Toorak Uniting Church

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Who Is He To Me?

Rev. Ken Gilson
Palm Sunday
17 April 2011

Once again I ask you, does it really matter who we think Jesus was and is?
Will, who we believe he is, shapes our lives?
Does who he is, arouse any passion in you,
Or is this Easter just another holiday?

The simplest Faith Statement of the early Church was Jesus Is Lord.
The one to whom we owe our allegiance.

In ancient times men followed their Lords into battle - they fought for them.
Life often seems like a battle or a fight, sometimes even a fight to survive.

Is there anyone you would allow to lead you into a fight for life or do you always go your own way?
The leader of political party that wins an election tells us, "By your vote you have given us the right to lead you. You have given us the right to decide how you will live and you will have to accept what we deal out to you." I wonder how the men and women we will elect to office, shape up with Jesus, God’s chosen leader?
Perhaps you think, this is an irrelevant question. Do politics and religion have anything to do with one another?

Six weeks ago we began our Lenten journey with a story of a garden, a tree and a broken relationship; the garden of Eden, the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil, the break in relationship between God and humankind , when men and women choose to go their own way. Now at the end of Lent we are face with another garden, symbolic tree and a re-forming of the relationship between humanity and God; the garden of Gethsemane the cross and Jesus choice to do God's will not his own.

Over the next six weeks the lectionary has invited us to hear the key faith stories of God's people; the stories that nurtured Jesus Faith.
Today Jesus himself is the story. Jesus is the faithful servant. He comes and serves people. He doesn't Lord it over them yet he is despised and rejected by those he came to serve.
Throughout out the faith stories, in the bible, we see that again and again the people rejected God's ways. But again and again God calls his people back and forgives them. As we listen to these stories we might well think, why doesn't God give up on these people?

The story of Holy Week tells us that after a life of service and help to others, Jesus was rejected and finally put to death; God's chosen son, is hated, despised and rejected, If we had not heard the story before we might well have thought "Surely God will now give them up as a bad joke, a useless and ungrateful lot." But the message we hear again and again in the Easter story is God's response to this terrible act of hatred and rejection is not abandonment, but love.

On Easter Sunday God's action of raising Jesus to life says, "I will not allow you to destroy my chosen one. There is nothing that you can do that will cause me to stop loving you or give you up as lost."
"When ever you reject my love, whenever you seek to kill me ,I will rise up and go on loving you".
As Paul tells the Church in the letter to the Romans chapter 8 "There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord".

God seeks to call from us an answering love like that of Jesus.
When we seek to return the love God has shown to us in the life of Jesus, we discover the joy of the relationship with God and our neighbours, that was described for us in the story of the Garden of Eden,

It is not our love for God, it is not our good works or high ideals, it is not how intelligent or hard working we are, but how much God loves us that makes us able to give of ourselves for the sake of others.
It is Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane, in contrast to Adam and Eve, in the garden of Eden, who prays "Not my will but yours be done".

This Jesus is the leader I seek to follow, because I see that whatever he does is not for his own sake, - not to build up an image of his own greatness - not to put down his opponents, - not even to impress me - but simply, out of love, to serve.

This is the kind of leader, I can trust. This is the kind of leader I look for in every part of life: in politics, economics, and especially on the journey of faith. The selfless person is the only one I can trust he is the only person I want to call Lord.
How about you?

© Rev. Ken Gilson, 2011

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