The Renegade Gospel: Seeing Jesus Today
Rev. Sandy Johnson
March 18, 2018
Last summer JJ and I packed up our new trailer for our first inaugural vacation in our new RV. We were heading out of town, driving south on US95 when a light came on the Jeep, “Transmission overheating.” Rut ro! What is that?! We pulled over and waited for it to cool down a bit, but knew that we couldn’t continue on, we would have to turn around, and put our vacation on hold while we figured out what we were going to do.
I was not happy to say the least. I was ready to go and I was super frustrated that we had to turn around, and limp back to our house. The Jeep was just not going to pull our trailer. While we were driving back, I got on my phone and began to look for trucks for sale in Henderson that would be within our budget and would pull our trailer.
We found two trucks that would fit the bill. One had the towing package, so our decision made itself. Just three hours later, we were back on the road…problem solved! We looked pretty spiffy driving in our 2010 red Ford F150! We were riding in style. Then we started to notice there were a bunch of red Ford F150’s on the road. We had never noticed them before, and there they were, seemingly everywhere. Has that ever happened to you? It’s funny that we tend to see what we expect, or what we choose to focus on. There is great power in expectation.
“In our scripture this morning, Jesus told a parable of ten virgins who are standing with their lamps outside at night awaiting the arrival of a wedding procession. In biblical times, that procession traditionally would travel from the bride’s home to the new husband’s.
In the parable, Christ is the awaited bridegroom. Jesus noted that five of the women were foolish and five wise. The foolish women had their lamps but had failed to bring enough oil for them. The wise women were fully stocked with both. Because the groom’s arrival was delayed, the waiting women became drowsy and fell asleep. We can read this as an indictment of today’s church, which also has become drowsy and has fallen asleep awaiting Christ’s return.
“Jesus continued the parable in verses 6 to 12:
6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’
“This parable of the bridesmaids is about the power of expectation. If we want to see the bridegroom, if we want to see and experience Jesus today, we need to seek him expectantly and actively. The bottom line is that you will find Jesus only if you are looking for him. The power of expectation means that you find what you are looking for.”
When I traveled to Israel with Chey and Jennifer, we went to a site called “Tel Megiddo, a place of great historical significance since it guarded a narrow pass and trade route connecting Assyria and Egypt and it was the site of several ancient battles. Megiddo was inhabited from approximately 7000 to 586 B.C.”
As we trampled around on the site it appeared the area was covered in age old dusty rocks. But “in truth, some of these “rocks” are actually shards of ancient pottery.” Our tour guide bent down numerous times and picked up shards that had I not know, I would never have seen. They were fragments which may have been there since the days of Abraham. The power of expectations. What are we looking for?
“This power of expectation is why Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8
7 “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
“In John 14:15-17, Jesus made a promise about experiencing Jesus in the here and now:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”
It’s important to notice that when Jesus was teaching his disciples, and us today, his modern-day disciples, he said he would leave us with an Advocate, the Holy Spirit. He didn’t say he’d leave us with the bible, instead he promises us that he will be with us through the Spirit. Now, I’m not saying don’t read your bible, but let’s be clear about what Jesus was offering us. A relationship with him, through the Holy Spirit.
“When Jesus walked Planet Earth, everyone could see him in the flesh – friends, followers and foes. We no longer have that opportunity. Now that Jesus’ physical presence is removed, the world can no longer see him, but we can. Those who are born of the Spirit are able to experience and see him today. When we ask, seek and knock in expectation, we find what we are looking for.”
“God will continue to turn your life upside down, especially when you become too comfortable or complacent. We must be prepared. When you get serious about Jesus Christ and your life mission, he will completely mess up your life along with any preconceived notions you may have about how things are supposed to be.
But, in this very disruption, it is also how you meet, experience, and follow Jesus in the world today.
“One reason so few of us encounter the living Jesus is that we have created a childlike storybook image of Jesus. We have made our faith pragmatic instead of revolutionary.”
“Where do we find Jesus today? He is not an otherworldly being to be sought out among the clouds. He has more to say about life, about us, about our mission than what we can read in the bible each day. We don’t have to retreat to a monastery or temple to find him.
The world is his temple; we are his temple. We experience Jesus when we live out his mission and listen attentively and expectantly to the voice of the Holy Spirit, the companion that Jesus promised will guide us into all truth and tell us what is to come (John 16:13).
“How do we experience Jesus today? Where do we see him? According to Jesus himself, we see him everywhere:
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
We all think we want to see God, but the Divine often shows up in places we least expect. We will see Jesus when, with an expectant heart, we take a walk on the sacrificial side and discover him in the everyday occurrences of life.”
“To see Christ today, we need to wake up, to stay alert, and stop wallowing in complacency, comfort and spiritual sleep. We need to remain connected to a community of fellow Jesus followers who will hold us accountable. Most of all, we need constantly to be aware of our dependence on God.
Jesus himself modeled this” on the night that Jesus was arrested he went to the Mount of Olives to pray. For Jesus, this wasn’t a one-time event, it was something he routinely did, taking time to be alone with God. It was his practice and it came in especially handy when things got tough.
“We can live in a vital relationship with the rebel Jesus today. We do not have to rely simply on the written word or ancient stories to sustain our faith and battle our doubts when the living Word is accessible right in this moment. It begins with the power of expectation.
We will find what we actively seek and hear, those times where we earnestly listen. It culminates in our life mission as servants and coworkers with a living and active Christ.
“As I close this message, my prayer for us all is the same as the one the Apostle Paul prayed for believers in Ephesus:
17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18 so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.
 This sermon series is inspired by the book of the same name by Mike Slaughter.
 Slaughter, Mike. Renegade Gospel. The Rebel Jesus. Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN. Page 79-80
 Ephesians 1:17-19