Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
To hear your voice
To listen deeply to your word.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear your voice,
To follow you in all of life,
In the way of God’s gracious reality.
Second Sunday after Pentecost
This week the good news of the gospel comes to us through the trust of a Roman centurion. He has a slave who is dying, but he hears about Jesus – one who has authority over physical and spiritual illness. So he sends some Jewish elders to ask Jesus to come and heal his slave. When the centurion hears that Jesus is coming, he has second thoughts. Authority is something this Roman military commander understands: he also stands under authority, and the soldiers under him obey his commands. Because of his great respect for this Jesus whom he has never met, but whom he knows to possess authority beyond anything he has known, he now sends friends to Jesus with a message: “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof: therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I am also a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.”
Obedience to the command of authority: this he knows. And this knowing becomes faith; trust in this the authority of this Jesus to heal the servant who is dying. Simple trust. Rock solid faith.
When Jesus hears his request, he is amazed. He turns to the crowd following him and says, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”
It is this same deep and trusting faith that we see at work in Elijah as he stands beside the altar upon Mount Carmel. He has called on the people of Israel to consider where they stand: “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” (I Kings 18:21,22) The people watch and listen as the priests of Baal first prepare a bull for sacrifice on the altar they have built, then limp around the altar, calling on their god to send fire to burn the sacrifice.
Midday passes; still they cry to Baal. The priests cut themselves. Bleeding, they continue to limp around their altar for more than two hours longer, “but there was no voice, no answer, no response.: (1 Kings 18:29)
Then Elijah calls all the people, “Come closer to me”; and they come. After repairing the altar of the Lord, he prepares a bull for sacrifice to Jahweh, then asks that the altar, the wood on the altar, and the sacrifice be drenched with water. It is 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the time of prayer and sacrifice. Elijah stands still beside the altar and prays:
O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”
Then the fire of the LORD fell, and the people fell on their faces and said,
“The LORD indeed is God; the LORD indeed is God.” (I Kings 18:30-39)
Elijah too lives under authority: “God in Israel, . . . I am your servant, and . . . I have done all these things at your bidding.” This same God will show his authority and power –
In response to Elijah’s prayer . . . so that the people will know “that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” A shift in trust – from limping between two opinions to bowing before God in faith and worship.
Paul the apostle also calls the believers in churches in Galatia to return to the true gospel. He too is a servant of Jesus Christ, and the gospel he proclaims and which they had believed, was no human invention. “I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ,” Paul declares as he goes on to write of his own experience of turning away from a life of violent persecution of the church, to becoming a follower of this Jesus and being obedient to the call to proclaim him among the Gentiles.
We are invited this week to reflect on whether we limp between various opinions, or whether we choose to stand before the One who has called us to know and follow Jesus – and to be his servant, so that others may also turn and know him.
Second Sunday after Pentecost
5/27 Monday: Luke 7:1-10
5/28 Tuesday: Luke 7:1-10
5/29 Wednesday: Psalm 96
5/30 Thursday: 1 Kings 18:20-39
5/31 Friday: Galatians 1:1-12
6/1 Saturday: Luke 7:1-10
6/2 Sunday: Luke 7:1-10