If you love me…..

            I have never been very good with conditional clauses, either at observing them or living by them.   

            Oh, I’ve had a go at it.   As a parent you pretty much have to be.   “If you clean your plate, you can have dessert.”  That was the standard phrase I heard growing up, and one that I probably inflicted on my children as well.   It’s a classic conditional clause.  If you do this, you will get something in return.

            “Clean your room, and you can go hang out with your friends.”

            “Start saving early, and you can retire at 62.”

            “Eat a high fiber, low sodium diet, and you’ll live longer, feel better, reduce your risk of heart attack, diabetes, and stroke.”

            All of those are conditional clauses, and all carry with them a promise of reward attached, but not a one of them ends up being terribly motivational!

            So then, how am I to take the Gospel lesson  and make of it something that inspires and motivates?    Here comes Jesus spouting conditional clauses to his disciples as they share the Lord’s Supper.   “If you love me, you will keep my commandments, and I will ask the Father and he will give you another advocate to be with you forever.” 

            Here is the problem with the Gospel for today.  It is what Jesus says, but it isn’t very motivational!

            Be honest here, how many parents used the conditional clause on their children to get them to clean their plate, and had it fail miserably.   Some kids won’t be coerced!   They don’t like those peas, and it doesn’t matter what you promise in the future, or if the bucket of ice cream is sitting there on the table and everyone else is enjoying it… they are just NOT GOING TO EAT THOSE PEAS!

            How many were rebellious in their youth and would rather have found away around the cleaning of the room, or just gone out with friends anyway, leaving their parents to stew in the failure at getting them to clean their room?

            Here is the deal, I have always found it odd that Jesus uses this language with his disciples at the Lord’s Supper knowing in John’s Gospel how bad they are at follow through! If this is a conditional clause, Jesus holding the carrot on the stick in front of us, it is a monumental failure.   We just don’t respond to this well!  

            “If you love me, you will keep my commandments….”    The disciples couldn’t even keep watch with him in the garden without falling asleep!   Keep his commandments?  Not a chance!

            And if they couldn’t do it after having three years of intensive face time with Jesus, what are the chances we will be able to do it??

            I hear this Gospel lesson, and for me it sounds like the grating of my parents voice.  Yeah, right, do this, and I’ll get that.  Tit for tat, is that how God works too?   Like everything else in this world?

            No.  God does not work the way this world works.   

            This is not a conditional clause, although it sounds to our worldly ears like one!   We have to tune our ears differently to hear it not as this world hears it, but the way God and the Spirit hears it.

            If you love me you will keep my commandments…”

            What if this is not a conditional clause, but a statement of fact?  “You WILL do this.”            

            This is Memorial Day Weekend, the time when we honor those who have gone before us.  We particularly honor those who gave, as Lincoln stated eloquently in his Gettysburg Address; the last full measure of devotion”… their very lives in support of the cause for which they were called to war.

            It is a curious thing, what one will do in time of war, or under extreme circumstances. 

            We need go no further than the reports out of Joplin Mo. to find people doing extraordinary things for others, but the witness there is that such acts of love, devotion, heroics, or self sacrifice do not happen because of conditional clauses. 

            I doubt very much that the man who threw himself on top of his wife and child in the bathtub and who died of his injuries as the tornado flailed sharp objects at and over him was thinking to himself, “If I do this, they will love me.”

            I doubt very much that any number of the stories of heroic actions in time of battle by soldiers of every rank, began with a conditional clause. 

            “If I take this chance, lead this charge, mount this defense,I’ll get a medal.   I’ll make the history books.”

            No, there is something else at work in all of that.   You take the chance, you lead the charge, you mount the defense because of the love you already have.

            You throw your body over the spouse not to get something, but to give something away, your very life if you have to, so that that which is already in you can have the power to do what you already know that it can do.   Save.

            “If you love me, you will end keeping my commandments.”  That’s what Jesus is saying to his disciples, because that Spirit of God is already there in them and at work. 

            Oh, they may fail and flail around a bit.   They may deny and try to step away from the task to which they have been called, but Jesus won’t let them do that for long.

            “I will not leave you orphaned…” he says.

            I will not have you feeling unloved, abandoned, or left to your own devices in this world.  Jesus says.   When the time is right, when the need is there, when the moment comes, you will love me and you will keep my commandments, and I will send that advocate, that Spirit, to strengthen and support you in that task.

            It is not a conditional clause that Jesus gives us today.

            It is an unconditional promise!  

             On that day (Whatever that day may be, Jesus says,) you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.   They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and I will reveal myself to them.”

            You already have it in you, that Spirit.

            It was given in your Baptism.

            It longs to love, and serve, and to keep those commandments that Jesus came to show and live. 

            But, that Spirit, that love does not do what it does out of a sense of obligation, or out of sense of getting something in the end for your trouble, and religion, “church” gets it terribly wrong when it tries to motivate people in that way.

             “If you do this, you’ll get to heaven, have a rich full life, get a reward, be successful, etc, etc.”   All those “theology of glory” temptations that are just the voices of this world trying to make of faith something that it is not, an obligation, a thing to do, a set of rules to keep, or a conditional clause.

            No, here is the deal, and on Memorial Day weekend you have a unique glimpse into it.   If you love Jesus, you will keep his commandments, because you cannot help yourself from doing it.   They have soaked into your bones.  

            The same child who would not eat their peas, will eventually reach out and touch their parent’s hand, and would gladly do anything now to keep the touch of death at bay.  

            I you love me, you will keep my commandments.

            The rebellious teen that would not clean their room will one day show up at a stranger’s house after the tornado has ripped through to start picking up the pieces. 

            If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

            The soldiers who once competed against each other for every little task, will put themselves in harms way for those they do not even know, and for whom no one may ever even know what they have done.

            If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

            This is the way that the Spirit, the Advocate that Jesus sends works.  Not with coercion, or reward, or with some promise of easy and better things in the future, but with the very compassion of Jesus himself residing within us, who will not let us do anything less than what he himself has done.

            If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  With my love, my Spirit within you, you really won’t be able to stop yourself. 


Looking for God

           Well, we’re all still here.   I had a difficult time deciding what to do with the attendance at church last Sunday.  Should I have been concerned about the people who weren’t here?  Or, should I have been more concerned if people were still there… with me?

            We’ve passed the deadline for yet another “doomsday predictor” who has tried to read the scriptures like a roadmap for damnation. 

            How sad, really.  

            In 1st Thessalonians 4, Paul spoke a pastoral word to grieving families.   They had lost their loved ones before Jesus’ return.  “What was to become of them?” they asked Paul   And Paul, grounded in an understanding of God’s Grace described how we would all be caught up together in the Lord, some sooner, after death, and some later in the fullness of the Kingdom at Christ’s return.  

            170 years ago, a break-away Irish Anglican cleric by the name of John Nelson Darby read that chapter of scripture and came up with the notion of “the rapture”… a time between Jesus’ final coming at the close of History.  He described a time when some would be “left behind” until the coming of the Kingdom in its fullness.  He extrapolated a time of tribulation, when creation was left to just kind of stew in its own corrupt juices.

            What Paul meant for comfort, Darby twisted into a time of tribulation to induce repentance, or fear, or action.  It’s been used as such over and over since.  Most recently it was Harold Camping who tried his hand at forcing God into a timetable.  He set a date, based on his voodoo Bible math, and laid down the gauntlet to see if God would pony up the way God should for a prophet.

            And so the world twittered and facebooked and e-mailed, and every major news outlet picked up the story to see if it would happen.

            We joked, wondered, dug into the history and the roots of this, and once again, sort of laid down the gauntlet along with Camping.   Would God carry through?   Would it happen?

            It did not.

            And now Camping is befuddled, and pretty much the rest of the Christian world is standing with one form of egg on its face or another.  Either we look hopelessly out of tune with God, or like so many believe, God isn’t really there, or isn’t really interested in us anymore.

            This is what comes of looking for God where God hasn’t made a promise to be.

            How sad, really, for in the Gospel for this day, we do have Jesus talking to his disciples who are earnestly looking for God, and who don’t know where exactly to look.

            Thomas, not knowing where Jesus is going, how can he follow??

            Philip, asking if he can have a peek at God the Father, and that will be enough to see him through.

            Looking for God, it is what we do when we get anxious.   You can sense the anxiety in Thomas’ words, in Philip’s pleading.  

            I wonder how many people did keep checking in as the time got closer on that Saturday, just in case.  We laugh and make jokes about it, but you know that humor and terror are often mirror images of the same sense of anxiety.  We either scream or laugh, at the horror movie or the haunted house.   It is what we do with our anxiety.

            What Philip and Thomas do with their anxiety is turn to Jesus, and what Jesus does with their anxiety is respond by telling them where to look.

            “I go to prepare a place for you.”

            “Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father.”

            If you want to look for God, look to Jesus!  

            This is what Jesus came for, so that in flesh and blood, in walking and talking and breathing, we might know God in such a way that all our anxiety about God is taken away.  This is the promise of God.

Martin Luther often talked about where it is that we look for God, and it is often in the wrong place.   We try to figure God out in God’s hidden nature, in raw power.   We look to the events of power, wind, storm, flood, and ask “where is God?” in that experience.   And in that place, God is silent, and terrible, and hidden from us.   Like Camping, looking for God in the unexplainable, trying to find God in the right math, the right date, the right combination of verses.  That is not where God has chosen to reveal God’s self.

No, God chooses to reveal God’s self in Jesus.  God comes and walks in Jesus, and then he gathers followers and goes with them and sends them forth, his apostles, his disciples.   All the while Jesus is coming and going he is gathering or sending or leading or talking about where he goes, and where you will go as his followers, and where he leads, and where we must follow.  All this God does in Jesus.  If you want to see God, look to Jesus.

 “Oh, the places you’ll go,” Dr. Seuss once famously wrote as a commencement address to a graduating class. 

OH!  THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! You’ll be on your way up!  You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights!

 You’ll go places in this life, and in the next we would add.  But, we never go alone, and that is as much a part of this Gospel promise as anything.    That is what Camping and all those doomsday prophets forget.  The promise of the Gospel is one of Jesus’ continued presence with us.  

If you want to see God, look to Jesus, and where it is that Jesus has promised to make himself known to us, namely  in the breaking of the bread.  When we come to share the bread and wine, we remember Jesus who gathers people to his table.   We remember the promises that he gives to all who come here, that he has prepared a place for them — always.

As we come to the table, any table really, but especially this table called the Lord’s Supper, we are joining that great line, to share the Bread and Wine where Jesus has promised to be present.

It is in the Lord’s Supper that we find the everlasting life that begins now, and is brought to completion in the life to come.

It is in this gathering that we find forgiveness.

It is in this coming together that we find healing, hospitality, and the very presence of the God who goes with us always, and who promises a place for us.

Oh, the places you’ll go!  And that last place promised is the one where all the saints in light are gathered.

            Where do we look for God?    Not in predictions or the things that bring fear, or dire catastrophic events.   

            No, if you want to find God, look for Jesus, and to find Jesus, look across the table.   Look at the place prepared for you there, and those who have been gathered together with you.  That’s where he promises to be.   



Gatekeepers—That’s what we have to contend with today to understand this Gospel lesson.   What to do with, and about, the gatekeepers.

            They come in two varieties you know.

            At my elementary school, Mrs. Kivett was the gatekeeper.   She taught 3rd grade, and as the midpoint of the elementary experience her judgment reigned supreme.   She was the one who determined if you would go on to 4th grade, or repeat, or enter a combined 3rd & 4th class to work on the lacking skills.   She was a teacher to be feared and respected. 

She held court at the front doors of the school, on the playground as well.   We had two playgrounds, one in the front of the school, and one on the back side.  On the back side, there was the cooler equipment and the older elementary kids.  On the front, there was the older equipment and the younger and or “less mature” children.   She would stand at the intersecting hallway, as main recess after lunch took place, and she would sort the kids as they came by, directing who would go where this day.   Her memory was long, and sharp, and if you had done something to mark you as “less mature” person on the playground the days or weeks before, with a quick glare and a point of the finger she’d direct you to your proper place.   No one got past her, and no one dared to try to weasel around another way.

She was a gatekeeper.  She was after order, progress for her students, and making sure everyone got the best education they could.  I can see that now, but at the time it sure felt like she was someone always in your way.

Flash now, to a different scene, a different kind of gatekeeper.  

For as long as I knew him, Harvey had always been the orneriest of guys.   That is his real picture.   He was a friend of my father, they did some farming together, palled around, and helped each other out.  He was quick to laugh, and quick to play a joke or a trick on someone.   If something mischievous ever happened, eyes always went his direction first.   He was the planner, the schemer, and the instigator.  He could have a quick temper, but it was also one that melted away just a quickly, as he laughed about what happened.

He was also a gatekeeper of a different kind.   If Mrs Kivett could tell you what you couldn’t do with any icy glare, Harvey’s chuckle and finger pointing worked quite differently.

He was the first one to get you into something.

“Ever drive a pick-up?”  He asked me, I think at the ripe age of 10. 

“No.”  I said.

“Well, bout time — get in here.”   And off we would go across the field, me behind the wheel barely reaching the pedals.

That was Harvey’s approach to gate keeping.  

It was not who could or could not pass, but how fast can we get you in?   How quick can we get you started?   Why aren’t you getting in and getting out and doing things?    Who says you can’t do that!  Get in there!

Oh, not everything went smoothly with this approach either.   Sometimes you made big mistakes, but that was part of the learning curve, and he’d cuss a bit, and then start to laugh about it. “My fault, you didn’t know any better, but you do now!”  And he’d get a big grin that showed off his false upper teeth.

Harvey was after building confidence, and getting people out into the fray of life.


That’s what Jesus says he is today, a gatekeeper.  And now the big question is, “What is he after?”

Do you see Jesus as the kind of gatekeeper who tries to keep people in their respective places?   Or do you see Jesus as the kind of gatekeeper who encourages folks to come in and out, stepping into the fray of life?

Curiously enough, this Gospel has room for both.   Jesus does want to care for the flock, but protection is not his first impulse.  If you look closely at the analogies, you’ll discover that the bottom line is all about life!

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”   That is Jesus’ last word here. 

We’ve all had Mrs. Kivett’s in our lives, who for all the right reasons have told us what we could and couldn’t, should and shouldn’t do.    Bless such people for trying to help keep us safe and orderly.

But that kind of gatekeeper is not the norm for the Kingdom of God, and it’s not the model for the church.   It is too often what we settle for, what we think would be safe and best.  

 But Jesus is after life for the flock.   He is after getting them to go out and to come in and to find the nourishing pasture that will strengthen them for the task of being sheep.  Jesus is after getting you to go through him, just through him, and not find a back door way to live.

Jesus is in every way like a Harvey, who is pulling you ever farther out of your comfort zone so that you might find life and discover where he has already gone before you, preparing those whom you meet to hear the good news, ears tuned to recognizing the voice of the shepherd in these strangers, who are soon to be fellow member of the flock.

“I came that they might have life and have it abundantly!”  That’s what Jesus says today, as he, the shepherd, encourages us to leave our safe enclosures to discover where he will lead and guide us in this wide and wonderful world that he so longs to redeem.  That’s what all these Easter stories boil down to, you know.  They are all stories about getting the scared disciples out from behind their locked doors, their safe feeling enclosure, out into the world where the Son of God stepped boldly to bring good news.

 This is the kind of Gatekeeper Jesus is.  Come and meet a Lord and Savior who does not point fingers to put people in their place, but who grins widely and encourages, and who motions with his hands, “Come on, let’s do some living!”      Amen.


What is needed is a good case of heartburn.  That may not be what you came expecting to hear today.   For those who have experienced the discomfort and pain of a slice of pizza eaten too late in the evening, you probably don’t want to hear about heartburn at all.   Who wants to be reminded of that?  But of course, that’s not the kind of heartburn I’m talking about, nor the kind that we find in this Gospel.  

            These two saddened disciples make their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus and  encounter Jesus along the way, who comes to them in the form of stranger.  They cannot immediately recognize this stranger as Jesus, and we’re not sure why.

            Maybe the resurrected body looks different.

Or, maybe in grief and pain, they just aren’t looking at him and aren’t really paying attention to much of anything except the top of their own feet.

You know how that goes.   Distracted by your own thoughts, your own problems and concerns, you are sort of blank to the presence and comments of others.

            At any rate, the encounter with Jesus stirs something inside them, and that stirring comes, we are told, as he begins to open to them the scriptures.  He begins to give them insight into what God has been up to all along.  

            This stranger along the road to Emmaus takes them back to the promise of Messiah.  God’s promise that one, descended of David, would come to fulfill the promises, to enter into this world, and to lead people once more into God’s ways.  And, all along the way they are feeling this “heart burn.”

            Maybe what Jesus said along the way did make them a bit queasy.  

The word of God has the potential to do that, to remind us of what we have left undone, what we’ve neglected, what we’ve forgotten. Maybe it is like that with these two, as Jesus opens the scriptures to them.  Maybe there is this queasy feeling that we should have remembered that all along!

            But mostly, we assume, what they feel welling up inside of them is a new sense of hope, and new understanding of what God has wanted of God’s people all along.   At very least, what they begin to feel is an urge to think of something else besides their own troubles.  They begin to notice something else besides their own sandal tops.  For, by the time they get to their destination for the night, they are ready now to offer hospitality again.  They are ready to invite this stranger, who is Jesus, in for dinner, and ready to give him a place to stay for the night.  They are ready to do what Jesus had taught his disciples to do, what God has been urging his people to do throughout the centuries.  They are ready to care for someone else, and to put their own needs in second place.

It is in extending that invitation to this stranger, who is indeed Jesus, that they at last recognize him.  He is made known to them at their table, in the breaking of the bread together.

There are a lot of things going on in this lesson, a lot we could get sidetracked into, but I want to hold us to these two things.

How is your heartburn?

And, how is your hospitality?

The two seem to go hand in hand.

If you’re a late night TV fan of Jay Leno, you may have seen his popular segment “Jaywalking”.  If not, here’s a clip from one that he did during holy week, interviewing people on the street about their knowledge of the bible.    Like most of the “Jaywalking” pieces, we may laugh at first, and simple bible questions like who were the children of Adam and Eve can’t be answered.

Then, we may think that it’s sad.

But the real point is this.  Before the scriptures can be opened to you, you have to know their story.  You have to be able to see what God has been up to with all this fussing with us throughout history.     Jesus, the stranger here on the road to Emmaus is connecting the dots for these two disciples who already know the stories.  And, as the dots are connected their consciences are quickened, their hearts are warmed, and their spirits are lifted.

You and I are the keepers of this story now.  We are the ones who are called upon to tell it, to know it, and to share it so that Jesus can come and meet and warm the heart.

Whether you like Leno’s routine or not, there is something unmistakable about what he does.  Even as he pokes fun at these people, and their knowledge or lack thereof, he is gracious.   He has a sense of welcome and openness about him that invites them into this conversation, and that lets them feel like it is all right to share their understanding, no matter how far off base it might be.

Leno is much better at that than the church is sometimes.   We are sometimes quick to judge, quick to correct, and quick to point out the mistakes and faults in others.

In the Emmaus Journey, the stranger who is Jesus, does something very similar.  He may call his two fellow companions on the way foolish at first, but then with his gentle conversation he engages them in a way that they can’t help walking with him and listening.

How’s your hospitality?    Are you ready to just let folks come in with whatever understanding they may have right now, and be open to inviting them to keep walking, keep listening, keep on being part of the journey that will end in fellowship?  Most are in their 20’s and 30’s.  They simply do not know the stories.   They do not know what they need to know to have their hearts burn within them, and they will not find it, unless we who know the story are willing to walk with them, in whatever form that takes, until they do know the stories that can lead them into faith.

How is your heartburn?  

How’s your hospitality?   

Those are two excellent questions to keep before us always.  What changes would we need to make here to let the jaywalkers we meet feel like they could walk here as well, and bring their questions and their lives to meet the stranger to them who is Jesus.


The Measure of Success

What makes for success?   According to the models employed by this world success is usually measured in terms of size.   If you are a successful company, you employ large numbers of people.

You are successful if your product or service dominates the market or at very least a select niche of the market.  
You are a success if your brand name is somehow able to infiltrate some area of daily life.  

That’s the measure of success, or so we are told by this world on a regular basis. 

If you want to see where success will get you, take a look at Oprah.  We only need to use her first name, it is a trade mark.  She has it all, power, resources, fame, and the ability to act and make a difference in this world.  
This is what we measure our own lives against far too often.   And when we measure ourselves against that kind of vision of success, guess what?   There aren’t too many of us in the room that measure up.

Now I want to give you a different vision of success.  It’s one found in today’s Gospel reading.    “When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”    After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

The scene is Sunday Evening, the day of Jesus’ resurrection.  The people gathered are Jesus’ disciples, his core followers, minus two.   Is this a success story?

Using the measure of success that this world employs we would have to say that Jesus himself is colossal failure.

On the day of resurrection, when the best, most successful thing to do– which is what every church tries to do on Easter, would be to make a big production of the resurrection with trumpets and costumes and T.V. Coverage – What Jesus chooses to do instead is to appear quietly in a little locked room to not even the full compliment of his disciples.  Is this a success story?

Yes.  But to see it you have to stop measuring Jesus by the success standards of this world.

Yes, this is a success story, but to see it you have to stop measuring yourself by the standards of this world as well.

The people in the locked room were the same people who had followed Jesus when he entered Jerusalem triumphantly with palm branches.  He looked like a classic success story then, just like a King like David, and they would be his right hand men. 

But the trial and crucifixion changed all that.   No more triumphal displays of affection.   Everyone in Jerusalem knew who had won three days ago.  The people in power won.  The old guard of the Temple, the Romans, Herod, the Sadduccees and Pharisees – they were the success stories in the end.    They held on to their power.  They had eliminated all threats, even this so called “Son of God.”    And though there have been reports even to them that this Jesus is now raised from the dead, they are still firmly in control of their temple, their city, and their province.   They had won.

The disciples are huddled licking their wounds.   They feel like failures.   They had given three years of their lives, and for what?   To end up with reputations as people who followed a crucified messiah?   They gave up three years of their lives to be seen as failures in the eyes of this world.  They couldn’t even follow him to the end!  When the heat was on, when the soldier came, instead of dying as martyrs by his side, they deserted him, denied him, and failed to trust in even one thing he said.

And now, this failure in the eyes of the world, Jesus, appears to them, breathes his Spirit on them, and says, “as the father has sent me, so I am going to send you.” 

Hear that for what it is he says.   
You will be sent in the same way that God sent Jesus.

You also will be sent not as a triumphant conqueror, but as one who ended his life and ministry not as a success story in the world’s eyes, but as a failure.

It’s essential that you hear that, because that is the central point to understanding the measure of success for the Christian.  

Success is not what this world makes it out to be!  

Success in God’s Kingdom is not about measuring up to this world’s standards.  
Instead, success is measured by working in the hearts of people.  It’s about breathing the spirit of God into their lives.  Success is measured by the ability to influence others so that they will commit themselves to God’s Kingdom.

That’s what Jesus is doing in a locked room.  
He comes as a failure, among failures, and breathes God’s Spirit upon them.  He opens the eyes of the disciples to see that the world does not need a quick fix, or a powerful ruler to whip the people into shape.  What this world needs are followers of Jesus who will breathe the Spirit of God into everyone they meet, that those people too might stop measuring themselves by this world’s standards.

I want to ask you an important question.   Which of the successful people at the end of the story of Jesus is still around?

Have you met a Sadduccee lately?    Been to the house of a Pharisee?   Do the Romans still rule in Palestine?  Is a descendant of Herod still on the Throne?  Everyone who was seen as successful in the world’s eyes at quelling the rabble-rouser Jesus has disappeared into history’s pages.

But today, people still tell about Jesus, and follow him.  
People still read the words of Peter and James and John – those failures who witnessed to the Son of God made flesh to dwell among us.

Who was successful in the end?  Those who used this world’s standards, or the ones in whom God’s Spirit had been breathed?

Don’t get caught in this world’s trap of what makes for success, as if that is all there is to live for.  It will lock you up tightly behind doors that you can’t open.   You may never be a success in this world’s eyes, and God says, that’s O.K.  

What God wants are disciples who will breathe God’s Spirit into others.  

What God wants are followers who will work from within, people who will love deeply.

That is what makes this Resurrection story a success story. 

What is the measure of success?   It is the measure of your willingness to be a servant, a disciple of Christ, and to pass the breath of life on to others who feel like failures, that they too might be brought back to life.