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Empathy

Summary: We can learn a lot from Jesus’ response to death and suffering. Just two words show how Jesus dealt with tragedy.

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Yesterday in Manchester, England a man walked into a large performance venue as fans – many of them young women – were leaving a pop concert. He detonated a bomb, killing 22 people, himself, and injured over 50 more. Among the victims were many young people, and at least one child. It’s a heartbreaking tragedy.

There are so many ways to respond. We could assign blame: Who did this, and why? We can prescribe action: How can we keep this from happening again? It’s as if we think we can defeat evil on our own, if we just put the right plan in motion.

We can learn a lot from Jesus’ response to death and suffering. Just one verse – two words – show how Jesus dealt with tragedy.

Jesus wept.

That verse is often cited alone, as the shortest verse in the Bible. But it’s only part of the story:

[T]he Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

It’s as powerful an image as there is in all of Scripture: God Himself, incarnate… weeping for a friend. A friend he could have kept from dying.  A loss that left everyone asking the same question we ask now: “Why?”

We can learn from Jesus’ example. Before he offered an explanation, before he ran to a solution, before he raised Lazarus to life, he cried.  He cried. He cried for the people he loved. He cried with them. Out of his own pain, and empathy, he cried.

Today, may we all make space to grieve with those who lost their children, their beloved, to senseless tragedy. Not just in a moment’s thought, but with intention. With prayer. And with tears.

"Only Believe" - Jairus' Story

Summary: Pastor Bryan's Palm Sunday sermon was a dramatic retelling of the Gospel from the perspective of Jairus, who's mentioned in several of the books of the New Testament.

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The story of Jairus and his daughter is told in three of the gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  And it’s told pretty much just as you’ll hear it in the video below.  The fact that it’s recorded three times, and that his name is mentioned, suggests that he was known to the early church, and had become a follower of Jesus.

Now, there’s nothing in Scripture to suggest that Jairus was there at the cross.  That part of this dramatic retelling was imaginary.  But what if he had been there?  He would have had a very different perspective than the average person standing beside a fresh grave. 

Jairus knew what it was like to have his heart broken by the death of a child.  He knew what it was like to have his dreams crushed by circumstances he couldn’t control.   He knew what it was like to have his faith called into question; to find himself doubting not only the power of prayer, but the very character of God.  Is He really there?  Is He good?  Can He be trusted?

And chances are you’ve come to moments like that, as well.  “There’s something about death that traps you,” this character says.  Death catches us by surprise, and won’t let go.  We don’t know how to escape its haunting presence.  Death is at the heart of all our fears, and disappointments, and doubts.  And it always seems to win. 

But Jairus knew that death didn’t always have the last word.  Jairus knew that you could be afraid, and believe, at the same time.  He knew that you could doubt, and still follow.   

Do you know that?  Are you able to trust God with your dreams, and your doubts, and even death? Because in the end that’s what it’s about.  Not being  good.  Not being religious.  Just trusting God, with everything. 

If Jairus' story resonates with you, or even touches too close to home--I want to encourage you that Jesus meets us--as he did Jairus-- in real, hard life. He meets people in hospital rooms, and graveyards. He doesn't keep to the places where life is tidy.  

One awful, wonderful day changed Jairus’ life.  And one awful, wonderful week changed the course of history.  Will you dare to follow Jesus into this holy week, just as Jairus followed Jesus home that day, not knowing what was going to happen? 

On Easter Sunday – Resurrection Morning, as we celebrate the greatest news the world has ever heard – Jairus’ words are as true and meaningful as the day he first spoke them.

Don’t be afraid.  Only believe. 

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