First Acts

The Gospel Reading is Matthew 5:1-12.

What was the first thing you did when you first publicly met Jesus? For me, I probably giggled, laughed, and spit up since I was a baby who was just baptized. In our baptism, we are washed with water united in God’s promises. We are sealed with the cross of Christ. In our baptism, we meet Christ in a very public way. So, as a baby, my first act after meeting Jesus wasn’t probably the most dignified action. But it was at least authentically me.

Today’s reading from Matthew is Jesus’ first detailed public act of ministry. Matthew tells us how Jesus traveled around Galilee, preaching, teaching, and healing others. Word soon spreads and crowds start to gather around Jesus. As the numbers grow, Jesus escapes up a mountain. His disciples follow. Jesus stops escaping and settles in with his disciples, offering his long Sermon on the Mount. Rev. Karoline Lewis writes in Working Preacher that Matthews takes Jesus’ teaching ministry and discipleship seriously. The first public act of Jesus’ ministry in each gospel helps to illustrate what part of Jesus each gospel writer felt inspired to share. For Matthew, a disciple follows Jesus by being “the consummate student, a learner.”

Discipleship is more than believing in Jesus. Discipleship involves learning. Jesus invites us to be life-long learners. This, at first glance, sounds like an obvious thing to say. But in practical terms, being a life-long learner with Jesus is hard to do. Most of us are over busy. Our schedules can barely fit all the things we need to do. It seems impossible to add one more thing to our days. How can Jesus ask us to add one more thing to our already overloaded to-do list?

But maybe we shouldn’t look at this learning as just one more thing to do. What Jesus is bringing is an opportunity. A relationship with Jesus is something we can never exhaust. We can never fully cross Jesus off our to-do list because Jesus never crosses us off of his. Through the gift of faith, we are connected to to the creator of the universe who is the source of everything. And that God has decided that you matter and you have value. To learn with Jesus is to learn how God sees us and how we can see the world like God does. And to see how God sees is to be just the kind of disciple this world needs.

Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for 1/29/2017.