March 20, 2019
by Kim Goddard
March 20 – Luke 13:22-31
The Cotton Patch Gospel, is a musical based on a retelling of the gospels, imagining Jesus’ life and ministry occurring in Georgia in the mid 1900’s. In 2010, Mafair UMC performed The Cotton Patch Gospel for Kingsport’s Annual Funfest, and was later invited to present it at Annual Conference. As pastor at Mafair at that time I saw many of the practices and all of the performances, and one scene, one line, challenges and disturbs me still.
Jesus met Matthew at the I.R.S. office when Jesus went to file his taxes. A confusing conversation followed as Jesus tried to explain he had no income to report, no house, no personal property. He mostly went around talking to friends and healing the sick and didn’t ask for payment. No, he wasn’t a doctor, but he was in the family business, working for his father who happened to be God. At that point Matthew jumped up from his table and shouted, “Now you listen to me! This is serious business! I can have you arrested!”
Jesus calmly responded, “Don’t get so upset. Calm down. Hey, I got an idea!” Then Jesus stood, slammed his hands down on the table, looked Matthew straight in the eyes and said . . . “LIVE. MY. LIFE.”
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus paints a picture of what living his life looks like. “Put your mind on your life with God. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires your total attention. A lot of you are going to assume that you’ll sit down to God’s salvation banquet just because you’ve been hanging around the neighborhood all your lives. Well, one day you’re going to be banging on the door, wanting to get in, but you’ll find the door locked and the Master saying, ‘Sorry, you’re not on my guest list.” (Msg)
Jesus makes it clear, the way of the disciple, the way of salvation, is more than simply knowing or reciting a set of do’s and don’ts. It is more than “hanging around the neighborhood” in the sanctified places of worship in our Sunday best. Jesus invites us, calls us, challenges us to action by imitating him . . . LIVE. MY. LIFE.
Prayer: Oh, Holy Jesus. You give me the same simple offer you gave Matthew, and I am undone by both its power and its possibility. Help me today to live your life. Move me from comfort in my own righteousness, to a thirst for right living that finds its only true model in you. Move me out of the familiar neighborhood, following you to the places and to the people I often find hardest to love. Mold me until my heart’s desire and your kingdom are one and the same. Matthew, the I.R.S. agent, had it right. This IS serious business. So Jesus, give me your courage and boldness to step out. AMEN.