As I sat with the readings for this week, once again my mind turned back to the days of my youth and a commercial. I researched it, it’s 1971 and the song popularized by the New Seekers is used for an advertisement for Coca-Cola. They say Coke is the real thing, it’s what the world needs today, it’s the real thing. This is what the readings are trying to emphasize this weekend, that Jesus is the real thing, he is the one the world has been waiting for.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus uses the illustration of the sheepfold to show that he is their source of protection and the leadership the world has been waiting for. Jesus sees that the people don’t get it, they don’t understand, so he emphasizes it to them once again — that he is the one they been looking for. You see, he is inviting them to listen with the ears of their hearts and acknowledge that they know his voice and to acknowledge that they know Jesus is the real thing.
It is in the same spirit that Peter and the Eleven stand before the nation of Israel and plead with them to recognize who Jesus is, who this crucified man is. Peter calls for them to “repent,” which in this instance is not a reminder of their sinfulness, but a call to recognize the goodness and truth that already exists in their hearts, an inner knowing, an inner truth that Jesus is the anointed One. By stopping, listening, and reflecting, the power of the Holy Spirit speaks to their hearts and many people are converted… they recognize Jesus is the real thing.
And so it is in Peter’s letter this weekend. Using the words from Isaiah and his description of the suffering servant… these words are being spoken to a group of slaves. They are told that Jesus, the one crucified, is like them, that he too had experienced mistreatment and disrespect. But rather than returning hate with hate, Jesus transforms these experiences into a healing remedy, a cure for their suffering, a cure for what is wrong with the world because he is the real thing.
This weekend we too share in the love and protection of Jesus if we will but hear his voice and follow where he leads.
(Singing) “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. I’d like to hold it in my arms and keep it company.” Jesus, the real thing, it’s what our world needs today. Let us follow his way, for he is the real thing. Refreshing!
In the of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen