It’s time for my annual
post-Easter message. This year, I’m going to
focus on “the leftovers,” the folks who learn a
song after the Sunrise Service and Men’s
Breakfast and then perform it during Easter
Worship. It’s been my good fortune to be a part
of “the leftovers” for most of the time I’ve
been a part of Maplewood UMC.
After the crucifixion, the original
disciples were, in a sense, “leftovers” too.
They were the only ones left of the throngs who
had followed him, cheering, less than a week
before (Matt. 21:8-11; Mark 11:8-10;
Luke19:36-40; John 12:12-18). Only one of the
twelve disciples, “the disciple whom he loved,”
was present at the crucifixion (John 19:26 ESV).
The rest had fled. It’s fashionable to look down
on Peter but at least he stuck around, along
with “another disciple” (John 18:15 ESV); the
other disciples ran away after Jesus was
Even after the resurrection, there was
nothing left but a ragtag band of misfits who
weren’t wanted, except by the authorities (John
20:19). Leftovers. They were the ones who were
left after everyone else fell away. Jesus had
once asked the disciples, “‘Do you want to go
away as well?’” (John 6:67b ESV). And Peter
replied, “‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have
the words of eternal life,’” (vs. 68b ESV). They
had nowhere to go, no one to turn to except each
other and their shared faith.
But the savior who said “‘And behold, I
am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
(Matt. 28:20b ESV) is the same God who led
Isaiah to say in faith, “‘[F]ear not, for I am
with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I
will strengthen you, I will help you, I will
uphold you with my righteous right hand.’” (Isa.
41:10 ESV). God won’t let us go, God will never
Before his crucifixion, Jesus had told
the disciples, “Behold, the hour is coming,
indeed it has come, when you will be scattered,
each to his own home, and will leave me alone.”
(John 16:32a ESV). He knew what would happen.
But he also knew his friends wouldn’t remain
“scattered.” The Holy Spirit would come to them
and empower them for the task that lay ahead of
The same Holy Spirit who prepared them to
be disciples is ready to equip us. We are
empowered “Not by might, nor by power, but by my
Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.” (Zech. 4:6b
ESV). The “leftovers” became the seed for the
church of which we are a part today. Jesus had
told the disciples, “‘The kingdom of God is as
if a man should scatter seed on the ground.’”
(Mark 4:26b ESV). In the parable, the Gospel is
the seed but so are we. God plants us and
expects us to grow and flourish.
In time, empowered by the Holy Spirit,
those original “leftovers” became thousands of
believers (Acts 2:41; 4:4). After he and John
had healed a beggar, the religious authorities
asked Peter, “‘By what power or by what name did
you do this?’” (Acts 4:7b ESV). And he replied
“‘[B]y the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,
whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead . .
.’” (vs. 10b ESV). Peter wasn’t
alone; the Holy Spirit was present with him; he
also knew there were thousands of other
Christians with him who would carry on the
mission of the church.
A skillful cook like my wife, Charlotte,
can turn leftovers into a delicious a creative
meal. An even more skilled savior can turn
“leftovers” like Peter and John, you and me,
into a church, a meal fit to satisfy a hungry
world. Jesus told Peter to “‘Feed my sheep.’”
(John 21:17b ESV). We are called to do the same
today. If we feed them in Jesus’ name, we can
show the risen Christ to the world.
“‘You are the light of the world. A city
set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people
light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a
stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before
others, so that they may see your good works and
give glory to your Father who is in heaven.’”
(Matt. 5:14-16 ESV.)