Items filtered by date: April 2018
22 April 2018

Luke 5:29-32

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

April 22, 2018


          The film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was released in 1967. It was Spencer Tracy’s last role. Katherine Hepburn won an Oscar for it. Sydney Poitier, on the other hand, wasn’t even nominated—I wonder why not? It’s the story of a black man and a white woman who fall in love and decide to get married. Both sets of parents strongly oppose the relation-ship (both fathers at any rate). But love is love, right? And—spoiler alert, here--love prevails in the end. But just to put this in context, in 1967 so-called “interracial marriage” was still illegal in 17 states. Who should marry whom, even who should come to dinner with whom, was a big deal in 1967. And in various ways, it still is in 2018. Guess who’s coming to dinner?


          Who’s at the table was certainly a big deal in Jesus’ time. Jesus had called a man named Levi—we know him as Matthew—to follow him and be one of his disciples. And this Levi was a tax collector. Now even today tax collectors don’t win many popularity contests. If you work for the IRS and someone asks what you do for a living, you probably learn to say, “Oh . . . I’m in collections,” or “I’m . . . an accountant.” You don’t say, “I’m responsible for taking a quarter of every dollar you earn and turning it over to the government to do things you don’t agree with.” No tax collector still isn’t up there with nurse or fire fighter in terms of popularity.

          But in Jesus’ day there was more to it. Tax collectors worked ultimately for the occupation Roman empire. They’d sold out to the enemy. The money they collected went to support the army that held them down. What’s more, they worked under a tax farming system. They were told how much they had to turn over to their Roman masters; anything they collected beyond that was theirs to keep. Tax collectors got rich cheating their own people. And of course Jewish tax collectors had daily interactions with Gentile Romans; therefore by Jewish law they were always ritually unclean—good Jews really weren’t supposed to be at table with them. Guess who’s coming to dinner?

          Actually, it’s even worse than that. It’s not that Jesus invited one random tax collector over to his house. It’s that Levi the tax collector, now Levi the disciple, had a banquet for all the tax collectors in town, and invited Jesus to eat with them. Also at the table, Luke says, were “sinners.” “Sinners” is a kind of technical term in the gospels. It doesn’t mean sinners in the sense of “Oh, we’re all sinners.” It means people who have been kicked out of the synagogue for notorious behavior. They may not be worse sinners than everyone else, but they’d got caught; they shocked and offended people. Guess who’s coming to dinner?

          Well, Jesus is coming to dinner. With the tax collectors and sinners. All at the same table. “I have come to call not the righteous,” he tells them, “but sinners.” That’s who’s coming to dinner.


          In verse 30, when the Pharisees complain about eating with tax collectors and sinners, they spoke not to Jesus directly, but to his disciples. They asked the disciples, “Why do you all eat with such people?” What this means, according to Bible commentaries, is that when Luke was writing his gospel, not just Jesus but the church—that is, Jesus’ disciples—was being criticized for its inclusive table fellowship. People were faulting the church for welcoming people who shocked them or made them uncomfortable.1 And the church defended itself by pointing to Jesus who not only welcomed all kinds of people to his table, but went himself and ate at the tables of all kinds of people.


          The evangelist, Tony Campolo, tells of arriving in Hawaii to preach at a conference. He went to bed but the time difference made him wake up at 3:00 am, desperately hungry. He got up and prowled the streets looking for a place to get breakfast in the middle of the night. The only place open was a grungy diner down an alley. He’s sitting at the counter about 3:30 when in walk eight or nine street-walkers, having just finished their night’s work. Tony admits he wasn’t entirely comfortable sitting with them, so he gulped his coffee to make a getaway. Right then the woman next to him announces to everyone: “You know what? Tomorrow’s my birthday. I’m gonna be 39.” To which one of the other women replied nastily, “So what d’ya want from me? A party? Ya want me to bake a cake and sing happy birthday?”

          “Aw, come on,” the first woman says, “you don’t have to be so mean. I’m just saying, it’s my birthday. I don’t want anything from you. Why should I have a party? I’ve never had a birthday party in my whole life.”

          Well, when Tony heard that, he had an idea. When the women had all left, he asked the guy at the counter, “Do they come here every night?”

          “Yeah, every night, about the same time.”

          “The one next to me, her too?”

          “Yeah, that’s Agnes. She’s come in here every night for years. Why do you want to know?”

          “Because she said tomorrow’s her birthday. What do you think? Could we could throw a little party for her here in the diner?”

          A smile came over the man’s grubby face. So they make their plans, and at 2:30 the next night Tony is back, with balloons and a sign that says, “Happy Birthday, Agnes!” The cook has enough cake and coffee for an army. And somehow word had got out. The whole diner was packed with streetwalkers.

          At 3:30 the door opens and in walks Agnes. Everyone shouts, “Surprise! Happy birthday, Agnes!” She’s flabbergasted, stunned. Agnes is crying so hard she can’t blow out the candles.

          Finally, Tony stands on a chair and says, “What do you say we pray together?” And there they are in that greasy spoon, half the prostitutes in Honolulu, at 3:30 am, listening as Rev. Tony Campolo prays for Agnes, her health, her safety, her family, her soul.

          Afterwards the diner guy comes over to Tony, with a trace of hostility, and says, “Hey, you never told me you was a preacher. What kind of church do you belong to anyway?”

          On the spur of the moment, Tony replied, “I belong to a church that throws birthday parties for prostitutes at 3:30 in the morning.”

          Diner guy ponders a moment and says, “No way. There ain’t no church like that. If there was, even I would join it.”2 With Jesus as our leader, guess who’s coming to dinner?

          Peter Storey, who was a Methodist bishop in South Africa during the struggle against apartheid, wrote a little book on the seven last words of Christ. When it comes to the story about Jesus hanging on the cross next to two criminals, Peter Storey writes, “Because he died as he lived, Jesus did not die . . . alone. His life had always been one of solidarity . . . with the least and lowest. . . We should not be surprised, then, that on the day of his dying, Jesus was once more in the company of those whom society had cast out. . . Some tell us,” Storey writes, “that following Jesus is a simple matter of inviting him into our hearts. But when we do that, Jesus always asks, ‘May I bring my friends?’ And when we look at them, we see that they are not the kind of company we try to keep. The friends of Jesus are the outcasts, the marginalized, the poor, the homeless, the neglected—the lepers of life. We hesitate and ask, ‘Jesus, must we really have them too?” Jesus replies, “Love me, love my friends.”3

          Guess who’s coming to dinner?


          When I was pastor at another church, I got to know a neighborhood teenager named Pat. Pat was rough guy—he said rude things to girls, he tried to bully other boys out of their money, he sold drugs on the side. He was also a natural-born leader. All the little boys followed him around like a mother duck. I figured if I could get him to use those leadership qualities for good instead of bad, we’d really have something. He came to our after-school basketball program, so every afternoon I invited him to church. And I invited him to church. For months I invited Pat to church. And then one day, out of the blue, he showed up. It was Communion Sunday, and he came right up front to receive the bread and the cup. Everybody saw him.

          After church two moms of teenage sons cornered me in the lobby. I figured they were going to chew me out for letting someone like Pat in the church. “Do you know who that guy is?” Ruth asked me.” “Yes,” I said, “that’s Pat. I know him.”

          “Do you know he’s tried to hurt both of our sons?” Mary asked.

          “No,” I said, “but I’m not surprised.” And I waited for them to tell me to kick him out, to tell him he’s not allowed in church. Ruth picked it up again. “We think it’s very important for him to be here in church,” she said. No one needs church more than Pat,” she said, “and we just wanted to make sure he’s welcome here.”

          “If you say so,” I said.

          “No, we don’t say so,” Mary added. “Jesus says so.” Guess who came to dinner?


          You know, here’s the thing: in the end, the only ones who will not be at Jesus’ table are the ones who refuse to come. Everyone’s welcome; but some of us don’t like the company. Do you remember the story of the Prodigal Son? When the son who’d wasted his inheritance on women and wine came home, the father threw a party and killed the fatted calf. Everyone was welcome at that party. The older brother—the good son, the honorable son . . . the resentful son—he too was welcome at that table. The only question was—would he come? The only question is--will we come?


          So far, more or less, we’ve looked at this Bible story from the perspective of the Pharisees, as respectable folks who are sometimes surprised by who’s coming to dinner at Jesus’ table. And usually that is my perspective on this story. After all, I clean up pretty nice, I pay my taxes, I try not to make a scene, I’m a preacher, for heaven’s sake. Frankly, I am welcome at most tables. But once in a while, I’m not. Or I get to feeling like I’m not. A few times, I’ve been rejected from people’s fellowship because of stands I’ve taken, because people disagree with me. “Don’t come to my table with those ideas,” they say, in effect. And sometimes, when I’m weary and discouraged, when I’ve let people down or not lived up to my own standards, I get to thinking they’re right. Maybe there’s not a place for me at the table, or maybe there shouldn’t be. And that’s when Jesus pulls out a chair and tells me to sit down. And when I object, when I say, “Oh Jesus, there are people who don’t want me at this table,” Jesus says, “Well, they’re just going to have to deal with it. Because this is my table, and you’re staying put.” And whom am I go argue with Jesus?


          So guess who’s coming to dinner? Levi the tax collector. A table full of sinners. A criminal on the cross. Jesus Christ. Agnes from Hawaii and Pat the bully. Oh, and there’s me. And then there’s you, should you decide to come.



1 Fred B. Craddock, Luke, Interpretation (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1990), 78. See also Ronald P. Byars, The Sacraments in Biblical Perspective (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 262.

2 See among other places, Accessed 4/12/18.

3 Peter Storey, Listening at Golgotha (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2004), 28-30.

08 April 2018

John 21:1-14

Come to the Table

April 8, 2018        Maple Grove UMC


          What a wonderful story. Of all the resurrection appearance stories in the Bible, this one is my favorite. There are just so many things we could go into. For example, when Peter says, “I’m going fishing,” he doesn’t mean what most of us might mean by that. For Peter, fishing isn’t a pleasant diversion, not a time to get away and clear his head, not a way to bond with his dad or son. When Peter says, “I’m going fishing,” he means that after the death of Jesus, he’s going back to his old life, the only job he knows. It means he’s giving up on following Jesus as a way of life. But Jesus doesn’t let him give up for long. . .


          There are so many things in the story we could go into. At first, John tells us, the disciples don’t know it’s Jesus standing there on the beach. There are other stories where the disciples are mysteriously prevented from recognizing the risen Jesus, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on here. After all it’s just after dawn and the disciples are a hundred yards from shore. I doubt I’d recognize my own children from a hundred yards at dawn. No, to recognize Jesus you’ve got to come up close—get out of your boat, put down what you’re doing, leave behind your fear, and come right up close. That’s what it takes to recognize the Risen Lord.


          There are so many things in this story we could go into. Like when they’ve been fishing all night and caught nothing, Jesus says, “Hey guys, why don’t you try the nets on the right side of the boat?” And of course they get this huge catch of fish. Some people think this was a miracle—that Jesus had some kind of supernatural fishing power. Maybe. But maybe he was just saying, “Why don’t you try the other side of the boat for a change.” If you’ve been fishing in the same spot all night and caught nothing, try the other side of the boat for a change. If you’ve been trying the same thing over and over and not getting results you want, try the other side of the boat. If you’ve been singing the same songs and offering the same programs and people aren’t excited any more, then try the other side of the boat for a change. You never know what might happen.


          There are so many things in this story we could go into. Do you remember how in verse 11 the net is not torn, though filled with that overwhelming load of fish? As one commentator has put it, “Jesus would like us, in all our diversity [and differences] . . . to be one.   The net,” he says, “does not have to split, though filled with multiple, varied and outsized fish.”1 Surely there’s a message here for the United Methodist church: We can be different and diverse, and yet the net does not need to split.”


          There are so many things in this story we could go into. Such as this: the disciples are all together when this took place. Now we’re getting deeper into the story. “It is especially when disciples are all together,” writes Frederick Bruner, “that the Risen Lord . . . reveals himself.”2 Now, the truth is, they weren’t all together. John names Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the two sons of Zebedee, and two other unnamed disciples. That’s seven disciples, not twelve, or by now, I guess, eleven. But given that there were almost 500 people here a week ago and, well, not that many today—seven out of eleven isn’t bad for the Sunday after Easter.

          The point is that Jesus invites all to come and dine. It’s especially when disciples are all together that the Risen Lord appears. The table is the place where Jesus welcomes all, and when all are together at the table is when Jesus shows up. “The church,” writes my teacher, Fred Craddock, “is a group eating together with glad and generous hearts. . . [So w]hen you separate the table you have destroyed the church. It is not a church,” he says, “where some refuse to eat with others.”3

          They were all together after Easter. It’s especially when disciples are all together that the Risen Lord appears. Wesley Allen tells of a church in Kentucky that began to experience growth due to folks from the community joining. But these new folks were different from the long-time members—ethnically diverse, some were LGBT persons, some were pierced and tattooed. Long-time members were uncomfortable but kept quiet as long as the new members put money in the offering plate and didn’t try to change anything. But when they had meetings to talk about how to move forward together, the same thing always happened: distrust arose, prejudices were expressed, conversation gave way to shouting. Then, on one occasion, the pastor started the meeting differently. He placed a loaf of bread and a cup in the middle of the group. “At the end of the meeting,” he said, “we’re going to share the Lord’s Supper. You are going to pass the bread and wine to one another in witness to the fact that Christ died for everyone here, whether you agree with or like each other or not.” And the conversation was different that night.4

          I know that some people can argue even at the table. But my grandma wouldn’t have stood for it. Neither does Jesus. The table is the place where Jesus welcomes all, and when all are together at the table is when Risen Christ appears.

Oh, there are so many things in this story we could go into. Depending on how you count them, not including the Empty Tomb stories, the gospels have eight appearances of the Risen Christ. Three of these, more than a third, involve eating. If it’s when we are all together that the Risen Christ appears, it’s when he eats with us that we know it’s him. Luke tells about two discouraged disciples walking along the road to Emmaus. The Risen Jesus joins them, but they don’t know it’s him. They walk and talk, they invite him to stay with them and he leads them in Bible study, but still they don’t know it’s Jesus. Only, Luke says, when he breaks the bread do they suddenly recognize him. In the next story, the Risen Jesus is trying to convince the disciples he’s real and not a ghost, but he’s not having much success. Finally he asks for something to eat and they give him a piece of fish. In eating, they know Christ is real.

And so in today’s story, at first none of them knows it’s Jesus there on the beach. Peter figures it out first and goes splashing ashore. But when Jesus gives them something to eat, it says, then none of them dared to ask, “Who are you?” because they all knew it was the Lord. The Risen Lord was known then, and the Risen Lord is known today, in the breaking of bread--not just here from the pulpit, but especially there at the table.


Oh, there are so many things in this story we could go into. Just one more. “Come,” Jesus said to those seven weary disciples, “Come and have breakfast.” Breakfast is the most intimate of meals. I had a friend who told me that he was about to ask his girlfriend to marry him. A few days later I called and asked, “How did it go?” “Well,” he said, “I invited her over to my place. She stayed for dinner . . . and she stayed for breakfast, and we’re getting married in August.” Breakfast is the most intimate of meals.

When our daughters were little, our family had a little story Bible. More pictures than words, kind of a “greatest hits” of the scriptures. Every night at bedtime we’d read them two or three of those stories. Every night, the girls would try to get us to read two or three more stories—I thought they just loved Bible stories; turns out they were just trying to extend bedtime! Either way, they heard a lot of Bible stories. One of Rachel’s favorite stories in the book was today’s gospel reading about Jesus sharing breakfast on the beach with his disciples. One summer when she was about four, we were on vacation in the Outer Banks, and Rachel told us that the next morning she wanted us all to have breakfast on the beach. We set an alarm and all four of us gathered on the sand at sunrise. And four year-old Rachel took bread and handed some to each of us, and she took fish—well, goldfish crackers--and gave us all a handful. Taking the lead role, she said to the rest of us, “Come, and have breakfast.” And suddenly there were not four of us there, but five on the beach. And none of us dared to ask, “Who is it?” because we all knew it was the Lord. Breakfast is the most intimate of meals.


O Come to the table, my friends, come and have breakfast. Come to the table, and eat with the Risen Lord. For the table is the place where Jesus welcomes all people and all kinds of people. O come to the table, my friends. For none of us here will need to ask, “Who is it?” because we will all know it is the Lord.


1 Frederick Dale Bruner, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012), 1213.

2 Bruner, 1207.

3 Fred B. Craddock, “Table Talk,” The Collected Sermons of Fred. B. Craddock (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 219.

4 Freely adapted from O. Wesley Allen, Jr., Preaching in the Era of Trump (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2017), 35.

01 April 2018

Ephesians 2:1-10

Saved By Grace, Raised With Christ

April 1, 2018        Maple Grove UMC


          Certain believers like to start conversations this way: Are you saved? they ask earnestly. Are you saved? they want to know. And I know what they mean. They mean have I had an emotional conversion experience, asked Jesus into my heart and prayed the Sinner’s Prayer. And they want a one-word answer: Yes. Yes, I am saved. That’s what they want to hear. And the fact is, I could give them that answer—all of that is true for me. But that feels like such a partial, inadequate answer. There is so much more to being saved than that. I want to give them two additional, longer answers--a Lenten answer (a good answer) and an Easter answer (a great answer).


          Are you saved? My answer from the season of Lent, from the scriptures we’ve been looking at together, would be: Not only am I saved; I have been saved by Jesus. And Jesus saves means:

  • I have been restored to community, made welcome in the place of worship, un-ostracized
  • I have been accepted for who I am right now and for who, by the grace of God, I may become
  • I have learned to notice when I’ve been healed and have come busting back to Jesus like a man in love
  • I have not been rescued from pain, but Jesus has been with me in my suffering and through my suffering.


     I have been saved. A couple of weeks ago the Columbus Dispatch ran an article about a man who in January learned that he was dead.1 After working for 20 years in Turkey, Constantin Reliu returned to his native Romania to discover that his wife had officially registered him as dead. He went to court to overturn his death certificate, but he was too late. The decision, the court said, was final. He is, for the rest of his life, the living dead.

          Now not in a legal sense, but spiritually that’s the situation described in Ephesians 2. “You were dead,” it says, “through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived.” We were all that way, it says. Breathing, walking, going to work and school, having families, going to church, alive . . . but dead too, in a sense.

          This spiritual deadness results in all manner of sinful behavior. Ephesians doesn’t go into detail, but you know the kinds of trouble people get themselves into. But sinful behavior is just the outward symptom of the problem. The root cause, writes New Testament scholar Ralph Martin, is alientation.2 People are not in sync with the Creator; therefore we are anxious and out of sorts. People are cut off from God’s purpose for their lives; therefore we live out some other story, a story that’s not truly who we are. People are alienated from our own true selves; therefore we act out in angry, hurtful ways. The sinful behaviors are many and varied, but the root cause is alienation. It is a kind of death.


          But then something happened. The turning point of this scripture comes in verse 4. Actually the turning point of all existence comes in verse 4: “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us . . . made us alive. . .” We were dead, but God. Ephesians says, by grace you have been saved. We were dead, but God. Then it says it again: by grace you have been saved. Am I saved? you want to know. Not only am I saved; I have been saved.

          Everything in this scripture is in the past tense:

  • But God made us alive together with Christ
  • By grace you have been saved
  • God raised us up
  • And again, by grace you have been saved

And here’s what that means. Fleming Rutledge says, “We have been saved. Not ‘we might be saved,’ or ‘you could be saved,’ or ‘maybe you will be saved,’ or any other kind of ‘saved’ that has an ‘if’ attached to it. Not ‘saved if you are good,’ or ‘saved if you are proper,’ or ‘saved if you are better than somebody else.’ Just saved.3 It’s past tense.

          So the Easter message is not about trying harder. It’s not about needing to understand things better. It’s not about getting your act together. It’s past tense. Jesus died for us a long time ago, and God has loved us longer than that. Are you saved? people want to know. Not only am I saved, I have been saved. Past tense. Taken care of. Count on it. Blessed assurance. Amen.


          And that is some very good news. But are you ready for some even better news? Easter is not only the end of the old life; it is the beginning of a new life.4 Here’s how Ephesians puts it: But God, it says, who is rich in mercy,

  • Made us alive together with Christ
  • Saved us by his grace
  • But what is more, God raised us up with Christ.

Which leads to my second answer to the question we started with. Are you saved? people want to know. Why, not only am I saved—I’ve been raised. “The resurrection,” writes Justo Gonzalez, “is not the continuation of the story. Nor is it just [the old story’s] happy ending. It is the beginning of a [whole new] new story.”5 You know, raised.


          Now before I go on and tell about the goodness and glory of being raised, let me pause to acknowledge that being raised to new life can feel, well, unsettling. Here’s why: Craig Barnes says that “in order to receive this new life, we have to stop clinging to the old one.”6 So yes, we want new life, new growth, new possibilities . . . but we also like the comfort and familiarity of the old life. Sometimes we’d rather sit by the tomb weeping than embrace the new thing God is doing. There’s the old joke—how many United Methodists does it take to change a light bulb? Thirteen. One to change the light bulb and twelve to complain that they liked the old one better. The message of the empty tomb is that we have to stop looking for Jesus in the past—he’s not there, he’s been raised, and so have we. In order to receive new life, we have to stop clinging to the old one. I’m not going to dwell on it this morning. But I do want to acknowledge that change is hard—even good, holy, necessary change is hard. So pray for us.


               What does it mean to be not just saved, but raised?

  • I think of my friends in AA. It’s one thing to stop drinking. That’s necessary, difficult, for some it’s all-consuming. To stop drinking, you might say, is like being saved. But then what? Once you’ve stopped drinking, there’s still this hole in your life. And now that you’re not drinking, you know and feel that hole in your life. You’ve got to fill that hole with something other than alcohol—with God, with love, with a new purpose, with Step 12 which is taking the message to other alcoholics. Not just saved, but raised—that’s what Easter’s about.
  • My mother lived for six years after my daddy died. They’d been married for fifty years, and she’d been pretty much his full-time care giver for a couple of years. When he died, she wasn’t just sad--she was lost. After a few months I asked her how she was doing. She said, “Well, I don’t cry every day any more. I’m eating and sleeping better.” She paused, and then went on, “But that’s not enough.” And pretty soon she started volunteering at a thrift store, taking on tasks at church again, and babysitting regularly for her grandkids. She didn’t want to just eat and sleep and breathe; she wanted to live. Not just saved, but raised—that’s what Easter’s about.
  • I read about Grace Presbyterian Church.7 They’d been declining for decades. They tried adding services and programs, but nothing worked. Then one spring, the roof started leaking. The roofer said he could start work during Holy Week or they’d have to wait for months, which put the sanctuary out of commission. The Church Council began looking for another place to meet. Their young pastor took the opportunity to suggest that on Good Friday they walk through the neighborhood and sing and pray at places where trouble or violence had occurred in the past year. After two hours the small group returned, determined to share their experiences with the whole church. One by one on Easter morning they told what they had seen and felt, and finally one of them said, “We can’t stay inside this building any longer. This morning we are opening the doors of this church and committing ourselves to work for justice in this community. Christ is risen. Alleluia!”

          Soon they started serving a weekly meal for single moms. They volunteered in the neighborhood school. They picked up trash at bus stops. And little by little the church began to grow. They had to get over wanting just to be saved, to just keep existing, and start praying to be raised to new life, new ministry, new relationships with new people. Not just saved, but raised—that’s what Easter’s about.

  • And now here we are, you and me, this Easter Day. I’ve been praying and pondering for weeks about what to say to you today. How to help you see and feel that it’s not just that you are saved, but that you have been saved. Past tense. Taken care of. Blessed assurance. Amen. And more than that, I’ve been pondering how to help you see and feel that you can be not just saved, but raised. That things don’t have to be the way they’ve always been—in fact, things can’t be the way they’ve always been—but God gives new life, new growth, new possibilities.

     And then one morning, during my prayer time, it hit me. I don’t want to just preach about being raised; I want to be raised! I don’t want to just tell people about new life; I want new life! I want to be able to let go of criticism and just keep doing the right thing. I want to stop worrying about my daughters and just love and appreciate them. I want to stop fussing about where people in the church do and don’t want to go, and just go where God already is.

          I said all that to God Thursday morning. And do you know what God said? Here is what God said. God said, “Okay.” “Okay,” God said. I wonder what new life you’re longing for?


          If anyone should ever ask you Are you saved?, you know what to say, right?

  • Am I saved? Why, I have been saved! Past tense. Taken care of. Blessed assurance. Amen.
  • Are you saved? people want to know. Am I saved? Why, not only saved; I’ve been raised!


1 Alison Mutler, ”Dead Man Walking: Court Rejects Man’s Claim He’s Alive,” The Columbus Dispatch (March 16, 2018), A14.

2 Ralph P. Martin, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, Interpretation (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1992), 25-27.

3 Fleming Rutledge, “Saved!,” The Bible and the New York Times (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), 180.

4 Samuel Wells writes this of baptism in Incarnational Ministry: Being with the Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2017), 92.

5 Justo Gonzalez, ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Luke, Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 274.

6 M. Craig Barnes, “We’re All Terminal,” Living by the Word, The Christian Century (April 6, 2004), 18.

7 Adapted from Claudio Carvalhaes and Paul Galbreath, “The Season of Easter: Imaginative Figurings for the Body of Christ,” Interpretation 63/1 (January 2011), 9-10.


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