Jesus Wants to Know…What Have You Come to See?

[Take a deep breath.] How sweet it is. ‘To be back in the Lord’s house. This house. And in your company. The Good Book is right. “A Day in HIS courts IS better than a thousand elsewhere.” But… I have to confess. It is and was good to get away for a while, too. To vacation. To vacate your every day life and try on something new and different for awhile. To imagine: what if? What if no work, school, cares, whatever. Well, this summer Sunday morning, what if, at church, we asked what if? What if we could talk to Jesus in person, what would we ask him? Really, what would you ask Jesus? _________ (congregation) _____________.

Now get this. What if Jesus could ask a few questions of us? What would he ask? Actually, we needn’t imagine. You see Jesus, Jesus did ask. Jesus questioned. And still does. Here are three of Jesus’ most important questions? What have you come to see? Didn’t you know: I had to? And this one. Why should I not? Over these next three weeks, I invite you to consider. How will you answer…Jesus?

O, Jesus wants to know. I promise you. He asks us as surely as those so long ago. What’ve you come to see? “ ‘A reed shaken by the wind? ‘A man clothed in soft clothing? ‘A prophet? ‘More than a prophet. Look, God sends God’s messenger. He’s right in front of your face, preparing your way.” What you see, very much depends, on what you’re looking for. Jesus knows this, and knows our lives and our souls depend on our answer. So he yearns for us to focus eyes, guard our hearts, and open our ears.

Focus. What’s yours, in Jesus name? Can you really sing the old song for a new life, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand?” Or are you willing to settle in salvation for a mere reed, shaken by the wind? Some of us really do lean, do focus on some pretty thin reeds these days. While away I spent a week listening to lectures and reading on the theme, “Our Digital Identity.” It was all about how this electronic age is shaping and changing not just how we do but who we are. And what we’re looking for. A couple of lines struck me. In a poem, these. “It was hard enough to make friends when friends formed cliques, now it’s harder still when clicks make friends!” The words were shared by an 18 year old boy. And this line, “We are coming to look for more from technology than from ourselves. We settle for the illusion of companionship without the demands of real friendship.” Our kids may have the jump on us, but lots of us are on the same path. Where’s your focus? The O’s are streaking, the Raven’s starting. The election stuff is heating up. (Anybody here just lookin’ for a man clothed in soft clothing?) Our local ballot will now include education for kids whose parents brought them here without permission, more slots plus table games (if Md. issued money it might read, ‘In casinos we trust!’), and then there’s what makes a marriage. We’re all watching the unemployment numbers & feel SS insecure. And amidst the simple cottages of a century ago, where Sunday School teachers used to learn all they could of Christ at the place we took our rest, new houses rise. Under construction, the guy who owns “Purell” is building a $15 M “summer house”. Mercy. Has this guy’s been lookin’ for a prophet? I can only wonder if he’s heard that story about the guy who had so much stuff in his barns, he tore them down to build bigger ones, on the eat, drink and be merry plan. Jesus calls him a fool, for his soul will be required of him this very night. And how has he been building his soul? And all of this contrasted by the extraordinary email I received. The true tale of a 3 ½ yr. old right here at NB. Child: “Mommy, what’s a temple.” Mom: “A place to worship and pray. Why?” C: God told me about it last night. M: Did you go to visit God? C: He came to visit me. M: Was it a dream? C: No. It was real. M: What does God look like? C: He’s a really BIG guy and his face looks like sunshine. M: What did God say? C: Don’t ever worry. I’ll always be with you.” Wow. Jesus wants to know: what’s your focus? If you’re having’ trouble with yours, you might want to remember this little one. ‘Not surprising. Jesus knows, “a little child shall lead….” And “unless you believe like one of these, you might just be lookin’ a long time for a seat in the Kingdom.” (To put it mildly.)

O, sweet friends. Jesus asks you this summer day. “What have you come out to see?” It will be needful that you guard your heart. Old timey Methodists had experiences that are still timely today. I love the woman at a class meeting who earnestly exclaims, “I emptied my heart. I let Jesus in. And Jesus took up all the room!” Today we baptize 3 children and 1 adult dad. Wouldn’t it be a wonder if we could help them come to just this place? And won’t it be a mark of sin on our souls if we do not? You know, when you come to church, you come to one of the few, if not the only place, that still dares to ask you to say “No”. The grocery store wants you to say yes. Repeatedly. In every aisle! The credit card people are praying you’ll be saying yes, early and often. When the robo-calls start telling you how to vote, they’ll ask for your yes. The Doc wants you to say yes to every conceivable test (with/without promise of relief). And next week when school starts, the hallways of the high schools will whisper to our kids, “Say yes to it all: what smokes, drinks, cuts, blinks, tempts, cheats, or sizzles kinda sexy.” In a world where ole Satan Himself hisses, “Say yes”, you come, and bring the kids and the youth to a place that insists we start with a NO. “Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin? And do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?” In short, will you guard your heart for heaven’s sake? Jesus is asking!

What’ve you come to see? What are you open to hear? Maybe it matters most when your faith begins to flag and your wonder at God’s love begins to wander. ‘When you begin to ask, is it worth it? Can I believe it? Can I stake my life on it, this Jesus, this gospel, from here to eternity? That’s just where John the Baptist was, so long ago. Life in the pits! (Literally what the dungeon of his day was. A hole in the floor… over which old Herod who imprisoned him could walk over. Look in, talk through, pull him out or cut him down.) So he sent his friends to Jesus asking, “Are you the one? Or shall we wait for another?” Jesus answers, “Wash out John’s ears and Windex John’s eyes with this. Tell John what you’ve seen and heard: the blind now see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor get good news. And everyone who takes no offense at me is blessed!” ‘You been in the pits awhile yourself of late? If so, open your ears! There’s good news on the air. And it’s coming by the name and in the power of Jesus Christ! And HE WANTS TO KNOW: What have you come to see? And he gives us good counsel: Focus. Guard your heart. Open your ears, indeed… and for sure!

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