Year C Lent 2 - 2 different sermons
Philippians 3:17 Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. 4:1 Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
Luke 13:31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, "Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you." 32 He replied, "Go tell that fox, `I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.' 33 In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day--for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem! 34 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, `Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.' "
In The Bucket List film, two terminally ill men, Jack Nicholson & Morgan Freeman, escape from a cancer ward and head on the road with a list of goals to accomplish before they die. Nicholson says, “I envy people who have faith, I just can't get my head around it.” Freeman replied, “Maybe because your head's in the way.”
What is your goal in life? This question links the two readings today. In both passages there are two, opposing goals in life. In the gospel we have Jesus’ way and the way of those around him. Jesus’ way was to keep following the path that God had given him to go the cross. 32 I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.'
Jesus’ words were to the Pharisees who wanted to deflect him from that route, to get him away from Jerusalem. But Jesus allied himself to the prophets whom the Pharisees forefathers had persecuted and killed, 34 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
Those who rejected Jesus are described as desolate, v.35. Without Jesus people have no hope. Jesus not only alludes to his death and resurrection when he refers to the three days. He also refers to his return to take believers to be with God forever. This is what he has in view when he said I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, `Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.' " He was not referring to Palm Sunday.
So, we have Jesus steadfastly following a way that, initially seemed a failure. The religious leaders conspired to kill him& had his lifeless body guarded in a cave. Yet Jesus rose from the dead and gives life, now and forever, to those who are dead to the world but alive to him.
In Philippians 3 Paul reminds believers that “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. “
Our citizenship is in heaven. Believers are not citizens of earth, or the UK, or the EU. People wanting to become a UK citizen have to pass a “Life in the UK” test. This test is on British culture and life, the idea being that people applying should understand and accept, even adopt, the values of British culture.
Of course the Home Secretary recently took UK citizenship away from Shamima Begum because she left the UK to join IS. He said, “We must remember that those who left Britain to join Daesh (IS) were full of hate for our country. My message is clear: if you have supported terrorist organisations abroad I will not hesitate to prevent your return.” He clearly believes that people who do not have British values, who would even conspire against Britain do not deserve to be citizens.
So, believers must reflect the culture and values of the kingdom they are citizens of. For Christians this is heaven. We should persevere in this, 4.1Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
Life on earth will not be easy for believers and they will face opposition. Paul wrote that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. This does not mean that Christians are to be so heavenly minded that they are no earthly use. William Wilberforce battled for years against slavery. He said, Our mottto must continue to be perseverence. And, ultimately I trust the Almighty will crown our efforts with success.
An athlete will go through years of training, dieting, practising in order to reach the goal of winning a medal. People will go through painful surgery in the hope that they will be better at the end of the process. Believers who persevere can look forward to their goal of citizenship in heaven & having new, resurrection bodies like Jesus. 20b. the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
The resurrection body of Christ had certain characteristics . The body was real, visible, capable of being touched, and recognizable. Yet at the same time it was able to pass through solid objects and disappear. The new bodies of believers will have the new capacities. They will be powerful, radiant & glorious 1 Cor. 15.43, immortal 1 Cor. 15.42, there will be no more crying, death or pain Rev 21.4. They will be spiritual, fully orientated to and filled with the Holy Spirit.
We can be confident that we can reach our goal because of God’s grace, His undeserved favour to us shown through the life death, resurrection, ascension and promised return of Jesus. The world that we live in is temporary and imperfect. The magnificent temple at Jerusalem was reduced to rubble with the whole city in AD 70. We look around at many stabbings in the UK, mass shootings in New Zealand and the USA, Brexit, North Korea’s nuclear threat, and so on. We can mourn about these situations, pray about them, and have the confidence that God is in charge and one day we will be with him and all believers from history in paradise with new resurrection bodies like Jesus’. In the meantime we are called to live as citizens of heaven and persevere in living God’s way, whatever those around us do.
Colossians 3.1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Here we see the commitment and compassion of Jesus. His commitment to follow the mission entrusted to him by God. Of ministering to people, going to the cross and rising from the dead.
We cannot assume that the Pharisees words were motivated by concern or Jesus. They may have wished to divert him from his goal by moving him, perhaps to an area where they had more influence.
Jesus describes Herod Antipas as a fox, the meaning then was "insignificant" or "meaningless", rather than the cunning we associate with the word. Yet Herod's father, Herod the Great had killed the boys under 2 soon after Jesus' birth ( Matt. 2:16-18 ). Herod Antipas had slain John the Baptist. Despite this Jesus was not afraid because his life and death were in God's hands.
Today's Epistle, Phil. 3:17-4:1, also speaks of the need to follow God's ways and stand firm in the Lord, 4:1.
Jesus is also compassionate, like a mother hen, for those who reject him and are, therefore, disobedient to God. Whilst some of the Jews would welcome Jesus with the words of Psalm 118:26, verse 35, others are not prepared to come to him. Indeed, they would reject and kill him, just as their predecessors rejected and killed the prophets. A reminder to us that standing up for God and His ways will lead to problems, even death for some believers.
What is God's goal, verse 32, for my life?
What could, or does, distract me from this? During lent can I address this?
How can I show compassion to those who have not yet accepted Jesus?
( 23rd March marks the 200 year anniversary of the Act that abolished the slave trade in the U.K. A film called "Amazing Grace" is due for release in the U.K. On 23rd March 2007 )
Young William Wilberforce was discouraged one night in the early 1790s after another defeat in his 10 year battle against the slave trade in England. Tired and frustrated, he opened his Bible and began to leaf through it. A small piece of paper fell out and fluttered to the floor. It was a letter written by John Wesley shortly before his death. Wilberforce read it again: "Unless the divine power has raised you up... I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that (abominable practice of slavery), which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? Oh, be not weary of well-doing. Go on in the name of God, and in the power of His might."
St. Martin of Tours whilst on horseback in Amiens in Gaul (modern France) encountered a beggar. Having nothing to give but the clothes on his back, he cut his heavy officer's cloak in half, and gave it to the beggar. Later he had a vision of Christ wearing the cloak.
On a visit to Lombardy to see his parents, he was robbed in the mountains - but managed to convert one of the thieves.