March 29, 2011 Listen to Him

March 29, 2011 Listen to Him
Rev. Melissa K. DeBono

John 7:37-52

In the journey to the cross, we tend to focus on the betrayals; Judas being lured to deception by 30 silver coins and Peter cowering away from a servant girl. I’m tempted to lump Nicodemus into that group and mock of his pale defense of Jesus. Maybe I expect too much of the written page. In print I respect courage and valor and I want to read about men and women who inspire me to greatness. But the people of the gospels don’t always do that.

The people of the gospels often are more mundane. They endure committee meetings afraid to say what they really think. They suffer through class not daring to ask their real questions. They worry about the legal implications of getting involved in protest. The characters of the Gospel are afraid to make a stand. They aren’t heroes, yet.

The teachings of Jesus are beginning to transform them. From Jesus they are learning a new kind of courage. Not the courage of the temple guard, who march through the streets in an armed mass. Not the courage of the Pharisees whose wealth and a pompous attitude protect them from the grimy realities of life. They are learning the courage of a simple man from Galilee who would dare to offer new life to the humble crowds: God with Us who opens the sacred to all, and does not try to control access to God’s presence.

Nicodemus might not have been a very courageous disciple, but he still absorbed some of Jesus teachings. And with the threat of arrest looming over Jesus ministry, Nicodemus offers this weak defense; reciting the ancient law that the accused should have an opportunity to present their defense. “Shouldn’t we listen to him first, before we condemn him?” This is hardly a confession of faith, lifting Jesus up as Messiah. But it is still a tiny step of faith toward Jesus. This is how courage is born.

Lent has hit you right in the middle of your regular life, in the middle of committee meetings and classes and social debate. And maybe you can have the courage to admit that you don’t feel up for the task of launching a religious and social revival like Jesus. Maybe today you are looking to follow in Jesus footprints like Nicodemus, with one small step. Today you can start by listening to Him.

Lord, when I am tempted to be silent, help me to listen to you.

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