Summary: Trading Spaces is a really popular Reality TV Show where homeowners compete and everyone hopefully ends up with a beautifully decorated room. Jesus traded spaces with us. . .
Because he had grown up just outside New York City a young pastor barely knew a cow from an ear of corn. That is, until he married a small town country girl from Ohio and traded spaces. Trading New York City for a small rural community, the day of his first sermon he tried very hard to fit in-- Maybe too hard! With his wife sitting in the front pew He began his discourse: “I never saw a cow until I met my wife.” Illustration from Readers Digest.
Trading Spaces: John was on his deathbed and gasped pitifully. "Give me one last request, dear," he said. "Of course, John," his wife said softly "Six months after I die," he said, "I want you to marry Bob." "But I thought you hated Bob," she said. With his last breath John said, "I do!"
Have you ever thought of trading places with a landlord. The trouble with being a landlord is tenants constant demands for repairs: Some even write letters like these:
The toilet is blocked and we cannot bathe the children until it is cleared.
This is to let you know that there is an awful smell coming from the man next door.
I request your permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen.
Will you please send someone to mend our cracked sidewalk? Yesterday my wife tripped on it and she is now pregnant.
Trading Spaces is a really popular Reality TV Show where homeowners compete and everyone hopefully ends up with a beautifully decorated room. What happens is that two teams of homeowners trade spaces with each other for two days with the help of one thousand dollars, one interior designer for each team and one carpenter for both. They redecorate one designated room in the other team’s home. During these two days, no one is allowed to talk to the other team and has absolutely no “say so” in what’s going on in the other house. Even though it’s on the Learning Channel and not a major network, this TV show has become so popular that the host, designers and carpenters are now as famous as movie stars. The names, Page, Genevieve, Doug, Edward, Vern, Carter, TY, Amy Wynn are now household names. The fun is to see people give up their power to the other team as they slap walls and furniture with bright or drab colors and fabrics as we wonder if the homeowners will like it. Imagine that two of your friends go into your home and paint your living room walls dark gray or bright orange. You’re stuck with orange or gray. When the host of the show switches keys with each team, the homeowners give up their power for two days.
Today I invite you to trade spaces with each one of the characters in our Gospel.
Let’s look at Martha. She had gone through the big trauma of losing her brother—he was dead for three whole days before Jesus brought him back from the dead. Martha was so grateful…In spite of the stress, still she had time and energy to open her house and prepare a delicious meal, a wonderful feast for Jesus. It was not only for Jesus, but for his disciples as well. You know when your spouse calls and says, “I’m bringing home ‘so and so’ for dinner, you’ve got to clean up, and you’ve got to prepare and you’ve got to…shop and cook and sometimes we complain. She didn’t do any of that: she was always willing to do the works of the Lord. As you trade spaces with Martha, think and ask yourself: How willing are you to put your needs aside in order to do the work of the Lord? Remember James --- “Faith without works is dead.”
Then there’s Lazarus, would you trade places with him? Dead for three days-- how can you wash the stench of death from your previously rotted body, except by clinging to Jesus. How does it feel to come back to life? Doesn’t everything look and feel exciting and precious. Are values and perspectives the same once you’ve been loosened and set free?
On the other side we have the disciples. Let’s trade spaces with them for a moment. Having witnessed one of the greatest miracles they would ever witness in their lifetime—a resurrection from the dead—unbelievable! They were probably so awestruck about that, and they were willing to follow Jesus 100%. They knew that Jesus had been targeted. They knew that the resurrection of Lazarus had really upset the political applecart, yet at this point, they were still willing to follow him. As you place yourself in the disciple’s room, ask yourself: Am I willing to take risks for Jesus and the church?
And then there was Judas who was very, very concerned about money for the poor. I’m going to ask you: “When are you Judas? Not who is like Judas in your life, but when are you a Judas? When do you trade spaces with Judas? When do you let Judas invade your sacred space and redecorate you? Judas was the one that handled the money. Jesus and the disciples let him, but they had their questions about what he was doing with the money. Was he using it for his own political gain? The Gospels tell us that he was a thief. He was a thief, but he was numbered among the disciples. Is there a thief in you—one who steals from the glory that belongs to God, that steals from the works that you need to dedicate to God, Are you like Judas in that you often have a negative, comment? …that discouraging word and negative spirit: “Why should we do that: let them!” …a critical spirit, a discourager, a complainer. Then you’ve traded spaces with Judas! That’s exactly what led to Judas’ betrayal. Or like Judas, do you powerfully push your agenda—your agenda before anybody else’s agenda: then too, you’ve traded spaces with Judas.