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February 27, 2017, 8:51 AM

Looking Like Jesus


Here is the story that I didn't use in the sermon time yesterday that you need to hear:  

In his book Messy Spirituality, Mike Yaconelli tells the story of a guy who was once mistaken for someone. His name was Daryl, and he was a new volunteer youth worker at his church. During their monthly nursing home visit, Daryl leaned against the back wall between two residents of the home who were in wheelchairs. At the end of the service, someone grabbed Daryl's hand. Startled, Daryl looked down and saw a very old, very frail, and an obviously very alone man. The man had no expression on his face, and his mouth hung open. Daryl doubted the man could hear or see anything at all.

As everyone got ready to leave, Daryl realized that he didn't want to leave the old man. Caught off guard by his feelings, Daryl leaned over and whispered, "I'm, uh, sorry that I have to go, but I'll be back. I promise."
Without warning the man squeezed Daryl's hand and then let go. On his way out the door, Daryl heard himself say to the old man, "I love you," and he thought, Where did that come from?

Daryl became a regular at the nursing home visits. Each month it was the same routine. Daryl would sit in the back next to Oliver, the old man, and hold his hand. At the end of the service, Daryl would say, "I'm sorry I have to go, but I'll be back next month. I love you." Oliver would squeeze Daryl's hand, and then Daryl would leave.

On Daryl's sixth visit the service started without Oliver. Daryl recognized that it sometimes took the nurses a while to get everyone wheeled out to the program. But halfway through the service Daryl became alarmed. He went to the nurses' station and was led to Oliver's room. In his 42 years of life Daryl had never before seen someone dying, but he could tell that Oliver was near death. Slowly he walked to the side of the bed and grabbed Oliver's hand. When Oliver didn't respond, tears filled Daryl's eyes.

It wasn't long before the youth director stood in the doorway to tell Daryl it was time to leave. An emotional Daryl said to Oliver, "I'm sorry, Oliver, I have to go. I love you." Just then Daryl felt a slight squeeze. Oliver had responded!
Tears flowed as Daryl stumbled out of the room, almost bumping into a young woman in the doorway. He said to her, "I'm sorry, I didn't see you." She responded, "It's all right, I've been waiting to see you. I'm Oliver's granddaughter. He's dying, you know."

"Yeah, I know," Daryl sadly responded.

Oliver's granddaughter went on to explain that she and her grandfather were very close. When the doctors told her he was dying, she came immediately. As she was with him the night before, he'd woken up, alert and bright-eyed, and asked her for a favor. He said, "Can you say goodbye to Jesus for me?"
Confused, she said, "But, Grandpa, I don't need to say goodbye to Jesus for you. He'll be the next person you see." Then Oliver closed his eyes, smiled mischievously, and said, "You don't understand. Jesus comes to see me every month, and He might not know I've gone."

Those were Oliver's last words.
Oliver's granddaughter asked the nurses what he meant. That's when they told her about the youth group that came and the guy who held her grandpa's hand. Then she said to Daryl, "I never thought of Jesus being as chubby and as bald as you, but I imagine that Jesus is very glad to have had you be mistaken for Him."*

I would love for everyone from Red Bridge to be mistaken for Jesus this week.  Live his character, live his words and actions, BE the Church and Body of Christ.  

*Adapted from Mike Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality, (Grand Rapids, M.I.: Zondervan, 2002), pp. 103-105.


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