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Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King –
Scripture Reading: Mark 11:1-11
11 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”
4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[b]
10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Sermon: “Who’s the Fool Now”
The Second Sunday After Easter April 15, 2018 “Family Resemblance” 1 John 3:1-10
In the election of 2004, then President George W. Bush ran against and defeated the Democratic nominee, Senator John Kerry. In the heat of the campaign, one enterprising supporter of President Bush took things just a bit too far.
A cashier at a Fashion Bug in Hempfield Township, Pennsylvania accepted this counterfeit $200 bill for some clothes and handed the woman who gave it to her about $100 in change. According to State Trooper Jeanne Martin, “Someone beside the cashier must’ve checked the cash drawer, then the store alerted us.”
It wasn’t hard to track down the woman from the information the store provided. The fake $200 bill had some unusual features. It bore the “signatures” of Presidents Reagan and George HW Bush. As if that wasn’t enough, the serial number was DUBYA4U2001.
Just as is the case with counterfeit currency, people who say they’re one thing but then act like another can cause a lot of mischief and even disaster, as this clip shows.
St. Augustine, commenting on today’s verses from John, wrote:
For those we call “children,” and aren’t children, what profit them the name where the thing is not? How many do we call “physicians” who know not how to heal! How many do we call “watchers,” who sleep all night long! So, we call many “Christians” who yet in their deeds are not.
The letter we call First John went out to Christians who weren’t so much counterfeit as they were confused. The writer starts with the basic ABCs of the faith. “Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.”
Even the basics make no sense if we don’t understand what sinning means. We think that was the case in the first century churches to whom the author wrote.
It may have been another version of the notion Paul met and fought over and over again, “The more we sin, the more grace God gives.”
It could have been a mistaken view of Christian freedom that said we don’t have to worry about sin anymore since Jesus took it all away.
It could have been people teaching that so long as you gave lip service to this Jesus, you can get away with pretty much anything you want.
Some may have even thought that, once you become a Christian, sin doesn’t exist for you anymore.
Whatever the misunderstanding, the writer of First John saw that it as a basic misunderstanding of how God’s love and grace work in our lives.
Like all good preachers, he tried to explain by using an example from the world around them. “See what love the Father has given us,” he wrote, “that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.”
God adopts us as God’s children through Jesus Christ. Adoptions were common in the Roman world, too, but not so much out of love or compassion for orphans.
Adoption was about inheritance and name, and usually took place when people—usually men—were young adults or adults.
A man adopted to carry on the name of the childless family would no longer owe any of his old family’s debts. He became a whole new person, in a new setting, with a new inheritance and a new identity.
“Now look at yourselves,” First John told those early Christians. “When you became God’s children through Jesus Christ, God forgave your past, gave your present new meaning and purpose, and opened a future of hope, not despair.”
The same is true for us. Our spiritual adoption as God’s children means there should even be a family resemblance, the result of our new spiritual DNA. In the physical world, that family resemblance is often easy to spot, sometimes several generations removed.
John and Julian Lennon, father and son, have a 50% genetic similarity. That’s easy enough to see in this side-by-side picture.
Adolf Hitler’s 50% share of his mother’s genes were clear when he was younger. As he gained weight down through the years, he looked more and more like his father.
Grandparents only share 25% genetic similarity with their grandchildren. That doesn’t mean that grandchildren can’t look like their grandparents, though. Here’s a picture of Eleanor Roosevelt and her granddaughter Anna Roosevelt.
Cousins share some genetic material, too, with a first cousin having the same proportion of DNA with you as a great grandparent, about 12.5%. Sometimes, though, uncanny likenesses crop up. For example, Ralph C. Lincoln discovered that he not only looked like, but was in fact third cousins with, another famous Lincoln.
What kind of family resemblance do we share with our spiritual Parent?
We now know that who we are physically as a person is a result of body interacting with the world around us in ways we’re only beginning to understand. Scientists have discovered that some very common foods can turn genetic switches off or on.
For example, sesame seeds, nuts, and sunflower seeds are all capable of turning some genes off, while broccoli and garlic can turn other switches on. How much we exercise affects our genetic makeup, as does the amount of stress we carry.
Our spiritual environment works the same way, shaping and influencing us. Just as those first century Christians misunderstood sin, we can also misunderstand God’s love and the happiness it offers.
Writer Joshua Becker says unhappy people look for happiness in the wrong places. Some try to find it in their next purchase or paycheck, others in a body carefully sculpted with diet and exercise.
Still others find happiness in competition or a new job. Some try to escape their problems in television, addiction, or weekend getaways.
Many look for happiness in other people, asking them to solve their problems and getting angry with them when they can’t.
In the same way that people misunderstand what happiness really is, some modern Christians misunderstand where joy comes from in their lives.
For First John, the good news is that whatever good we do or delight we find comes from what he calls “God’s seed abiding in us,” our spiritual DNA.
Some think so highly of themselves they mistake God’s gifts for their own talents. Some have such low self-esteem that they can’t imagine God would love them.
Others, because of the home they grew up in, find it hard to accept God as a parent at all. Still others are so focused on saving their own skin that they ignore their responsibility to the larger world around them.
As people of faith, we’re growing into a future of hope and anticipation that is ours as a gracious gift. Thanks to that promised future, we can endure uncertainty, loss, and death because God’s strength and presence renew us.
When we seek our happiness and our fulfillment, not in things that will inevitably disappoint us, but in God’s love and purposes for us, we remember the One to whom we’re finally accountable and from whom we draw our strength and our joy, this day and always. c