“Would You Leave Also?” – VIII. “When Jesus Asks”
March 8, 2015 – Third Sunday in Lent – Two Cents Sunday
A Sermon by The Rev. Dr. John A. Dalles
OT Ps 22:23-31; NT John 6:60-69
My mother’s father used to tell a story about his grandmother’s brother. If you are following the line up the tree, this would have been my great-great-great uncle. The story goes like this. One day, in the middle of the Great Depression, so sometime around 1932, he went out for a loaf of bread.
He just went away.
No one who knew him before that day, ever saw him again.
Sometimes people just go away…
What makes someone do that…?
People who depart from one place or job or situation, do so because they believe going will be better than not going.
If they go away from point a, what they can be sure if is that they will not be at point a any longer.
As far as point a is concerned, they are gone. They have disappeared, they have pulled up stakes.
Down through the bible we know of the people who left. Adam and eve left the garden of Eden. How did that work out for them. The rich young ruler left the presence of Jesus. We know it and we feel sad about it, because we think—there he was—almost a part of the great adventure of being with the Lord. But off he went. We know nothing more about him.
All of those reasons may be well and good but when it comes to being in Jesus’ presence…
Why would anyone leave?
Jesus had been teaching his disciples about how one comes into the kingdom of God his message is not hard to understand. He tells them that “no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”
Now, while we are all raising our hands and saying, pick me, pick me… apparently there were those among his disciples who did not do that. They did not want that. John says…
66 “Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.”
Many of his disciples turned back. I cannot tell you one of their names. I cannot tell you one thing they said. Or one thing they did. They simply vanished. As if they had gone out for a loaf of bread in 1932 and were never seen again.
Many of his disciples turned back.
Many, but not all.
We know that there was a core group of disciples who did stay and went about with him. We know their names.
They were the ones who said:
“Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Why might it be better to stay with Jesus?
To remain in the same relationship with him?
So that one can see more, do more, learn more, lean more, trust more, try more, pray more, praise more…?
“You have the words of eternal life.”Jesus. we cannot hear them anywhere else.
We can consult horoscopes Z(please don’t) they don’t work.
We can listen to the latest self help guru (please don’t unless you want to line their pockets with small green portraits of obscure presidents).
We can listen to the prognosticators who tell us this or that is about to befall us. And there are plenty who do.
But if they are not speaking from the vantage point of Christian faith, and the truth of Christ, why give them the time of day?
Why does a well trained sentry stay at his post no matter what the weather may bring? The task at hand is larger than any personal preference. The mission is more important than the person, and yes, the person finds her or his meaning in the mission itself.
Did you wake up this morning with your mind stayed on Jesus ...?
Did you keep your mind stayed on Jesus throughout the day?
Did you recall yourself immediately when you sensed that you had strayed from Jesus…?
Did you stop, return, rest, and wait for Jesus?
They you are positioning yourself to receive what Jesus is offering to you.
Stay with Jesus.
There is an aspect of our 21st century world that has a “hello, I must be going” attitude about it. You know what I mean. People do not stay put much. Statistics say that the average American will 11.7 times times in his or her life. The average American will change not just JOBs but careers 7 tines in her or h is lifetime. The Average American - 16% of persons born after 1970 will marry, divorce, remarry, and redivorce – in his or her lifetime. There is a revolving door aspect of our modern world that we may regret., we may deplore, but we must understand has become the norm.
Now it is not the norm, when it comes to Christian discipleship. Christian Disciples are called to be “above average”.
There may be some disciples like those of Jesus who were t here or only a season, or only till they could get what they wanted from him, or only until the way became a bit difficult and then they turned back. They may have stayed a week or two, or the summer through but then they vanished.
This is not the way of Christian discipleship. We know it. We know that the Christian disciples are those who have stayed with Jesus. Yes they may have fallen asleep when he said keep watch, they may have looked momentarily away when he aid to keep their eyes upon him, they may have even denied knowing him when things got really dicey, but in the end they stayed the course and it was the course that changed the course of human history for all time. If we think of the eleven who did not leave him at this moment in our scripture, the ones we know about, who witnessed to his death and resurrection, who went about preaching the good ne3ws, who placed their very lives on the line for him, and all of whom died in the cause of Christ—and who gained the praise of our Lord and received the promise of eternity. Then we have the example to follow. Anything less would be…lack of commitment, lack of faith, lack of resolve, lack of integrity.
That great great great great uncle who went out for the loaf of bread in 1932…? He was lost to his family. Lost for all time. No one knows what became of him. I doubt that anyone will ever know.
Christian disciples don’t want to be like that. We want to stay close to Jesus – to be part of the family of faith, to know the Lord and to make him known. For today and for all eternity.
Stay close to Jesus.