You may have heard the news that life expectancy in the United States is decreasing because of what have been termed “deaths of despair:” opioid overdoses and suicides. Our culture is living a story of isolation and hopelessness. In today’s Gospel reading (John 19:20-26), we hear Jesus’ prayer to his Father to make his followers into a people of unity and hope so that the world can know his presence. This unity is much deeper than simply getting along. It is the gift and work of God in us, for the sake of the world.
In John’s Gospel, the miracles of Jesus are called “signs.” They are physical events that point to spiritual realities. They tell us about who Jesus is, and who we are. In today’s Gospel (John 5:1-9), we are in the place of a paralyzed man. He can’t walk; he can’t live the life he was designed to live. His physical condition is our spiritual condition. We were designed for a life of faith and love, a life of joy and peace, a life full of freedom and power. But we can’t do it. The reality of sin paralyzes our hearts and souls. Without a new strength, we are unable to walk the road we were created to walk. But Jesus rewrites our story of weakness into a story of strength and power. Listen, and be left with the challenge: do you want to be made well?
During the Last Supper, shortly before Jesus goes to the cross, he gives his disciples a “new commandment” that will guide them for the rest of their lives. Even when the disciples didn’t make it easy to love them, Jesus fought for their love. Pastor Paige asks listeners to think about how they fulfill Jesus’ command from John 13:31-35 to “love one another,” and how they fight for love in their own lives.
In John 10:22-30, Jesus offers promises that seem outrageous. He says that he will hold his followers secure in his hand no matter what. How can he offer eternal security in a world that is so filled with anxiety, challenge, and suffering? Well, the key question is this: where is the hand of Jesus? Once we see that, then we will see what a life of true security looks like. It is not a life of comfort and contentedness, but one of adventure and challenge for the sake of the world.
Jesus’ disciples weren’t sure what to do now that their crucified Lord was alive! While they waited for new instructions in John 21:1-19, they went back to what was familiar: fishing. Then the risen Jesus showed up on the shore and rewrote their story. Pastor Paige shares the good news of how Jesus gave his disciples—and still gives us today, as Easter people—a greater mission and a bigger adventure than anything we could choose for ourselves.