O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Peace for the Overwhelmed
Peace for the Overwhelmed - Based on the Passion Narrative
Preached on April 9, 2017
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Fellow baptized saints, Jesus entered Jerusalem with Hosannas, but that quickly went south. You entered the doors of the church today, and just like Jesus, you brought all sorts of things in here along with you. Things nobody talks about. Things you don’t want to talk about. Things you don’t even realize you’re bringing. How are you doing today? Is your heart at rest? Or are you a little overwhelmed?
It’s not really a question is it? Not in our fast-paced, high-demand, hyper communicating world. Your heart would never get a chance to rest if it was up to the world. No, the human heart is a restless heart – super tired – but still restless.
And it does something to a person, doesn’t it? Have you ever noticed yourself getting numb? Think about all the evil that goes into your eyes everyday. The things you hear. The endless troubles trying to push past your senses and into your heart. Violence, corruption, abuse of power, self-indulgence. It’s too much. Either you want to shut your eyes and ears to it – just bury your head in the ground. Or you want throw your hands up in the air and say, what’s the point? What does it even matter anyway? Yes, you would think the continuous trouble would put us on alert – make us more vigilant for good – but it doesn’t. All the evil wears us down – we hear it and hear it and hear it – and after a while it becomes more and more difficult to care – we just can’t lean into it anymore – we have to back off – stop caring – numb ourselves – and in most cases we don’t even realize we’re doing it – we are simply overwhelmed.
And you probably think I’m talking about the constant barrage of bad news on the radio and television. I’m not. Certainly, that is bad enough. But I’m talking about your day to day life – the people you know and the things you are involved in – pain, loss, sorrow, brokenness – I’m talking about truly caring about the people in our families, our society – our congregation. Let’s face it. With all the things we face during the week – it can be hard to come to church and care about the people around us – it can be hard to truly care about our Christian family, because we are totally overwhelmed ourselves.
Today, Jesus is suffering. And we could be tempted to view Jesus’ sufferings the same way. Just more evil. What’s the point? Especially when His suffering is the most profound. The greatest injustice. The greatest betrayal. The most pain and sorrow. We are tempted to turn away – to become overwhelmed – to receive it numbly.
Beloved – wake up – lift your eyes – and watch – what Jesus is doing is totally different. This is not another example of evil in the world. This is the true God taking matters into His own hands – confronting the evil – yes- it is the darkest – it is the most overwhelming – it is the most troubling – but this is that moment you need – the moment your heart meets something different than all the rest of the garbage. Evil being opposed with love – bright, radiant light shining in the darkest darkness – someone who truly cares for all humanity, doing what needs to be done to set things right.
Does the evil in this world trouble you? Then set your eyes here. Does it bother you – that you’ve become numb, apathetic, lukewarm? Then take a look. There is One who really cares. There is One who is really doing something about it. But your eyes don’t expect what they see. This is not how you would deal with evil. But there He is – the Holy One – God in our human flesh – riding into the evil Himself like a helpless humble lamb.
What is God doing here? Surely setting up an earthly government of power. No! He comes for evil. All the evil. He comes to suffer it. Take it into His own body. Destroy it. By destroying Himself. This is about saving humanity from itself. He suffers as a man – like you and me.
It started in the garden. Jesus spoke important words to His friends – and they fell asleep. The officials came and arrested Jesus - and His friends ran away. One of them betrayed Him into the hands of those who hated Him. He was beaten by the police before He reached His trial. And when He was physically forced into a kangaroo court – He was found guilty of being the Son of God. Both the power of Religion and the power of the State saw this dirt poor, humble, teacher-healer as a threat so they sentenced Him to death. And for all of it they mocked Him and humiliated Him and enjoyed His pain.
Pain. You know pain – you know how when it strikes it commands your full attention – it immediately becomes your focus – and you do anything you can - to end it – Not with Christ. Jesus pushed Himself into the pain, because there was something more important that commanded His full attention. Something more important to Him that was resolutely in His focus – something He had to end – the pain in your heart. The restlessness. The apathy. The emptiness. In the midst of His inordinate pain of body and soul – You were His focus. (slow) His place - in your heart - was His goal - in this pain. He rode Himself right into that pain in your heart. Into every evil that troubles you - He went willingly. Not by force. But gently. Humbly. Peacefully. He really cares. And He is really doing something about it.
His disciples didn’t do anything. There they were in the garden. Jesus had told them He would be betrayed. One of the disciples is oddly missing – yet can they stay awake and watch? They should be totally alert – but they are asleep. They care – but they don’t care. No, not a lot has changed in two thousand years. Us disciples still struggle with the same things – but our Lord is still the One who cares.
You see, you are not saved because you care. You are saved because Christ cares about you and put your apathy to death in His own body. He was willing to have nobody care about Him – to make Himself meaningless – in order for you to know true meaning.
Beloved, Jesus is meaning. He alone can fill your heart and give you rest. He is the meaning of your life. Your suffering is not in vain. It is not meaningless – none of the evil is – for He has put Himself in it – He has brought meaning back to us – God has made humanity meaningful again but joining us in our flesh – our suffering – our apathy – our emptiness – and filling it up with His own goodness.
Your heart was created to be full – full of God , full of His good. Nothing else can fill His spot. He is what your heart needs. Fling wide the gates of your heart before this king who enters in. Cry Hosanna – save me – as He rides into your heart this day with goodness and righteousness and humility against all the evil of the world! In He rides to take victory over the evil, the apathy, the exhaustion, the tiredness, the overwhelmingness – He is bigger than these things – and He is their antidote.
Your King comes with gifts. A new heart and something to really care about – something worth while – something that ultimately means something – no matter what the sacrifice -something that makes a real difference – a faith difference – a difference made by faith in this suffering King. Christ makes you care again. For the people beside you in the pews. For people who are suffering – because you know it isn’t meaningless. Yes, even for people who don’t care about you – who abandon you – who betray you. Christ cares for and moves you to care for these people too.
When Christ enters your heart anew this Palm Sunday – He brings His caring heart with Him – in mercy and goodness He takes His place on the throne of your heart – and there sets up a new kingdom – a new rule for your heart – that you care again – as you know you want to, but didn’t have the power to – He is the power you needed. Jesus is the power to care – because what He has done is for all humanity – He is the new humanity and He has entered your heart and made it His own.
All glory, laud and honor to You Redeemer King – to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas sing. For your humble mercy has looked on our troubled hearts – come and entered into us – and made them cry out sweet hosannas – yes, you’ve made them sing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr