Summary: The fourth sermon in a 2005 Lenten Series
(Opening of the sermon is the dramatic reading script “The Good Son” by Elaine Aadland for the Lenten Series, “Watchers on the Hill,” produced by Creative Communications for the Parish © 2003)Have you seen yourself; have you heard yourself in any of the dramatic dialogues that have taken place the past four weeks?
Have you heard your bewilderment in Simon’s voice who said, “I’m just in town on business? Alternatively, do realize the impact of Jesus on a person’s life with his statement “I will carry the weight of your cross for the rest of my days?”
Have you heard your disappointments and unreal expectations in the voice of Judas who betrayed Jesus? Did you encounter justifications for your attitudes and actions as you heard him say, “Master, I meant for you to fight. I didn’t think you’d let them take you. I wanted you to use your power to prove once and for all who you really were?”
On the other hand, have you heard your voice in Japhat’s voice, a voice of indifference and cruelty in his challenge to Jesus “If you are truly who you say you are, come down from that cross! SAVE YOURSELF!?”
Where do you see yourself in the Easter story?
I don’t know about you, but there has been at least one line in each of the dramatic dialogues that have caught my attention, how about you?
One this morning was Abigail’s response to Jesus’ comfort of Mary, “Well at least he’s a good son.”
In that day, in the days since He walked this earth, Jesus Christ has been viewed in many different ways. We have heard some of these in our dialogues – a renegade, a good son, a man of power, and to some the Son of God, the Messiah.
Who is Jesus Christ to you?
With the re-release of The Passion of the Christ this Lenten season and the images of that moving film coming back to me, I think of Mary. In Gibson’s film, there are flashbacks in Mary’s mind, as she watches her son led to His death, to when Jesus was younger, before He started His ministry and journey to the cross.
As I ponder those images (and the images of weeping that are in Luke’s account in chapter 23 and verses 27 and 28), more recent images of mothers’ grief come to mine: those of the past 20 plus years of weeping and wailing mothers and fathers in the Middle East because a bomb has killed their sons and daughters. The strong physical ness of their grief, shaking their fists, loud wailing and mourning, and being half carried away by others from the gruesome scene, hospital, or the morgue, is a part of that culture today. It is not a put on for the TV cameras.
In our main text for this morning, which only John includes in the Biblical story, we see the compassion and love of Christ demonstrated toward the woman who gave birth to Him. His words, “Woman, he is your son” and “She is your mother,” reflect the words of the Psalmist, “God places the lonely in families.” (Psalm 68:6)
Mary was in many senses, alone now; alone with her grief; alone with her fear; alone with her memories. Nevertheless, Jesus, while he hung on the cross, placed her in John’s family.
All of us are in families – with mixed results. For some, family is a painful memory while for others it is a source of strength, identity, and joy. Yet Jesus’ act of love toward Mary reminds us that because of His death and resurrection, we have the ability through the confession of our sins and trusting in Christ alone for salvation, to be a part of a new family, an eternal family – the family of God.
Mary and John would be a part of this new family. So would the repentant thief and even Simon (most likely) who carried the cross become a part of this new family.
Abigail was right! Jesus was a “good son.” He took care of his mother because, after all, a good son takes care of his mother.
Yet Lydia was right, too. “He has to be more than that! What if he really is the Christ?”
Jesus was (and still is) more than a good son! He is God’s good son because of what He was doing when He placed Mary with a new family. He was carrying out God’s plan to redeem the entire human family and enable us to come home to the Father and again be a part of His family.
Do you believe this to be true? Do you believe that Jesus Christ was (and still is) the Son of God who died on the cross for the sin that has caused our relationship with God the Father to be broken? Do you believe in (and have you experienced) the forgiveness made possible by Christ’s act on that cross which makes it possible for you to also join God’s family? It is always possible for this to happen to you – anytime, anywhere, including today.
I close with two questions to ponder this week, “What makes me a part of God’s family?” and “Am I acting like I am a part it?” Amen.