have something to do with how we treat our neighbors, and thus how we treat our relationship with God.

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