Pentecost 5 A 2023 Sermon Whoever Welcomes You Welcomes Me
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Whoever welcomes you welcomes me. What if Jesus showed up at your door and rang the doorbell. Would you welcome Jesus in? Would you recognize Jesus? Or would you shout out “Go away and leave me alone.”
I think we often think that if Jesus were to show up at our doorstep, we would recognize Him immediately. And that we would welcome Jesus with open arms and offer Jesus something to drink and some food.
After all, good food and drink make for good company and good conversation. And all four of our Gospel accounts informs us that Jesus liked to eat.
But what if Jesus showed up and the cupboards were bare? What if Jesus showed up and the beds were not made, and dirty dishes filled the sink? Would you still welcome the King of Kings into your home?
I bet you would think long and heard before you would invite Jesus into your home. After all, our homes are not always the perfect place to invite someone as important as Jesus.
In a perfect world, our homes would be neat and tidy all the time. The laundry would always be done. And the dishes would always be stacked clean neatly in the cupboard. And the stain of sin would not be present in our lives.
But we do not live in a perfect world. And our reality does not always match how we think things should be. And we get caught off-guard occasionally. And when we do, we do not always see things the way we should see them.
Thankfully, God did not send Jesus to us to find us living in a perfect world. No. God sent Jesus to us because we do not live in a perfect world.
And His birth, life, and ministry in our world meant more than spending time with us in a home that has been cleaned and sanitized and has everything in its proper place.
So, what does it mean to welcome Jesus? And what does it mean to welcome a prophet? And what is a prophet’s reward for such a welcome? Well, to answer these questions, we must know what a prophet is and what a prophet does.
First off, a prophet is not a fortune teller. A prophet does not gaze upon a crystal ball and predict the future. And a prophet does not turn over a card and catch a glimpse of some future event.
No, a prophet is a truth teller. A prophet announces God’s Word in God’s voice. A prophet speaks God’s truth to others. A prophet addresses contemporary issues while also revealing details about the future God has in store for us.
Take Isaiah’s ministry for example. Isaiah touched on both the present and the future. He spoke boldly against the corruption of his day (Isaiah 1:4) and delivered grand visions of the future of Israel. (Isaiah 25:8) And because he did these things, he was despised, and his message went unheeded. And so, he described the (his) nation as a bunch of “rebellious people, and deceitful children, who were unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction.” Isaiah 30:9-10
The people wanted to hear pleasant things. The people wanted a pat on the back. The people wanted to hear that because they were Good, God-Fearing Folks, God would bless them continuously.
The people could not accept the truth. The people could not accept that they had sinned and had gone astray. The people had forgotten the fact that when we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Because the nation of Israel could not see the consequences of the sin in their lives, they did not treat the prophets very well. So, when Jesus speaks about “a prophet’s reward,” He is not speaking about a generous compensation package.
No, Jesus Himself lamented: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Matthew 23:37
Humanity does not like to see things as they really are. And humanity does not always want to live as God would have us live. And humanity does not always welcome God’s prophets into their world.
But hear this. Jesus said: “Whoever welcome you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the One who sent me.” In other words, the one who welcomes another in Christ’s name, welcomes the Son and the Father who sent the Son.
And the Good News is this. When we welcome Christ, Christ is no longer the guest. He becomes our host. And because He is now our host, He bestows upon us the forgiveness of all our sins and the gift of New Life.
As I reflect upon this, I am drawn back to the story concerning the first Easter evening. You know the text, where two disciples are walking home from Jerusalem, confused and disappointed in the way things had turned out. Suddenly a stranger joins them, and the stranger explains to them how scripture taught that the Messiah must suffer and die. And that as He spoke these words, the disciples felt as if their hearts were on fire within their chests.
Wanting to hear more, they invite Jesus to stay with them and share a meal with them. And the most astounding thing happened. This guest, this stranger, took the role of host and broke the bread for them. And suddenly the disciples recognize Him, and then Jesus vanishes from their sight. Luke 24:13-35
When we welcome Jesus, Jesus welcomes us. And when Jesus welcomes us, we are welcomed into His Father’s house to dwell in God’s Holy presence forever. And that, my friends, is one great prophet’s reward.
When we gather at the Lord’s table, we receive the gifts that God so freely wants to bestow upon us, through His Redeeming Activity, so we then can go and share these gifts with all the people that we meet each day.
And so, I ask you again “What if Jesus showed up at your doorstep and rang the doorbell. Would you welcome Jesus in? Would you recognize Jesus? Or would you shout out “Go away and leave me alone.”
I hope we all would answer “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest. And let these gifts to us be blessed. Amen.”
Let us pray: God our redeemer, you have delivered us from death in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and brought us to new life by the power of your Spirit. Give us grace to keep our promises to praise and serve you all the days of our lives. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.