Steadfast Love: Life – Sunday February 25, 2024

The path to new life is a path of vulnerability and feeling.


Scripture surprised me this week. I had a rough plan of what I would preach on, where the scripture was taking me. That plan began to take form all the way last July at a worship planning retreat and continued at the end of January as I prepped for our music advisory team to plan the music that would help shape this sermon series. And then, this week, I began working on my detailed sermon process. Part of which is simply reading the texts over and over again and asking questions. I got caught up in Peter’s rebuke of Christ. Jesus foreshadows his own death, openly talking about what would come, and afterwards Peter pulls Jesus aside to express his disapproval, he rebukes Jesus. But what does he rebuke Jesus for? Does Peter disapprove of telling the disciples, like they can’t handle it? Does Peter disapprove of speaking about those things so plainly and openly? Does Peter disapprove of the vulnerable picture Jesus paints for this Son of Man, this Messianic figure? Later, after Jesus rebukes Peter, Jesus flips everything into a teachable moment and says, “Those who are ashamed of me and of my words…” Was Peter ashamed of what Jesus had said? I let those questions linger and shifted to looking up the Greek, which is when scripture surprised me, right from the first verse. The Son of Man must undergo great suffering. When I think of suffering, I think of pain and I assumed that is what the root of the Greek there would trace back to. But it doesn’t. What is the meaning behind the Greek word there? Feeling. What we translate as suffer is about “experiencing feeling…a great capacity for feeling…to feel heavy emotions.” The Son of Man must feel…and after three days rise again. The path to new life is a path of vulnerability and feeling. Which for some of us, is like the worst news ever.


Feelings? Anything but feelings. There are entire industries in our culture designed to help us numb and not feel as much as possible. Even if something isn’t inherently designed to help us numb and avoid, we’re really good at using things in that way. Netflix, social media.

And on the flip side, there are some of us who get trapped in feelings. Oftentimes, sadness, grief, anger, hopelessness, frustration. We feel so much that we can’t escape them.

Things happen to us and around us. Our hearts and minds have all sorts of ways to cope with big feelings, some of them healthier than others.


Feeling is hard and it always has been. Just look at Peter’s reaction. What Jesus said was so jarring and disturbing, that Peter rebuked, chastised, pulled Jesus aside to correct Jesus. And to that rebuke Jesus told Peter, “you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” It may not always seem like it, but our capacity to feel, is divine. Our ability to feel, is from God. And both sides of that feelings coin are going to push back and say no. Numbing tells us, feeling is too hard, it is much easier to go through life, feeling nothing. And overwhelming feeling tells us, feelings are a curse, there’s just too many of them, too much. But feelings are where we get empathy and compassion from. If we didn’t feel, there would be no justice because you wouldn’t care what happens to you or your neighbor. If we didn’t feel, there would be no sorrow or grief but there would also be no joy, no love.


In our Genesis passage, Abram and Sarai did not get new names, poof, right away. They went through four chapters of journeying into the unknown, mistakes, and difficulties.

Throughout scripture, we encounter Jesus leaning into feeling. When he weeps before the resurrection of Lazarus. When he is in the garden of gethsemane right before his crucifixion asking for this cup to pass from him. Jesus didn’t muscle his way through the cross or numb his way to it. He prayed his way, cried his way, and felt his way.



The ability to look into the face of your grandchild and experience love to the depth of your soul? That is a gift from God.

The ability to laugh, for a false spring in the middle of Nebraska winter to bring a smile to your face? That is a gift from God.

The ability to cry at the brokenness of the world around us? As painful and difficult as it is, that is also a beautiful gift from God.


Feelings are not meant to be things that drag us down or things we need refuge from. The path to new life is a path of vulnerability and feeling. And you may need some extra companions on the journey. We may need therapy or medication, we may need intentional time with friends or in community. And that is ok. The good news is, you do not have to feel alone. We are all on this journey together. And whatever feeling you need to name, face, and move through, God has felt it before. This week, may we try to recognize feeling as a divine gift. May we recognize the new life that comes through vulnerability and feeling. Facing, acknowledging, experiencing, and moving through our feelings, that is life, that is healing, that is resurrection.

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