April 4, 2011 - To Journey with the Savior
Rev. James Abrams
As Jesus travels the dusty roads from Samaria to Galilee, preaching, healing, and blessing people with the rich grace of the Kingdom of God, he begins to draw a crowd. His growing popularity draws the attention of the religious leaders who challenge him on a number of fronts, and still his fame increases. I imagine that his reputation precedes him from one village to the next. When students, gardeners, grandparents and shop keepers discover that the Rabbi from Nazareth will be passing by, markets are suddenly closed, school is out, and a large gathering begins to assemble along the path that Jesus will soon be taking. By the time we catch up with him in John 6 the crowd is so vast that Jesus appears inaccessible to the majority.
The masses gather in expectation. They follow him closely, watching for a miracle, a demonstration, a sign. You can almost hear them. "I wonder what he'll do next." "My cousin saw him heal a leper." "They say he can make the blind see." "Maybe he'll cast out a demon, make the sun stand still or pull a rabbit out of a hat." The crowd is amazed at Jesus, entertained by the mere thought of a miracle, hungry for sign. This day, Jesus does not disappoint. He gives them what they want, in the form of what they need, and for that they want to make him king.
The crowd is a fickle bunch. They follow at a safe distance, have no responsibility, answer no direct question, always observing, but never fully participating. They sacrifice very little to follow Jesus. Most return home with full hearts, full minds and full bellies which is more than they came with. They will have a tale to tell in the morning and stories to share with their grand children. Mostly, they will return to life as usual, having been entertained by Jesus for an afternoon, but not having their lives transformed by him.
The disciple, on the other hand, is involved in a risky process of hands on, whole-life transformation. Following Jesus this closely is a costly endeavor. It requires an obedience and commitment to Jesus that will radically change one's life.
It's likely that we could follow Jesus around this Lenten season at a safe distance, comfortably entertained by his activity in our world. We could find ourselves among the crowd who sacrificed very little and kept their distance. Or, we could get up close and personal by joining the disciples who abandoned everything in full commitment to learn who he is, what he's about and to become all that he has called us to be. If we are not careful this Lenten season, we could find ourselves among the vast crowd, entertained in a game of follow the leader, while the Spirit is calling us to be a disciple who journeys with the Savior.
You have called us to journey with you into your redemptive mission to our world. Grant unto us courage in the face of suffering, trust in times of doubt and faithfulness on the day of temptation. Enable us to follow you close at hand so as to be used of you to share the Bread of Life with some hungry soul this week, we pray in the name of Christ our Lord - Amen.