How many of you are what we call “cradle Episcopalians?” Of those of you who are, how many of you feel like the church did a good job teaching you how to have a relationship with Jesus?
Hooker believed that our true happiness, the purpose of human existence, consists in our participation in God and God’s in us.
And the question is, which way will he follow: the way of deception or the way of reality, that is, God’s reality? The devil tempts him with displays of three kinds of power: the power of miracle, the power of safety and the power of dominion. Jesus says an emphatic no each time. I am called to a different way. And he goes on that way and that way will lead him to the cross where he will hear a similar temptation, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
This story tells me that if we are going to relate to Jesus here are things we have to be prepared for:
v Jesus is not willing to be your personal magician, miracle-worker, or power broker. They are not in his job description, but…
v Jesus will be more than glad to walk with you through the desert, as long as it takes.
v Jesus, simply put, will refuse to be who you want him to be. That’s the bad news. The good news is, he will never, ever leave you and he will never, ever stop loving you.
Oh, and one other thing. Don’t play Bible-trivia with this guy. You will lose.
None of this answers all the questions we have about Jesus and how to relate to him, and to allow him to relate to us. But it’s a start. Now for the next four weeks we will hear four great stories about individual encounters with Jesus from John’s Gospel. Next week from chapter three, Nicodemus will come to Jesus under the cover of darkness. Then, from chapter four, Jesus will be passing through Samaria and stop by a well for a drink, where he will have a long encounter with a woman.
Then from chapter nine, Jesus will heal a blind man and there will be much fussing about by both his parents and the religious authorities. And finally, from chapter 11, Jesus’ beloved friend Lazarus will die and Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha will send for Jesus and an awe-inspiring tale will follow.My goal is this. I believe that after Jesus’ death, it was the relationship that the disciples had had with him that made all the difference, that made Easter real. I want that same real Easter for us. I want us to know more deeply what we say at our Baptism, that we have been buried with Christ in his death, and raised with him in his resurrection. How can we participate in Jesus’ life, and he in ours?