We have all heard or used the expression, “I have lot of things on my plate right now.” We understand that can mean a lot of things. It can mean that we are busy with a big project. It can mean a concern about a loved one. It can mean dealing with a serious illness. It can mean having a lot of anxiety over something that is taking place in your life. Think of all the things that are on your plate right now that you are thinking about while you try to listen to the sermon. You are thinking about your family, your job, bills that you need to pay. The roast that is in the oven, an illness. Now add to our plate the demands of our faith. Making time for daily devotions, prayer, Sunday morning worship.
The Disciples had a lot on their plate too. Imagine all things they were thinking of as they followed Jesus around. Where are we going? Where are we going to sleep? What are we going to eat? What will do if we face an unfriendly mob? Now add to that what Jesus was teaching them in our scripture this morning.
Jesus is teaching them three important things in our scripture. The first is about what is going to happen to him. He tells them that he is going to be betrayed, killed and finally resurrected after three days. The second thing he was teaching them was about what it means to be great. He tells them that would should ever be great should be the least and serve others instead of themselves and finally he teaches them about who they should be serving, children and the poor, those who are powerless.
It’s understandable that with all that was on their plates that the Disciples would have some anxiety about the future especially about what Jesus was telling them about what was going to happen to him. It’s also understandable that with all the things on their plate they might be feeling a little under- appreciated for all that they were doing for Jesus. You can understand that with all the stuff on their plate they might be focused on more on self and not so much on others.
We understand it because the same thing happens to us. We have so much on our plate that we sometimes have anxiety about the future. With so much on our plates we can lose sight of what is important. With all on our plate we can forget who we are and whose we are. With all the stuff on our plates we can lose our sense of purpose. Does it mean we are bad people? It means that we are human. Jesus didn’t give up on his Disciples and Jesus doesn’t give up on us.
Which is why our faith in a God of grace and forgiveness is important in helping us to manage what is on our plates. The first thing our faith can do is to help us decide what is important. In our scripture before us Jesus tells his Disciples what is going to happen to him. Now this is not the first or second time he has told them this. It’s the third time. Telling someone something three time means that it’s important. We all have had moment when someone tell you something over and over again that it means that it is something important. It’s like when our wives tell us not to leave the toilet seat up. Some of us have to be told over again before we finally realize that it important to our wives.
Jesus tells his Disciples that what is going to happen to him because it going to be important to them. It will be the defining moment in their lives. It will change their lives. It will change how they see the world, it will change how they interact with the world and people.
Faith in Jesus death and resurrection is important for us because it changes the way we see and interact with people and the world. We know that we can’t treat people any way because Jesus died for everyone. We know that Christ’s death places on us a particular accountability and responsibility for how we act and how we treat others. We know that because of Jesus issues that have to do with people are more important than accumulating things.
The second thing that faith can help us keep what we have on or plate in perspective. We have a habit as human being to judge our value by what’s our plate and how well we are able to manage it. Sometimes we can have so much on our plate that we are overwhelmed. What if I can’t keep everything together on my plate? What if something on that plate falls. I won’t be perfect, I won’t be good enough. I won’t be the one in control. People will know that something is wrong with me. When we are stressed liked that we can feel like we are not good enough or feel under appreciated.
The Disciples had a lot on their plate to manage. I am sure they felt a lot of stress. They might have felt underappreciated for what they doing. It was only matter of time before they would have argued over which of them was more important. Jesus told them that to be the greatest you have to be the least. You have to be willing to think of the other guy needs before you. In a way Jesus is telling them that they are important. I don’t know about you but I feel a real sense of value and importance when I am able to help another person. When you help another person, you get a different perspective on who you are and on life. You realize that everyone needs help and no one is perfect. You begin to see that things that you are trying to manage on your plate don’t define who you are.
Finally, Faith can help us with finding purpose in life. Sometimes we can have so many things on our place that we lose our sense purpose. Why do I have all these things on my plate? What’s the purpose of all this? Everyone want to feel like they are important and value and everyone want to feel like their lives have purpose and they were created to accomplish something important. Jesus just told the Disciples that if they want to feel important they should focus on making others feel important. Jesus is more specific about who to help and focus on. Those who are powerless and need help like Children and the poor and those who disenfranchised. To put it another way, make the world better for someone else who needs it.
Our purpose as Disciples of Jesus is very simple. Make life better for someone else. Our faith can help us look at what’s on plate and ask the question of how I can use what is there to help make life better not just for myself or for others. If what is on your plate is a serious illness think about how you can use it to help another person going through the same thing as you. We can find our purpose in serving others, particularly serving those who are powerless like children and the poor. What it come down to is the opportunity to make people’s lives better.
As I said in the beginning Our plates are full. The good news is that we have our faith in God and Jesus Christ to help us better manage what in the plate. We have our faith to help us decide on what is really important and what is not. We have our faith to help with our perspective about who we are whose we are. We have our faith to help us find a purpose for what is on our plate and how we can use it to make the world a better place especially for children and the poor and the disenfranchised.