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07.11.21 Seeing Through Jesus’ Eyes Matthew 19.1-12 Sermon Summary

by on July 12, 2021

OPENING INTENTION

The Bible says that at the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and everything in between. God created the light and the darkness, which includes the dusk and the dawn. God created the sea and the dry land, which includes beaches and coral reefs. God created flying birds and swimming fish, which includes swimming penguins and leaping dolphins. 

The Bible says that at the beginning, God created humankind in God’s image, male and female God created them. 

Today we celebrate the diversity of God’s creation, and give thanks for God’s abundant love. Let us come and worship this God of the Bible, who welcomes young and old and everyone in between. Who welcomes human and insect and all that is in between. Who welcomes believer and doubter and all who are in between. Who welcomes male and female and all who are in between. 

You, whoever you are, have a place here. For we are God’s people, the sheep of God’s pasture. 

SERMON: Seeing Through Jesus’ Eyes

Here are two characteristics about humanity in general: (1) We prefer easier to more difficult; (2) We don’t like fear or confusion. These two characteristics cause our brains to wire in a specific way early in our lives. Jesus calls us to rewire. 

Later in life most people learn to choose difficulty over ease and to challenge fear or confusion. But early on, in order to facilitate our survival, our brain wires itself to see opposite pairs. This makes decision-making easier. Two alternatives are easier to manage than three or more.

This is why we make lists: Pros and cons, dos and don’ts, wrongs and rights. It’s why we see things as my way vs. your way, our interests vs. their interests, and that one person’s loss is another one’s gain. Neuroscientists call this “binary thinking.” It is natural, it develops early on, and it is necessary for survival.

But God wants us to do more than survive. God wants us to thrive. Jesus doesn’t just lead us to life. He leads us to abundant life. Jesus calls us beyond binary thinking. He does so because that’s where he resides.

Jesus resides beyond the binaries. Here is a Jew who is inclusive of Gentiles. Here is a Rabbi who teaches women. Here is a human who bears the divine image. If we see only believer or non-believer, knowledgeable or ignorant, man or God, we won’t see Jesus. 

Jesus challenged the binary thinking of the woman at the well, saying, “God is not worshipped on this mountain or that mountain, but in Spirit.” And of the tradition about Law: “Law isn’t about acting this way or that way but about loving God and neighbor.” And of the Pharisees who asked him about marriage and divorce, when he makes his comments about eunuchs.

The Pharisees have asked him about the application of a specific law. Jesus redirected their attention to love. It is more difficult to love. It is easier to walk away. In response to the Pharisees question about marriage and divorce, Jesus urges the hard work of love. 

He lifts up eunuchs as examples. Extraordinary! Here’s how the Bible defines “eunuchs”: “No one whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off shall be admitted to the assembly of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 23:1) In other words, anyone whose sexual identifiers are ambiguous is left out.

The biblical authors didn’t know about gender or sexual orientation or the concept of self-identification. Thus the Bible is largely binary, beginning with the very first chapter where Creation occurs by separating opposites: Morning and evening, light and darkness, water and dry land. And later chapters and books oppose the righteous and the unjust, the wise and the foolish, and Israel and the nations. 

Running throughout the Bible is a fundamental binary of male and female. If you are ambiguous, if you don’t fit in the binary, you are excluded from the community.

This fundamental binary is obvious to the biblical writers, but Jesus sees more. How does he see more? Jesus looks at the eunuch who is supposed to be a male but yet not a male, and he sees a person, a being capable of loving God.

Jesus looks past the fundamental binary and sees something even more fundamental. He sees past the ambiguity to the person made in God’s image.

Why does Jesus see this where others do not? It is because he brings the messianic age envisioned by Isaiah.

“Thus says the LORD: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed. Do not let the foreigner joined to the LORD say, ‘The LORD will surely separate me from his people.’ And do not let the eunuch say, ‘I am just a dry tree.” For thus says the LORD: to the eunuchs who choose the things that please me and hold fast to my covenant, I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than the sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah 56:1-6)

Remember how we prefer easier to more difficult, and don’t like fear and confusion? Life would be a lot easier, and would require less courage, if the world were truly binary. If ostriches could fly like other birds. If rain only watered the earth without flooding it. If fire just warmed us and cooked our food without consuming our houses. But then we wouldn’t see the world as Isaiah envisioned it: A household of God expansive enough to welcome and include foreigners and eunuchs.

Life would be a lot easier, and would require less courage, if reality was truly binary. If obedience to the Law determined justice. If the absence of war was the definition of peace. If God was transcendent and wholly other. But then we wouldn’t see God as Jesus does. It’s only after Jesus that we had to create the concept and invent the word “Trinity.”

Life would be a lot easier, and would require less courage, if life was truly binary. If male and female was all there was. If marriage was a matter of like and dislike, or determined by the presence or absence of a certificate. If Eunuchs didn’t exist.

But then, worst of all, we wouldn’t see what Jesus sees: A fellow human as a child of God, as sibling, as a partner, as a friend. Seeing the Eunuch through Jesus’ eyes isn’t the easier way. It can be fearful and confusing. It takes hard work and courage. But that’s where Jesus is, where Jesus reveals God. It’s where Isaiah saw it all going. It’s where Jesus wants us to follow him.

And so as Jesus said, “Let anyone accept this who can.”

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