(John 5:16-30); (Jesus broke the Sabbath and Blamed it on his Father; he was simply an obedient and submissive son)
Unreflected or unexamined life is not worth living?-Socrates
One of my favorite theologians Stanley Hauerwas proposes that, “the most important social task of the church is to be a community capable of hearing the story of God we find in the scripture and living in a manner that is faithful to that story. This thesis leads us to ask the question,“ Is our community hearing the story and striving to be faithful to it? Does our community reflect our Christian convictions”? The answer to that question should be evident when we look at the kind of people we are or have become and what we are doing in order to continually be consistent with our story. The church is founded on the premise that God the creator decisively called and formed a people to serve him through Israel and through the work of Jesus Christ to bring about the redemption of God’s creation.
As Americans we are known for doing stuff. In fact “doing” constitutes part of who we are and hence forms parts of our greetings. When we meet people, shortly after a few exchanges of greetings and pleasantries, the conversation moves quickly to what we do. We as a people are defined by what we do. Doing gives us meaning in life and those who do not do are considered free loaders in the society and are often ostracized and get frowned upon. We are essentially doers and I do not need to take a lot of time to define what that means for you. I would like however to turn our attention to our life together as a community. I believe you have heard terms like, “we do church…. This is how we do church…etc .” The question is “what do we do? And why.”
Here at CCF, we have been doing church for almost eighty years as a congregation. I believe that our work has made a difference in people’s lives and have somehow made the world a better place for people whose lives we have touched in many ways by this ministry. As we begin this New Year, I would like to ask us to examine ourselves and see what kind of people we have become or we are becoming; what kinds of children are we raising? What is our view of marriage and how does marriage work among us? How do we care for the “least of these” among us? What role do we play in our community as a church? etc, in general in what way (s) is our church consistent with the story of Scripture?
Let us turn our attention to the child whose birth we just celebrated. This child, Jesus of Nazareth according the Gospels, did a lot while here on earth and it was one of those “doings” that became problematic. In John chapter 5, Jesus had healed a man that had been cripple and had sat by the pool of Bethesda for thirty-eight years. Thirty-eight years! This hit home for me differently because I am thirty-eight years old. Just imagine, as long as I have been living, the man had been sitting by the pool. The mistake that Jesus made was that he healed this poor guy on a Sabbath. Jesus’ “doing” had become problematic.
The event opened up a dialogue with the religious authorities who likewise were known for “doing” stuff in the name of religious piety. This exchange with the religious leaders gave Jesus the opportunity to state plainly and clearly what he was doing and why. Jesus responded that he was not acting independently but rather that his actions flowed from what he saw his Father doing. The implication here is that Jesus must have known the father and was familiar with his father’s routine. He knew what his father did and he did likewise. Therefore performing an act of mercy on a needy person was not Jesus’ own doing, but rather, it was what the father was doing and as a result Jesus did it as well. Wouldn’t that be nice if we as a church were to be known as a church that does what we see the Lord Jesus doing? In other words, what we do is consistent with the teaching of scripture.
In this exchange, we learn that Jesus is the Father’s Son, but more importantly, he is a son who lives in total submission to the Father’s will as we later see in Gethsemane when Jesus surrendered, “not my will but yours be done” as he faced the cross. Jesus shows us here that it is the Father that initiates activities and the son that obeys the Father by doing what the Father does. It is the Father that shows the son what to do, the Son for follows the Father’s example. The Father originates activity and the Son implements it in real life.
This was so because the father loves his son and includes him in everything he does. (One New Testament scholar argued that the language Jesus used was an apprentice shop language where the son learned the father’s carpentry trade) Jesus went on to illustrate some of the father’s work, which included; raising the dead. There may be people among us this morning that needs a resurrection; a resurrection of hope, a resurrection on relationship, financial situation etc. In fact this relationship is so tight to the point that the father gave the Son the eschatological role of raising the dead and serving as a judge these roles squarely put the Son in equal position with the father. The Jews had very strict boundaries on this kind of posturing after all it was the attempt to be “like” God that led Adam and Eve to sin in the first place. Jesus had committed multiple ‘offenses’ because he did what he saw his Father doing. Wouldn’t it be great to be accused as a community for doing what we see Jesus and the Father doing? Tune in next week for the next step.