St Matthew’s Sermon 03-29-2018


Note: Parts 2 and 3 of this series were presented as letters being written during the service; part 2 before the Eucharist, part 3 after.

St Matthew’s Sermon 03-29-2018

Maundy Thursday

My Dear Theophilus (Part two)

My Dear Theophilus,

It has now been four days since we entered Jerusalem so jubilantly with Jesus! We are all weary, for every day we go into the Temple with him to hear him teach and every night we go out of the city to Bethany to eat and rest. I guess all of us are fueled by the excitement as, both, time to eat and time to rest are sparse. Tonight should be different as it is the time for the Feast of Unleavened Bread and I’m sure we will share that meal together in peace.

The demands of teaching that our Lord has placed upon himself seem to be taking a toll on him also. His mood has changed a bit; he often seems distressed and agitated and exhibits a sense of hurriedness; even more so that before. In fact, the second day we were here, the first thing he did as we entered the Temple was to chase out those selling animals for sacrifice, and the money-changers along with them, shouting “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”

As you can imagine, the Priests and the Scribes were not too happy about that! But what are they going to do; with the great number of people following Jesus they wouldn’t dare to stand up against him!

He’s also been saying things that we don’t quite understand; things about being “betrayed”… and “turned over to the authorities”… and being “lifted up”…

Yet, every day he’s right back in the Temple teaching and preaching as if there’ll be no end!

And oh the teaching! As I wrote in my last letter, he has such remarkable understanding of the scriptures and explains them so clearly! Now he’s doing it right in the Temple; telling us how having faith in God can move mountains… and about the resurrection of the dead… and about the coming of the new kingdom that God will reign with mercy and justice for all people unlike the Priests and Scribes who preach to enrichen themselves… and the Romans who rule only for their own gain!

There are some who are warning Jesus to not push things too far; those of little faith. They fear the Romans and the Governor and even the Priests and think that there is some way that trouble will arise against us. As for me, and many others, we know that this is the Messiah, the one who will free us, return Jerusalem to her glory, and bring about the new kingdom of which he speaks! If our faith can move a mountain, surely his faith can bring us liberation! And oh what a wonderful day it will be! And it will be soon; so near that I can almost see it; perhaps, even, at tomorrow’s dawn!

It is almost time for the Feast to begin and I have been called to join the others. Again, Theophilus, I urge you come to us in Jerusalem to witness for yourself the coming of the new age with Jesus; Messiah and King!

Your brother in the family of God

Matthias

Communion

 

My Dear Theophilus (Part three)

My Dear Theophilus,

With as much joy and excitement that I had in my previous letters, I now write with equal measures of sadness and despair…

I don’t know how to give you this tragic news…

Everything that seemed so right; the joy, the anticipation, the excitement, the certainty… is now gone… Our Lord… is dead…

Oh, Theophilus, how can this be

 

There is no explanation, just a long string of rapidly occurring events. In just one day we have gone from the top of the mountain of glory to the deepest mire in the darkest valley below…

 

We shared, together, the Feast of Unleavened Bread as we planned. As we gathered Jesus seemed even more anxious and agitated than before, and said that one of us, one of his 12, would betray him. Of course, we all denied that it could be one of us, one of his chosen.

After the meal we left the city, as usual, but this time, instead of going into Bethany, Jesus wanted to go to the Mount of Olives, into a place called Gethsemane to pray before we slept. When we were there, the one named Judas came leading some of the Priests, Scribes and Elders and a crowd they had riled against us.

Imagine, if you can, our despair; that one of our own would do such a thing; and that we hadn’t even noticed that he was not with us after the meal…

Only one among us tried to make a stand in defense of our Lord but it was hopeless, there were too many in the mob…

Theophilus, it is with great shame that I tell you… all of us… even I… deserted him and scattered…

 

I’ve heard there was a trial… but what kind of justice can be found in the dark of the night? Those of the Temple convinced the Romans that Jesus was a threat and further agitated the people against him…

This morning he was nailed to a cross…. hanging there in such anguish… until… by the grace of God… he breathed his last breath…

 

I have also heard that another of the faithful has, somehow, gained permission to claim the body and has given him a proper burial. More than that I do not know, for I, and I presume the others, are in hiding for fear of being recognized as followers and also be taken…

My friend, I am glad you did not come to Jerusalem when I encouraged you to do so… by the grace of God you have been spared such awful misery… And so, I tell you now, do not come; it is not safe… and there is nothing here to see but the anguished faces of those who failed…

May God’s peace be with you; it is surely not with me.

No longer worthy to be called your brother… nor of God’s family,

Matthias