Glencairn Methodist Church
For most of his adult ministry, Jesus concentrated on "the Kingdom of God". In his first preaching engagement, as recorded by St Mark, Jesus said, "The time has come. The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News." And for much of the next three years he went on to teach
· what this Kingdom is like in his parables that begin, "the Kingdom of God is like...",
· what it means to live in this Kingdom in his Sermon on the Mount, and
At this time, the Jews were living under the thumb of yet another tyrannical foreign government and they were looking for another Moses to lead them out of this slavery, another Judas Maccabeus to raise up an army to defeat the oppressor. In short they were looking for the long awaited Messiah who would save them. Jesus was, of course, that Messiah, but he dare not disclose his hand just yet, because the nature of his Messiah-ship was so different to their expectations. And his time for "coming out" had not yet arrived.
Jesus had a band of loyal followers, disciples, who were learning from him what this Kingdom is like, and, when he had fulfilled his Mission, would then understand exactly who he was and so would be able to persuade others to become disciples themselves. There were lots of clues to his identity in what he did, particularly in the performance of what St John describes as "miraculous signs", and people, including the close disciples, where wondering who he was and asking, "Could he be the Messiah?"
And as "the time" was drawing near, he asked the disciplines, "Who do men say that I am?", and they shared the different views people were expressing. Then he asked, "And who do YOU say that I am?" And the always-first-to-speak Peter said, "You are the Messiah". He, at least, had twigged on the truth. Jesus confirmed this with the twelve, but asked them to keep it to them selves for now because "the time had not yet come." Jesus had "come out" to his closed friends. There is another story where Jesus "comes out" to a Samaritan woman and to her whole village. But still his disciples did not fully understand, and so, on his way to Jerusalem for the last and fatal time, he taught them that he must die on a cross to fulfil his rescue mission.
His big "coming out" was on Palm Sunday when he openly declared by his actions that he was the Messiah, riding to Jerusalem to claim his throne. But yet, the powers of this world did not want to hear him as he was a threat to their way of life and privileged position in society. And so, this good man was sacrificed on a cross to "save the nation", as the high priest ironically said.
Good Friday came and Jesus was crucified, dead and buried. But on the third day, the Gospels record that Jesus was raised from the dead and was seen by many disciples. And a few weeks later at Pentecost, the disciples empowered by the Holy Spirit, came out of hiding into public view in Jerusalem and "came out" as followers of this risen Son of God, sharing their Good News with everyone there.
Many people, particularly Anglicans perhaps, find it easier to lead a Christian life than to talk about it. They were nurtured by Christian parents in the fellowship of the Church. They were baptised as infants and confirmed as teenagers; they were publicly enrolled in the Church at Baptism and they publicly declared their faith at Confirmation. They saw themselves as always having been a Christian; there was no, sudden, Damascus Moment conversion; they "walked the walk" but reserve and shyness perhaps held them back from "talking the talk". On the other hand, many people who have not had the benefit of Christian nurture, when they hear the Good News, decide quickly that this is for them and make their Christian confession. They remember the date, time and place of this, and the effect it has had on their lives; they are eager to share their new found faith with others.
However it is that a person comes to faith, all are called by Christ to "go and make disciples, baptising them and teaching them"; to BOTH "walk the walk" AND "talk the talk"; to "come out" of the shell that is preventing them and to declare their Christianity in every possible way.
Have you “come out” yet?
Ken 9th April 2014
NOTE - Previous "Monthly Messages" are archived at http://glencairn.connor.anglican.org/previousmessages.htm