“come as you are” – Jesus

 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them… – Matthew 5:1

IMG_2293
Jesus loves me, this I know… WFPC

Back to our ongoing “Mondays with the Sermon on the Mount” discussion: this Sunday my adult discipleship class talked about “Who was there?” on the mountainside with Jesus.

“Who was there?” is a great question, because it reminds me that Jesus never taught in a vacuum. We too glibly treat scripture as if it was all literally dictated by God, written down word for word, and uniformly applicable without regard to the circumstances, the times, the audience, the geography, the history, the local language, the political situation, the cultural milieu, the social setting, the people – real life human beings, gathered around as participants, or observers, or listeners. And all that is just a sampling of what is important for us to at least begin to understand.

THE CROWDS: So we talked about how the last section of Matthew 4 describes a variety of people from Syria, from Galilee, from the Decapolis, from Jerusalem, and from “beyond the Jordan.” These people brought a whole catalog of issues and challenges with them. Jesus saw the crowds, and he went up the mountain, and he laid out the basics – the essential framework – of his message.

We went on to talk about who Jesus is speaking to today, and I wondered who might be considered “from beyond the Jordan” in our cultural context?

Finally – and it is amazing how much great conversation emerges from a couple of good questions – we talked about who we are, what sense of self each one of us brings to the mountain to listen, and what deep need is it that I bring, that you bring, into the presence of the Great Teacher?

me and Dan
me and Dan

JESUS LOVES ME: This is the connection point for the photograph I’ve chosen to anchor this post. Our choir director asked me to sing during the Praise Service, so I played my arrangement of “Jesus Loves Me This I Know.” It’s a mellow “James-Taylor-esque” take, and it was beyond cool to have Praise-Band guitarists David Newton, Dan Gregory, and Hans Boyesen (along with drummer April Gregory) join in.

The point of this classic song is – simply – that Jesus welcomes us exactly as we are. Shiny Sunday faces; worn and anxious; doubters; broken; confident; struggling; overflowing with belief; uncertain; strangers; friends; work colleagues; burdened; carefree; neighbors; family; lost; rejected; and so many “from beyond the Jordan.”

Jesus loves us. Simple, profound, true to the very heart of the gospel. Jesus welcomes us. “We’re all weak, but Jesus is strong.”

IMG_2295I fleshed out the song by including phrases from many well-loved hymns. Here it is – the just-for-you You Tube version – then the text, pasted below my sign-off. See how many of the hymns you can recognize? Then see how directly Jesus speaks to you: “Welcome; come home; I love you.”

– DEREK 

Jesus loves me this I know – for the Bible tells me so;

Little ones to him belong – we’re all weak but he is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me, yes  Jesus  loves me;

Yes, Jesus loves me – the Bible tells me so.

Rock of ages cleft for me – Let me hide myself in thee;

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound – I once was lost but now am found;

Yes, Jesus loves me, yes  Jesus  loves me;

Yes, Jesus loves me – the Bible tells me so.

Hark the herald angels sing – All creatures of our God and King;

Be thou my vision, Precious Lord – A mighty fortress is our God.

Yes, Jesus loves me, yes  Jesus  loves me;

Yes, Jesus loves me – the Bible tells me so.

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