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Piel: Did Jesus own His own house? | RELIGION COMMENTARY

Our neighbor George recently joined a group of pastors and Christian education workers dealing with the confirmation of young people. He said there were about nine youths in the study group. In the youth session they apparently asked a lot of questions. George said the best ones were, “did Jesus ever disobey his mother?” and “did Jesus ever say I don’t want to go to church today?” But the most interesting was “did Jesus ever own his own house?”

We know that Jesus, his mother and father and his brothers lived in Nazareth. We assume in their own home. But around the age of 30 (his father had apparently died) he left his family home and began his ministry.

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During those three years there is no indication that he ever owned his own house. Apparently he traveled around with his disciples maybe sleeping and eating when he was invited in. Or, maybe they just camped out in the open. We know he had a lot of followers so maybe many extended the invitation for a meal or a bed.

For George, the “real point” is that Jesus’ home was among people. He lived with them. He suffered with them. He laughed with them. He knew them. He challenged them. Most important, he loved them. He loved them to the point that he would put his life on the line for them.

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It reminds me of a passage in Revelation (21.3) “See, the home of God is among the mortals, He will dwell with them, and they will be his people and God himself will be with them.” Jesus is called “Emmanuel” meaning “always with us.”

Go back to the “real point” for a moment. Jesus never owned a house but he did have a home! The home of Jesus was in the midst of people. It follows then that if we are to respond to his call to “follow me” we need to make our home where Jesus made his home — in the midst of people! His call to “follow me” is really a challenge to “walk in the dust of our rabbi” and to take seriously “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14.15).

Jesus lived and ministered to many kinds of people. That is almost impossible for many of us today. While Jesus challenges us (even commands us) to “widen our circle” we all too often would rather associate with those who think like us, look like us, talk like us, worship like us, even vote like us. Being comfortable may make us feel good but it may be far away from the challenge from Jesus to love all kinds of people. To make matters worse in our society today those on the outside of our circle are often seen as our enemy. Why even try to dialogue with those we feel who are out to destroy our lives, our faith, our country, our religion? We are right and they are always wrong.

Several times George has mentioned that Christ-followers are called to live in the “midst of the people.” What does that mean? For us it means that we are called to be healers. In the name of God’s eternal love we are called to bring people together. All kinds of people. People we love. People we don’t. God draws the circle and it is bigger than we can imagine.

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We cannot claim credit for the healing process. It comes from God’s uniting Spirit. It began when the wind of God blew at creation and blew again at Pentecost. Where the Tower of Babel represents people at their worse Pentecost represents people at their best. All the time we recognize that the healing power of God is with us. Healing us and those we minister to. The life changing power of Pentecost may come from above but it is the power in our midst changing us here on the earth.

Healing also recognizes that we must experience the joy and the pain others are going through. Jesus was able to do that. In “The Servant Song” it goes “I will weep when you are weeping, when you laugh I’ll laugh with you. I will share your joy and sorrow till we’ve seen this journey through.” It reminds us of the words of the Apostle Paul “if one member suffers, all suffer with it, if one member is honored all rejoice together with it.”

On patient halls at Carroll Hospital are “No Pass Zone” signs. When “help is needed” a blinking light comes on over a patient’s room. Those on the staff are called to do several things. First, stop. Second, find out what the problem is. Third, find help to solve the problem. The “No Pass Zone “sign should be our sign. Those of us who are called to be healers don’t pass on the other side. We respond to the need even if we aren’t the final answer.

In his familiar prayer that some of us say all of the time (often without thinking or meaning), Jesus said “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We are called to bring God’s kingdom of justice, peace, hope and goodwill to earth. To take his words seriously means they are not only for me but I am called to put them into action politically, economically and socially. There is a danger here (so be careful) because his effort to create a world of love led him to the cross.

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Did Jesus have a house? Our Holy Scriptures remind us that there is a vast difference between a house and a home. No, he did not have a house. He had a home. And that home was among people. That was his mission. We are called, even challenged to follow in his footsteps.

Let the dialogue continue. We only ask that you think on these things.

The Rev. Dr. Wm. Louis “Lou” Piel is pastor of Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Finksburg and can be reached at julo1@verizon.net.


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