Summary: A sermon for the 2nd Sunday in Lent, Series C

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2nd Sunday in Lent, February 28, 2010, “Series C”

Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, during these forty days of Lent, enable us to see all the ways that we have forsaken you, have turned away from your will for our lives, and have betrayed your love for us in Jesus the Christ. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, give us courage to be honest about our sin, and turn to your redeeming grace in Jesus’ death and resurrection. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.

According to Luke’s Gospel, the Transfiguration of our Lord marked a real turning point in his ministry. Prior to ascending that mountain with Peter, James and John, Jesus’ ministry was focused on teaching and healing and caring for the poor and those in need. When he came down from that mountain, Luke tells us that Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem,” and the cross that awaited him in that city, the hub of Israel’s faith.

In other words, following his transfiguration, the scope of Jesus’ ministry changed from proclaiming the kingdom of God to the people, to one of action, in which he would bring God’s promised redemption to fruition. And Jesus was resolute in his journey. Nothing could detain Jesus from the way he had chosen, nor redirect him toward some other destination.

This change in direction for Jesus is evidenced in our Gospel lesson for this morning. Consider the first portion of our text. Here, some well meaning Pharisees approach Jesus with a warning. They say to Jesus, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” But Jesus would not be deterred. In fact, his answer to the Pharisees certainly would not gain any ease in the tension of the moment. Jesus said, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’”

In other words, what Jesus has been doing and teaching offended many of the religious and political leaders of his day. He spoke the truth, and found himself in danger for his daily life. He spoke the truth about God’s love for the poor and outcast of society, and worked to restore them to wholeness of life. And in so doing, the religious and political elite were forced to face their own greed and lack of compassion for those whom, as members of God’s chosen people, they were to care for.

And by his example, do we not all feel a tinge of guilt and a call to repentance? For example, how often have we been confronted with situations in which we have compromised our faith, in order not to offend our companions? How often have we remained silent and refused to speak God’s truth, for fear that we might be chastised or rejected by those around us?

If you are like me, there are a number of times every week, in which we personally want more to fit in with those we are with, than to stand in opposition to what we know Jesus would not wish us to do as his disciple. Even such little things as laughing at and sharing off colored or racial jokes, which degrade those for whom our Lord identified, sets us apart from him, and the example he set for our lives.

As Paul points out in our second lesson, although we might now live our life here on earth, we are actually citizens of God’s heavenly kingdom. Our life, therefore, should reflect who we are, as children of God. We should live our lives as a witness to others that we are people whom God has claimed as his own.

But our Gospel lesson is not simply directed to our own individual lapses as disciples of Christ, as we compare our lives to his. Our text also has a corporate dimension to it. Jesus goes on to say, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers here brood under her wings, and you were not willing.”

Here, we have a prelude of Jesus weeping for his beloved Jerusalem, weeping for the holy city’s unwillingness to turn toward God, receive his Word in truth, and live according to it. Here, we gain a glimpse that Jesus is not only concerned about us as individuals, but also about the moral fabric of our society. If we loved our towns, our cities, our nation as well as Jesus did for his own, would we not also have cause to weep?

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