Here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church we continue to explore our program “The Story.” Last week we saw how the ministry of Jesus began to be established. (Sermon can be found here.) This week, in Chapter 23, we witness the growing momentum of His ministry. Most of His work takes place around the Sea of Galilee, and many flock to witness all that He does. One things is clear. There is nothing ordinary about Him or His work.
No one had seen a teacher like Jesus before. Sometimes Jesus taught in parables. Other times He taught directly (such as in the Sermon on the Mount). For those who took it on board, Jesus’ teaching was life changing. Much of His message sought to re-frame what God was like. “God is like a shepherd going to look for the lost sheep.” “God is like a Father welcoming back a wayward son.” “God is like a woman who rejoices over finding her lost coin.”
Through His parables we are presented with a picture of God, and then asked to respond. We are invited to be like the man who sees a person in need and crosses the street to care for them. We are invited to be like a person who chooses to pray in their room; humbly and without pride. We are encouraged to be like “good seed,” allowing God’s Word to grow in our hearts.
Yet Jesus was more than a moral teacher. He worked miracles. He multiplied fishes and loaves so that they could feed 5,000 people. He healed the souls of people who were out of their mind. He calmed a storm just by speaking a word. He healed the sick and brought the dead back to life. These miraculous acts left people astounded.
Jesus also made it clear what the stakes of following Him truly were. “Take up your Cross and follow me!” To a crowd who were raised on stories of their ancestors eating manna in the desert, Jesus proclaimed that He could give them something that would lead to ultimate fulfillment. Eternal life, true life, abundant life! He proclaimed that He was the “Bread of Life.” This was a tough teaching that left many people confused. “From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.” (John 6:66)
Jesus asked His closest disciples, the Twelve, if they would leave Him as well. Peter replied that they had nowhere else to go because they had come to believe that Jesus truly was the chosen one of God. There had never been any one like Him before. There never has been since.
There was nothing ordinary about Jesus. His life, His ministry and His influence upon our world have been extraordinary. It is for us to understand His significance and entertain the possibility that, under the influence of His love, we can also live in a way that is far from ordinary!
For some music, a thoughtful song by Janice Kapp Perry that complements our theme; “No Ordinary Man.” If you are in the area Sunday morning at 10:00 am, join us as we gather around a table laid with bread and wine, for an extraordinary remembrance of all He claimed to be!
The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.