By: Staci Stallings
There are times I really wish I had a photographic-auditory memory. That is, I wish I could remember verbatim and without glitch, important things I hear. Like tonight’s sermon. The overarching theme was what did Jesus mean when He said, “Do this in remembrance of Me”?
The priest named seven specific texts of which Jesus was speaking. I remember six of them. Figures.
But I think those six important enough to share them with you, so here goes.
The first text was that of the call of Levi. Strangely, this is one of our VBS stories, so I’ve been studying it. Now Levi (later named Matthew, the writer of the first Gospel) was a tax collector. That was code for sinner and cheat in Jesus’ day. Tax collectors literally collected taxes for the Roman empire, but the way they got paid was by taking a “share” of the tax they collected. Now there was a fair percentage, but many if not most tax collectors charged more than what was considered fair. So the job of tax collector became synonymous with someone who was going to cheat you. Even if they didn’t, it felt like they did.
Levi was at his collecting table one day when Jesus passed by. Jesus called him, and Levi, now Matthew, came. He left his old life behind and became a new man in Christ.
So our first “do in remembrance” is to call people to a new way of life in Christ. (Or if we are the ones being called, to leave our old life behind and step into what God’s asking of us.)
The second story was the woman who came and washed Jesus’ feet with her tears. The point of that story from Jesus’ perspective is forgiveness, rather than condemnation for those in sin. We are called to ask forgiveness, and we are called to forgive, to raise up, to allow others’ tears to cleanse.
What we are not called to do is what those around Jesus did… whisper, criticize, condemn, trash, antagonize. You get the idea.
“Do THIS in remembrance of Me.” Forgive someone who is truly sorry.
The third story was that of the feeding of the multitude on the hillside. You probably remember it as the loaves and fishes. I noticed something tonight as they were reading this text that struck me differently than the other times I have heard it. Notice, Jesus did not tell the disciples what He was going to do. First, He told them, “Have the people sit down.” Now “sit down” is a passive posture. When you “sit down,” you’re not in active mode, you’re in waiting on someone else to do something mode.
I remember a long time ago, I heard a preacher talking about Moses and the whole parting the Red Sea thing. He said that in the movie, Moses was up on the hill and he stretched out his hand. But he pictured it more with Moses LEADING the people through the sea, i.e. walking in first on faith that God wasn’t going to let him drown.
That’s what I see the disciples doing here. Jesus told them to do something that to the natural eye makes no sense. “Have them sit down.” But the disciples had to take a step that made no sense (like Moses walking into that water) ON FAITH before the miracle happened.
Now, I was doing really well remembering and keeping up to this point, but after this, things get a little fuzzy.
One of the next stories was Martha and Mary, and showing others that the best attitude is a posture which looks only to Jesus rather than us trying to do everything FOR Him.
The sixth story was of Jesus at supper on the Sabbath, and people came to be healed. The Pharisees went nuts because He was healing people on the Sabbath. But the point of God is to bring people TO Him, not make rules to keep people away. Do THIS… bring people to Me. Don’t keep them away. Don’t set up life so that people want not part of Me. SHOW them that living with Me is really living.
The final story has always been one of my favorites. It features a guy who knew he wasn’t worthy, but whose curiosity couldn’t be quelled. A guy who couldn’t “see” because he was vertically challenged, but may also have been spiritually challenged. A guy who threw all societal rules to the side in exchange for a glimpse of the One thing–the One Man who really mattered. Zaccheus. And Jesus said to him, “Tonight I shall dine in your home.”
Do THIS… invite people in. Dine with them. Get to know them. Make it a point to spend some time with them.
I sure wish I remembered what that other story was, but I’m glad I remember these.