Alex, I’ll Go With: What is God’s Love?

Sermon from May 5, 2019
John 21: 1-19
Christ Church, Tyler, Texas

Alleluia! Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

The game show called Jeopardy! has been on TV now for 55 years.
Most of us know how to play this game.

Yet as a refresher, this is how it works:
The contestant picks a category and a dollar amount.
For example, the contestant says:
“Alex, I’ll take:
‘Texas Cities for $500.’”
Then Alex Trebek, the long-time Jeopardy host, tells the contestant an answer, not a question.
And the contestant must reply in the form of a question.

So for example, Alex says:
“Texas Cities for 500.”
Then he reads the answer:
“Rose Capital of the World.”
To which the contestant replies correctly:
“What is:
Tyler?”

On the TV game show called Jeopardy, most contestants win just a couple thousand dollars.
Yet last month, on April 9th, a contestant on Jeopardy broke the record – the record for the largest winnings on a single day.
On April 9th, James Holzhauer won $110, 914.
Then on April 17th of last month, James Holzhauer broke his own record, winning $131,127 in that one single day.

jeopardy

James Holzhauer continues to win at Jeopardy.
His winnings are huge, and gigantic, and enormous.
He doesn’t haul in $1000 on a single day.
He doesn’t haul in $5000 on a single day.
On Jeopardy, he hauls in – hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single day.

And on the beach of the Sea of Galilee, the risen Jesus is responsible for a huge haul of fish.
You see, at first, the risen Jesus is not recognized by his followers.
And the risen Jesus tells his followers in the boat to cast their nets into the water.
And in the Bible, in the very last chapter of the Gospel of John, we learn that the fishing net is then so full, so abundant.
The haul in the net is not just one fish.
The haul in the net is not just a dozen fish.
No, when the net is hauled ashore, it is full of large fish, 153 fish in just one haul!

And it is only when the followers of Jesus see the huge and gigantic haul of fish,
It is only when they see the enormous number,
Then that is when they recognize that it is Jesus, risen from the dead.

In the Bible, the Gospel of John shows us – God.
The Gospel of John shows us Jesus Christ, who loves you hugely, enormously, abundantly.
Or using the verbiage of our current President:
Jesus loves you – bigly.

It is no wonder that the followers of Jesus don’t recognize, at first, that it is the risen Jesus beside the beach.
The followers of Jesus are not used to Jesus loving them small-ly, or meagerly, or slightly.
Because the love of Jesus for each one of us is:
Huge, gigantic, enormous, abundant.

And throughout the whole Gospel of John, the huge and abundant love of Jesus Christ is made known.

In the Gospel of John, at his first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee, Jesus changes water into wine.
And this new wine is not just – a glass of wine.
This new wine is not just – a bottle of wine.
No, when the bartenders at the wedding dip into the jars of water,
There are now over 120 gallons of new, fine wine!

Also in the Gospel of John, Jesus approaches a foreign Samaritan woman at a well.
Jesus does not tell the woman at the well that he will give her just a sip of water.
Jesus does not tell the woman that he will give her a bottled water.
No, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that those who drink his water will never be thirsty again, because he is “a spring of water gushing up to eternal life!”

And in the very beginning of the Gospel of John, in the very first chapter, we receive a clue, a clue about the huge and enormous love of Jesus as we read:
“From his fullness, we have all received,
Grace upon grace.”

Jesus does not reveal himself in a small glass of wine,
But in gallons of wine.
Jesus does not reveal himself in a trickle of water,
But in a gushing spring of water.
Jesus does not reveal himself in loving you just a little,
But in loving you from his fullness, with grace upon grace upon grace.

For on the beach of the Sea of Galilee, the risen Jesus is revealed, when we experience the gigantic haul of 153 large fish.
And the risen Jesus is revealed in our own lives, when we experience the gigantic haul of gushing and abundant love for each of us.

Today here at Christ Church downtown, at both worship services, we are confirming and receiving youth and adults.
Making a mature public affirmation of faith is not a small thing.
Because Jesus Christ, whom we promise to follow, is big.
And his love and forgiveness and grace – are huge.

For when you mess up in your own life,
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy.
There is grace upon grace upon grace,
Because the risen Jesus loves you, from his fullness.

When you make mistakes in your own life,
When you disappoint yourself and others,
You are forgiven.
And you are not forgiven just a little.
You are forgiven by Jesus, completely, entirely, once and for all.

When you feel unworthy in your life,
When you feel ashamed or picked on,
You are loved by God in Jesus Christ, forever,
Because nothing, nothing, nothing can ever separate you from his enormous love!

In just one day last month on Jeopardy, James Holzhauer hauled in hundreds of thousands of dollars.
And in just one day on the beach, the risen Jesus is revealed by the haul of a full net of large fish, a bigly catch of 153 fish.

So, to Alex Trebek, I say this:
Alex, I’ll think I’ll take:
Jesus for 500.
Then Alex reads the answer:
Huge, gigantic, enormous, abundant.

To which I reply:
Alex, I’ll go with:
What is:

God’s love?

AMEN.

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