As we enter a new year, it’s a good time to hear again the words of Jesus. But in addition to being hearers of the words of Jesus, we need to be doers of his words. (James 1:22-25 KJV). We need to cleanse people and civilizations of all their ills. (Matthew 8:1-3; 28:18-20).
My adorable 6-year old grandson was thrilled to see the closest conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 800 years. He made what trial lawyers call an “Excited Utterance.”
As we stood outside seeing this “Christmas Star” in the sky, I showed him my smart phone with some spectacular telescopic pictures of Jupiter (with its four moons) and Saturn (with its rings) drawing close together. He proudly said, “I saw it in real life!!!”.
It reminded me of a magic moment in Disney World a few years ago when we met Peter Pan. After his “photo op” with Peter Pan was over, my grandson ran to me with eyes wide open and proudly made the Excited Utterance: “I met the real Peter Pan!”.
There’s nothing like seeing “it” in real life or seeing the real person to get us making Excited Utterances.
In the Bible, one of those moments comes right after the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus has just spoken words that fulfill the ideals of the Law of Moses and the Prophets. (Matthew 5:17).
At the end of his Sermon, Jesus commands us to put his words into practice so that our lives will be built on a foundation of solid rock that holds firm no matter what adversities strike us. He warns us that, if we do not put his words into practice, our lives will be built on a foundation of shifting sand that crashes and destroys us when adversities strike. (Matthew 7:24-27).
Then we see the real Jesus in action in real life:
“When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’” (Matthew 8:1-2).
“Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.” (Matthew 8:3).
As we enter a new year, it’s a good time to hear again the words of Jesus.
But in addition to being hearers of the words of Jesus, we need to be doers of his words. (James 1:22-25 KJV).
We need to cleanse people and civilizations of all their ills. (Matthew 8:1-3; 28:18-20).
Then people will see us and make Excited Utterances:
“We saw Jesus in real life!”
“We met the real Jesus!”
I’m always challenged by a somewhat similar point that struck me after a comment by my son in church. He was very young (maybe three years old). We were seated near the back of the sanctuary. He stood up with his dirty shoes on the pew’s cushions. He stretched as tall as he could, craning his neck to see toward the front of the church. About four people sat on the elevated platform near the pulpit. Naturally, I was somewhat embarrassed that my son was getting the pew cushions dirty. I leaned over and whispered with some exasperation: “What are you doing?”. He answered, “I’m trying to see which of those people is Jesus.” Whenever I think back to that moment, I always wonder again: “When people look at me—or at any of us in the church—who do they think is ‘Jesus’?”.
As I wrote about this memory of my son standing with his shoes on the pew’s cushions, another thought crossed my mind. Like the Pharisees, how often do we Church-Goers get exasperated and embarrassed by those who are most earnestly trying to see Jesus—those whose dirty shoes are getting our tidy pew cushions dirty? (Luke 7:36-50; 14:12-14; 15:1-32; 19:1-10).
For additional thoughts about why we need to put the words of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount into action in the real world, please read my blog “Building Houses on Rock: Mission Impossible?”.
For additional thoughts about the Sermon on the Mount and touching lepers, please read the chapter “After the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Touches a Leper” in my book Hoping in the LORD, at pages 119-122.