Sermon at Kinmundy United Methodist Church on 6/02/2019.
Title: What Are You Waiting For? Matthew 28:18-19, John 20:19-31
Audio link – Right click, open in new tab to play: [Kinmundy]
Right click, open in new tab to view slides as a PDF: [Slides]
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?
What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?
as we read through the New Testament. As we think about the Ministry of Jesus, one of the things that seem so important to people today is this, Jesus drew crowds of thousands of people. Thousands of people came to hear his message. And for many people, this seems to be the essential characteristic, who has the biggest crowd? What do we do to gather the biggest crowd? How can we fix what’s broken in the church, so as to bring together a huge crowd? And of course, that was something that happened in the Ministry of Jesus. A theological scientist by the name of [inaudible] Aron, did a study some– I don’t know. 30, 40 years ago, quite some time ago. And he determined that among that crowd– and by the way, that’s the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, but it could be any crowd of people who think. But when Aron gave crowds a question to answer, what is the purpose of the church? Is it this? Or is it that? So one answer that people could choose was that the purpose of the church is to meet my needs and the needs of my family. But what Aron found is that when you ask a crowd of people at a church that question, 90% of the people in the crowd, this will be their answer, why not here? Because being here means my needs and the needs of my family. Nowadays, we sometimes call that a consumer-oriented Christianity. I don’t have any particular loyalty to a store. I go to this store because they stock what I want to buy, because they treat me a certain way, because I feel special and appreciated when I go there, and because it’s cheap, and doesn’t ask much for me in return. That’s a consumer concept. The purpose of the church is to meet my needs and the needs of my family.
Jesus also called a dozen disciples. A crowd showed up, but what was it that Jesus was doing? Calling specific people, “You, I want you to follow me. You, I want you to follow me.” He gathered around him a dozen people and spent a great deal of time with them. And that dozen people, we call them the disciples, became 120 by the time that Jesus’ resurrection. On the day of Pentecost, there’s 120 of them together praying [inaudible]. Jesus spent three years working hard to bring together 120 people. Crowds happened, but this was his focus disciple. And there’s an interesting thing. The other question that when I asked the crowd was this one, would you say that the purpose of the church is to meet my needs and the needs of my family? Or would you say that the purpose of the church is to seek and to save the lost and to set the oppressed free? And what he found is of the crowd, 10% of the people in the crowd would say, that’s the purpose. But here’s the thing that we need to keep in mind, among those 10%, you will always, always find Jesus. He himself said that he was not there to please himself, he was there to serve. He was not there to do what he wanted or say what he wanted but to say and do exactly what his father told him to do. He was a good soldier, so to speak. The purpose of what he was doing was not to take care of him but to seek and to save the lost and to set the oppressed free. It does matter that there’s 90% who feels differently, this is where you’ll find Jesus, this, I think, is a good definition of a disciple. And the maker of disciples modeled what it means to be a disciple. He was the Lord of all. but wasn’t here to take care of number one. James Stockdale talked about his seven and a half years as a prisoner of war in the infamous Hanoi Hilton, as it was called. And he was interviewed at many times of his life, he was the commanding officer of the POW’s, many of whom died. And he was asked the question, “What made the difference between those who survived this horrifying experience and those who couldn’t survive?” And he said, “Oh, oh, that’s easy. The optimists, they couldn’t survive. Oh, they were the ones who said we’re going to be home by Chrismas. They were the ones who said that, and Christmas would come and Christmas would go then they say we’re going to be out by Easter. And Easter would come and Easter would go and then Thanksgiving. And then it would be Christmas again and they did not get their wish. They did not get there need met and hopelessness grew.” Or a Stockdale said, “They died of a broken heart.” How can you keep your heart whole when life is full of disappointment? John 20:19, we’ve talked about this multiple Sundays between now and back and Easter because this is so important to me. So let’s travel this around a little bit more. On the end of that day, the first day of the week on the evening of Easter Sunday, the doors being shut, where the disciples were for fear. They thought they might be next to be crucified for fear the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hand and you show them his side where the spear went in and then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Now, what are they going to do next? And Jesus gives them their marching orders. Verse 21, Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so, I send you.” In other words, remember the day Jesus said, “When I said to you, ‘Follow me,’ and you did.” You no longer chose which way you would go. You let me choose, and you followed me. And I told you what to do, and I taught you about God. And now that I’ve been raised from the dead, it’s time to go back, and I want you to do all of that over again. Why? Because as the Father has sent me, in the same exact way as the Father has sent me, now I am going to send you. They are going to do again what they spent the last three years doing over and over and over again. Verse 22, “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you repay the sins of any, they are repaid.” This is what we’re supposed to do. What are we waiting for?
Well, beautifully there is someone who was waiting who is an illustration for us. Verse 24, now, Thomas, one of the 12 called the twin, was not with them when Jesus came. He was avoiding the others. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” Apparently, Thomas got quite upset. And he said to them, “Unless I see in his hand the print of the nails and place my finger in the mark of the nails and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” And because he says I will not believe, he has gotten the nickname for 2,000 years now of doubting Thomas. But his doubting really what’s going on here? Is Thomas a doubter? Now, think about it for just a minute. For three years, Thomas had followed Jesus. No doubt there. He left behind a family. He left behind a job or a business. He left behind friends. He left behind a place where he lived. And he went where Jesus went, did what Jesus told him to do for three straight years. There’s not any doubt there whatsoever. Who’s your Lord who tells you what to do? I’m here to do what Jesus tells me what to do. That’s what Thomas said for three years. But now, all of a sudden, I will not believe. Eight days goes by. Ironically, the disciples are still just sitting around, doing nothing. Not unusual for them.
Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house but this time, Thomas was with them. The doors were shut. But Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Now, it’s a little ironic. Every single time here the first time thing Jesus says, “Now, calm down. Peace be with you. Calm down. Peace be with you and then he appears to Thomas. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hand. Put out your hand and place it in my side. Do not be faithless, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God. The one whom I obey.” Jesus said to Thomas, “Have you believed because you’ve seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.” Notice, “Have you believed?” [inaudible] that tells Jesus that Thomas now believes, “My Lord and my God.” Obedience to Christ demonstrates that we believe. Verse 30, the last little bit, “Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written that you may believe. Everything is written so that you may believe, and the outcome of that belief what Jesus tells me to do, I am willing to do. These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.” Grief and fear can lead to hopelessness. You don’t need to be imprisoned in the Hanoi Hilton and suffering through torture to become hopeless. Going to the hospital is usually sufficient. Standing in the cemetery with people you love, saying goodbye to someone you love may be all that’s necessary for you to be filled hopelessness [and what despair is?]. But we need to understand that from fear and grief, at least the hopelessness that it can draw us to the death that comes from a [broken heart?]. I don’t think that Thomas’s problem is that he intellectually doubts that Jesus was the Christ nor do I think that it’s Thomas’s problem that he intellectually questions whether or not Jesus actually rose from the dead. I think Thomas is grieving. That he’s so full of sorrow, he’s not willing to do it again, “You can’t fool me again.” Grief is different [inaudible]. First stage of grief is simply this: I can’t believe it. That’s what people say after someone dies. “I can’t believe it.” If there’s trauma like the death of someone you love on the cross, this period of not being able to believe it lasts longer, but that’s the first little bit. “I can’t believe it.” And then Thomas is told, “Hey, guess what? We were wrong. You were wrong. He’s
that, he’s alive. And Thomas goes, “I can’t go there again. I can’t do this again. I’ve given everything I can, I can’t do this again. I can’t risk everything I left behind again. I can’t let myself believe because my heart is broken.” We’ve all been there. I’m 64 years old. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but every year that goes by, the stack of things that disappointed me gets higher. Sometimes I find myself dragged unwillingly into my past. I remember terrible things that happened to me, terrible things that other people did to me, terrible things and terrible mistakes that I’ve made. And they really suck you down into a place, a dark place [inaudible]. So I think I understand a little bit of this. Because there’s times I just get so tired. And I don’t want to get up again and try again and be disappointed again. And maybe from time to time you found yourself in that same place, that place of disappointment and grief. But friends, I want to tell you, Jesus Christ is the mender of broken human hearts.
It’s quite astonishing. People will lift up the microphone and they will pray for the physical healing of someone’s body on Sunday morning. People will stand up in church or ask [the reverend?] to start the prayer chain for the physical healing of someone with heart trouble. But it is almost never true that we will ask for healing for emotional pain. When we ask for prayers it’s as if the only thing that exists is physical pain. But friends, isn’t it true, sometimes the emotional pain is even harder to deal with. But Jesus Christ is the mender of broken human hearts, and he can heal disappointment as quickly as he can cure the blind men. He can heal emotional hurt from betrayal just as quickly as he can help the crippled man to walk in the New Testament. How odd it is that we never ask Christ to heal us in the emotional places where [inaudible]. But it’s still true. Jesus Christ is the mender of broken human hearts. And Thomas needs some healing. What would you need in order to believe? What is it that would mend your broken heart? Jesus Christ, the lord of lords, the king of kings, the presence of God with us. And Thomas says, “Here’s my list. I won’t believe unless I can put my finger where the nails where. I won’t believe until [this?] I can put my hand where the spirit went in. I won’t do it.” Eight days later, “Thomas, put your hand where you said you need to put your hand here my side. Sometimes people ask why did Jesus still have nails, holes in his hands after he rose from the dead. Why did he still have that wound from the sphere? Perhaps it’s like a scar, an honor. But perhaps this is why. Thomas is going to say these things. And Thomas is going to give God a list of what God has to do. That’s not very wise. But God loves Thomas. Jesus loves Thomas so much. Here’s the list and Jesus okay. What do you need that would prove to you that God loves you? What do you need that would prove to you that faith is not a disappointment, but a great opportunity? What do you need as a sign that what we believe in our hearts is true? What do you need? And are you willing to ask God for whatever that might be? 90% of the crowd, “The purpose of the church is to meet my needs and the needs of my family and if bad things happen. I’m out of here. I’ll try being a Buddhist. Maybe that’ll be more fun.” Here’s the other interesting thing that [inaudible].10% of the crowd felt different. The purpose of the church is to seek and save the lost and to set the oppressed free. You know, something odd though when we’re asked the same questions of a crowd pastor, you know the unusual thing? 10% of the pastor said that the purpose of the church is to meet my needs. But 90% of the pastors, “No, the purpose of the church is not about my needs, it’s to do what Jesus was called to do.”They just flip flop. Now, before you think I want all of you to become pastors, although there’s nothing wrong with that, I wonder if this is not the difference between a churchgoer and someone who is actually a disciple, that that’s really the difference. The disciples are concerned about what Jesus wants, not about getting what they want. And so, I want to tell you what Jesus wants because I believe that this verse is for us as much as it was for them. Jesus says us again, peace be with you. We need to come down in a world that is full of anguish and anxiety and disappointed. Peace be with you. But then, as the Father sent Jesus, now Jesus sends us to seek and to save the lost, to set free the oppressed and the see the whole world starting with right here. Follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Please, pray with me. Lord, it’s so easy to become focused on what we want. It’s so easy to become focused on what we need. And Lord at a certain time in our life, we are so needy, and so broken, and so much in need of your assistance, that this is where we have to start. But just like a baby who was always taken care of because a baby can’t do much for him or herself, Lord, I ask that you would help us to grow so that we might become less like a baby and we might become more like Jesus. And so that we would find in our own way as we are led by the Spirit in the timing that is yours, that we would begin to be people who could be sent by you to our neighborhood just as the Father sent you into our world. We ask you to help us to be a church that seeks and saves the lost, to be a church that sets free the oppressed, to be Christians that do these things to be genuine, true
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Raod, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.