A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lectionary Bible Commentary for April 28

Sermon (April 28) – “One Small Step”

Acts 11:1-18

Context – This relates to the story of Peter having a vision to go to a gentile city (Caesarea) to offer the good news of Christ to a gentile, Cornelius. Jews were careful to not enter a gentile city because of purity laws. The people in the home of Cornelius received the good news of Christ and were baptized by Peter.

Back in Judea where the Jewish believers were assembled, they questioned Peter for his association with the gentiles. After Peter explains what God has done, they realize that this is the work of the Holy Spirit that began at Pentecost (chapter 2) where people beyond the Jewish faith will receive the good news of Jesus Christ and be part of God’s covenant community.

This scripture raises all kinds of challenges for us! In what ways can we reach out beyond the barriers that separate the church from the community and world? If the Holy Spirit is reaching out to the whole world, why do we sometimes want to limit the work of the Spirit?

John 13:31-35

Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure. This is where the Last Discourse of Jesus begins and will last through the end of chapter 16!

The Last Discourse is considered by many to be the most intimate portion of scripture because of the personal words Jesus shares with his disciples.

Imagine the feelings of the disciples as they were hearing that Jesus would be leaving them and they still had so many questions about their new faith in Christ. We often feel that we don’t have enough information, knowledge about Jesus, experience, and yet, Jesus still believes that we are ready to follow him.

Later in the discourse, Jesus will explain that the Holy Spirit will continue to be with the disciples in Jesus’ absence.  We are never alone!

Jesus’ new commandment of love reminds us of Leviticus 19:18. The addition here is that Jesus wants us to follow his example. This is why he has washed the disciples’ feet.

If we are always waiting to have all the information or all the experience, we will never begin to step out on our own to live out our faith. Jesus teaches us to fly out of our nest!

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