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Be The Traveler

Luke 23:1-49

The Rev. Jon Roberts

10 April


Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

1 Then the whole company of them arose, and brought him before Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a king.” 3 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 4 And Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, “I find no crime in this man.” 5 But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.” 6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 9 So he questioned him at some length; but he made no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then, arraying him in gorgeous apparel, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other. 13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him; 15 neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Behold, nothing deserving death has been done by him; 16 I will therefore chastise him and release him.” 18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barab′bas”— 19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city, and for murder. 20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus; 21 but they shouted out, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise him and release him.” 23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate gave sentence that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, whom they asked for; but Jesus he delivered up to their will. 26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. 28 But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” 32 Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”[b] And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him,[c] “This is the King of the Jews.” 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into[d] your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land[e] until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed;[f] and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, and said, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the multitudes who assembled to see the sight, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance and saw these things.


Christ and Simon of Cyrene, Francois Louis Schmied, 1931

A traveler sees what they see but a tourist sees what they came to see.[1]

It is now official, that in the year 2022, Florida has become the number one place, not only to visit but to live. That does that come to anyone’s surprised based on all we have gone through? What a title: The best state of all. Florida came out number one, with 33% of all new visitors and residents coming here. It unseated the traditional leader, California along with other states like Colorado and New York. Mr. Pandemic and perhaps Mr. DeSantis could be plausable explanations from one travelor to another, but we must wonder why this phenomenon is occuring. We are not talking about tourists, just coming to visit Disney, but we are talking about people coming here to live. The big problem is that we can’t keep up with the growth as the demand on those moving here is greater than the supply of real estate. People cannot hardly find a place to buy or to rent. The winters get really cold up north and this year was the tipping point. People may have said, “That’s it. We’re done. We are moving to Florida. We are going to walk on the beach and dip my feet into that water and heal my soul.” Do those of us who live here go to the beach or a theme park everyday? Probably not, but a tourist comes to see what they want to see.

A lot of times the tourist can be disappointed by the unexpected. We are all on this trip. Have you ever had a trip you were so excited where you could hardly wait to go? You planned it all out, but did that trip actually go according to your plans? Maybe it’s like that old saying, “Make plans and make God laugh.” We discover it is those idiosyncrisies. It’s those things we did not expect that stand out. We took a wrong turn. We took a left when we should have taken a right. We got turned around. We didn’t ask for directions when we should have. Sometimes we thought we would come down to the hot weather but it turned out cold and rainy. In. those moments the real decision becomes will you be a travelor or a tourist?

Sometimes it is good to get off the scripted tour. Palm Sunday is a good example. This may not be your first trip. You have probably been to a Palm Sunday service before. You know what to expect. You expect the same hymns but you continue to come back. When it comes to a service like this, there is a lot that goes into planning it. You are about to embark on a wonderful trip into Holy Week but then the priest may ask you to do things on the spot and it takes you by surprise. You are faced with that decision to be a travelor or a tourist. Take into account how we assign parts, such as the Passion Gospel today. Did that go according to plan or did we have to quickly find people for certain parts? Did we have to make substitutes? The Deacon could have gottend frustrated. This was not on the tour. The Choir decided to come to sing at the early service. They could have refused. It was a turn in the road. Take into account someone like our Thurifer, the one who brings in the incense. He was just trained two days ago. He could have refused and not volunteered. He could have said, “The heck with that,” but he signed up for both services with a glad heart he accepted the challenge and we are blessed by that decision. He, like some of our readers, certainly did not expect everything that was going to happen today.

It was like that for one man, who was returning on vacation to Jerusalem with his family for the Passover.[2] They had some good food. They wanted to enjoy the celebration and not be interupted. Simon of Cyrene, a man with darker skin, is the epitomy of a toursit who became a travelor. Everything was planned. The trumpets were blowing, hosannas were ringing out and someone you overhear says the man entering the opposite gate may be the Messiah. Simon heard of this man, Jesus and was curious to watch. It seemed like a good show and a good leadup to the sacred holiday that week. How wonderful and then something terribly awful happens. The straight path turns crooked and painful. “Kids, don’t look” The sunshine turns to rain when that same man staggered up the road, beaten and bloody, carrying a cross. Those same tourists spat on him and heckled him, blood thirsty for a painful death. The Centurion, on his horse, sees Simon in the crowd and says, “You there, take this man’s cross and carry it for him.”

What do you see? It’s not what you came to see. The tour of Holy Week is about the experience of God emptying Himself so that we can live. He emptied himself of tears and blood. How did we go from an action packed, fun-filled expectation to something like this? We all know how trips can go. It is in those surprises, those mysteries found in the Son of God. As His Holy Spirit moves and breathes in us, to use us to help us carry our cross, to help us sing our song, to glorify Him; this becomes the trip that is so powerful; so unforgettable.

Why would this man do this? Two criminals. One who does not see beyond death and the other who pleads to see life everlasting. For one the trip is about over; for the other it is only beginning. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” What are you, the tourist or the travelor. The wonder and beauty of Christ, who lives in us gives us the unsuspected invitation as he did to Simon and to the other thief on the cross. We are called to meet others along this road in which we travel, sharing with them the good news of Jesus Christ. They may look a different way. They may be from a different place but this is how God intended it. We come with our brokeness to Christ broken on our behalf, so that we gain life to help others who are broken. This is the intended trip God has planned for you. Be the travelor. Go ahead and make your plans. That’s OK, but be prepared to follow where Christ leads for a traveler sees what they see but a tourist sees what they came to see

[1] GK Chesterton
[2] Luke 23:1-49

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