Sermon for this Sunday 1/23

If you were to decide what was your favorite quote from Jesus, what would it be?

For myself, I have a few that have always travelled around in mind.

  • “Father, forgive them for they know now what they do.”
  • “Lo, behold I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”
  • “My Father’s house is a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.”

Then, one that has been very meaningful to me throughout the years, the shortest verse in many translations of the Bible- “Jesus wept.”

The context of the passage is from John chapter 11, when Jesus’ cousin, Lazarus had been dead many days.

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.

Often, in the commentaries and devotions written on this passage, Jesus wept is a description of Jesus’ humanity. Of the human side of Jesus hurting at the loss of his family member and moved deeply by the grief he was seeing all around Him. When Jesus cried, he cried because he was also human.

But I have often wondered about this. About why it has been so important to differentiate between Jesus’ humanity and divinity when Jesus’ was crying. Like it is only Jesus’ human side that was crying is an underlying idea that God is separate and far apart from the hurt of this world, somehow untouched by our pain. But is that so?

Does God cry? Does God grieve over the hurt in this world? Does God feel emotions?

  • Genesis 6:6 -So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.
  • Psalm 78:40- Oh, how often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
        and grieved his heart in that dry wasteland.
  • Isaiah 63:10- But they rebelled against him and grieved his Holy Spirit.
  • Psalm 56:8- You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

Then you have this picture of God in the New Heavens and the New Earth, after this creation has passed away. (Revelation 7:17)

For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

This is such a beautiful image of God reaching down and gently wiping each tear flowing down one of His children’s faces. Like the image of a loving parent wiping away the tears from their children’s eyes.

            God’s Word in Scripture also tells us, that when you see Jesus you see God.

  • John 14:7- (Jesus said), If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”
  • Hebrews 1:3- (Jesus is), the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power

When we see Jesus, we see God and when we see Jesus feel deep and heartfelt emotions, this is a picture of the nature of God.

  • And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it,
  • When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
  • When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.”
  • When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.
  • When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.

From just a few of these passages we see the depth of compassion and emotion that our God feels for us, whether we speak of God the Son in His Humanity or in His Divinity, or of God the Father, but also of God the Holy Spirit.

  • Romans 8:25-27- Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Our God, Father-Son-Holy Spirit, loves us and has deep compassion for us and the hurts that we feel and experience each and every day. There is nowhere we can go in our emotions or experiences that is far away from God’s love and reach for us.

  • Psalm 139:7 “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!”

Quite literally, when we are going through hell, our God is not far from us and shows us compassion and love. Which comes to our passage today about the Body of Christ.

  • 1 Corinthians 12 selected “or as the body is one, and has a number of parts, and all the parts make one body, so is Christ. For through the baptism of the one Spirit we were all formed into one body, Jews or Greeks, servants or free men, and were all made full of the same Spirit. 14For the body is not one part, but a number of parts. Now they are all different parts, but one body. And the eye may not say to the hand, I have no need of you: or again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. No, those parts which seem to be feeble are the more necessary; And to those parts of the body which seem to have less honour we give all the more honour; and to those parts of the body which are a cause of shame to us we give the greater respect;”

Most of the time this passage is talked about in terms of the local Church on Earth. About how the church family gets along with each other and treats each other. Some members of a church family going through struggles, or being different than others, rich and poor, young and old, and everything in between; none of it matters because we are all part of the Body of Christ, united in faith through the waters of Holy Baptism that have made us all part of Jesus’ Christ body here on Earth. But I wonder how seriously we take that understanding that we are all part of Jesus’ body.

This past week I did a stupid thing that I’m paying for right now. I was trying to open a bottle cap with my thumbnail. It just wasn’t opening no matter how hard I tried, until… my thumbnail ripped right down the middle. Of course, instead of being patient and clipping it I grabbed the jagged edge and pulled! I ripped my thumbnail out right down the side. While I was typing, my thumb is killing me with every spacebar tap.

Imagine, that all of humanity and all of its sinfulness is like this hurt thumb on the body of Christ. This little hurt, for as small as it is, is a constant sore thumb, literally. But it will heal, eventually if I take care of it. But when you take the collective hurt, sinfulness, and brokenness of all Christians, who are joined into the Body of Jesus Christ. It is a much different picture, we are no longer a simple sore thumb or torn nail on Jesus’ Body, in our sinfulness we are a growth, gangrenous rot, and tumor all on the body of Christ.

In the body of Christ, each one of us is the less honorable part, the weaker and shameful part of the Body. When this amount of the body is diseased and rotten, the only answer on a human body is to have it removed, have the tumor removed or the limb amputated. With all of that hurt, why hasn’t Jesus simply amputated us and left us for dead? In any other circumstance it is the only option that would ever seem to make sense.

Why hasn’t God simply just cut us off and thrown us away? Because that is not the heart of God.  When he saw the crowds (when He saw you and me), he had compassion on us because we were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus did not choose to do the reasonable thing which any of us would do and get rid of the offending part of His body. No, instead Jesus took all of the hurt to the place where he would feel the most pain and we would be given the greatest healing, to the place of the cross. “Father forgive them, (you and me and all of the hurt we cause) because they know not what they do.” Jesus is our great healer and doctor.

  • And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus is the one who has compassion for all of our weakness.

  • For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Even though we are all the parts of the Body of Christ that are weak, shameful, and feeble, instead of saying we are not needed, Jesus has given to us the greater healing, the greater importance and the greater honor of not only being part of His Body but remaining a part of His body, both now and eternally. This kind of grace is unknown to us and this world and only comes from the love of God in Jesus.

Knowing that in our sinfulness we are the more shameful, weak and feeble parts of the body of Christ, this says a lot about how we are called treat each other in a church family.

First of all, don’t act like the sore thumb on the body of Christ. Act like the renewed and healed part of the Body that Christ is making you into.

Second, recognize our place in all of this. We can honestly say that a diseased growth never says to another diseased growth, “I’m more important than you!” That simply never, ever happens. Not one of us is the more noble and respected part of the Body and it is only through pure, unadulterated, and heavenly grace that any of us are still connected to Christ or to each other. Be humbled by what God has done and continues to do for you. Do not think of yourself higher than you ought. Do not ever, in word or deed play the comparison game with each other or look down upon each other, because a diseased growth has no place to say “how great I am or how lousy you are.”

No, as the weaker members of the body of Christ, each of us, be overwhelmed with God’s grace, be grateful we have never been amputated away by God, and share the overwhelming grace of God with the weaker parts of the body, of which you are one as well.

Published by philipmcclelland.org

​I am a recovering burned out workaholic​ who forgot I couldn't change the world. From the ashes of that not only have I found a peace from God that I never knew but a focus on what matters, God, family and loving my neighbor as God has loved me. My burning out experiences really drive my writing and how much I want to share all of the good God has worked through the hurt I've experienced. Currently I serve a great little parish in Northern Ohio with my wonderful family and our furry farm of five dogs, four cats and the oddball handful of fish. You can find me at www.philipmcclelland.org.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: