What a strange word, confounding. I was intentional when I titled the four Lenten Sermons from the gospel of John, because his portrayal of Jesus is confounding. By definition, to confound is to surprise or confuse. Certainly, both of those elements are in play when Jesus encounters folks in this gospel.
Last week, Nicodemus was certainly confused when Jesus instructed that he must be born again and above (time and place) if he wanted to enter the Kingdom of God. As with many encounters with Jesus, John has people confuse the literal for the figurative, the physical with the spiritual. The only relief comes for Nicodemus as Jesus explains that spiritual is of the spirit while flesh is of the flesh. Well, that certainly straightens thing out, doesn’t it? Nicodemus, the Pharisee, is surprised to learn that he must unlearn some things he thought he knew about God to receive the message of the Kingdom of God as delivered by Jesus. In Jesus’ kingdom, one becomes king by being “lifted up.” That is, by crucifixion. Nicodemus has to begin getting his head around the fact that Jesus is God’s son, sent by God, through love, to be a sacrifice, healing the nations. Nothing confounding there, eh?
We too have to unlearn some stuff as it pertains to the Kingdom of God. Who’s in? Who’s out? What are the entrance requirements? Will there be a test?
This Sunday, Jesus encounters a woman who, by any cultural standard of the day would be out of the Kingdom. Yet Jesus, defying mores of his time and place, invites her to be a part of the Kingdom. When she returns to the village where she is at best a person at the margin, she is heard as she speaks about Jesus. Others believe. Imagine, a person barely visible effectively carries the message of Jesus to the very people who disrespect her. Talk about confounding!
Saturday, our Hospitality Ministry meets at 10:00 a.m. Our Lenten Study continues at 9:15 a.m. Sunday.
We will continue to be confounded by Jesus as we move with him toward Jerusalem, through Palm Sunday, and Holy Week, all culminating on Easter Morning. Please, come and see. He cannot be the promised Messiah, can he?
See you Sunday,