Applying for a job is scary, scary thing. You see a job description, think you may be good at it, and then you start the application process. And as you start filling out the paperwork, you inevitably have a moment of, “What am I DOING? Do I actually have a shot at getting this job???”
And then there’s the resume. Resumes can be tricky things. You give your schooling, your credentials, your skills on a piece of paper—and then hope that you catch an employer’s eye.
The thing is, though, you always want to sound as good as possible on your resume so that they’ll want to give you the job. And sometimes, there are less than desirable facts about your job history or how much schooling you actually have.
So, on occasion people bend the truth a bit… and unfortunately, some people out-and-out lie to make themselves look better.
And sometimes, people get away with it, if the lie is a small one. But if the lie is a bit more extravagant, well, chances are they’ll get caught.
The job search website Careerbuilder.com surveyed a bunch of hiring managers, asking them to list the most outrageous tall tales and bold-faced lies job applicants had put on their resumes. Here are just a few:
1. Candidate claimed to be a member of the Kennedy family
2. Applicant invented a school that did not exist
3. Job seeker submitted a résumé with someone else's photo inserted into the document
4. Candidate claimed to be a member of Mensa
5. Applicant claimed to have worked for the hiring manager before, but never had
6. Job seeker claimed to be the CEO of a company when he was an hourly employee
7. Candidate listed military experience dating back to before he was born
8. Job seeker included samples of work, which were actually those of the interviewer
9. Candidate claimed to have been a professional baseball player
It seems like job applicants will say almost anything just to convince employers they are worthy of being hired!
In our Gospel reading today from Luke, we’ve got a guy who’s applying to have his slave healed—and Jesus is the one he’s applying to. And it sounds like he has a pretty impressive resume. Although he is a Roman soldier (a centurion), it’s clear he has helped the Jewish people out quite a bit—in fact, it’s some Jewish elders that he sends to Jesus, asking if Jesus would be willing to heal the slave.
The Jewish elders are very eager to share the centurion’s impressive resume with Jesus. They tell Jesus, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.”
So this Roman soldier, despite being an employee of the emperor, loves the Jews and built their place of worship for them. Because of what he’s done, the elders believe he is “worthy” to have Jesus do the healing.
And—unlike the job applicants who made stuff up—we know his credentials are true, because it’s the Jewish elders who are telling about them, not the guy himself! Clearly, they say, he’s worthy to have this miracle done for him.
Worthy. Not a word we use a lot, but we probably still know what it means. Dictionary.com defines “worthy” as being “of commendable excellence or merit, deserving.” So basically, this guy’s resume, according to the elders, is excellent enough that the man is deserving of Jesus’ healing miracle for the slave. He’s “worthy.”
So here’s your Greek lesson for today—the word used in the original Greek here is “axio.” It’s usually translated as deserving, eligible, or worthy. This is the root of the word axiomatic—anyone know what that means…? It means something is obvious—you don’t need to prove it or argue about it. So, the Jewish elders are so sure that this centurion is obviously worthy of this healing, that they believe no other proof or argument is necessary.
In our world today, we still assess the worthiness of people. We may think someone isn’t worthy enough to do something because of their lack of experience or age, or something else. We may look at someone and decide whether they are worthy to talk to or work with. Bosses and employers are constantly looking at whether someone is worthy to hire, or promote, or give a Christmas bonus to.
And because we are so focused on worthiness in our world—if someone has done enough to deserve something— we begin to think about what that means in our own lives.
We may even wonder if we are worthy—if our life resume, so to speak, is good enough—for ourselves, for others, maybe even for God. We may feel we don’t deserve anything because of our past, or our constant mistakes, or the fact that we aren’t Mother Theresa or Martin Luther King, Jr. If we follow that logic, we, for all intents and purposes, are unworthy of God’s love and mercy and forgiveness because we are imperfect.
Despite his amazing resume, the centurion is aware that he isn’t perfect and is unworthy of Jesus’ healing. As Jesus gets closer to the house, he sends some friends out to give Jesus his message. He says, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed.”
“I am not worthy.” Rather than trying to puff up his resume even more so that Jesus will be persuaded to do the healing, the centurion knows that no matter what he does—because he is a flawed human being—he will never be completely worthy of Jesus’ power.
And Jesus is amazed at the faith of this Roman centurion, and heals the slave without even stepping foot in the house.
You see, Jesus’ idea of worthiness and our idea of worthiness are two different things. We base someone’s worth on what they’ve done, said, or look like—their earthly resume. We sometimes base our own worth on it, too.
Jesus, however, completely bypasses the earthly resume, because that will always fall short. No matter how many amazing things we’ve done, our resume will never make us perfect. We will always have those less desirable things on our resume that we are tempted to lie about or hide, like those poor job applicants at the beginning of the sermon.
But Jesus doesn’t even think about our earthly resume. He loves us and forgives us and cares for us even though our resume is lacking.
In fact, Jesus rips up our earthly resume and makes us worthy of his love himself. He sacrificed his life on the cross so that we would be worthy of God’s love, even when we are imperfect. We are of ultimate worth, no matter what the world says.
Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we are worthy.
In the 1990s, there were two movies made, based on a Saturday Night Live skit called Wayne’s World, with Mike Myers and Dana Carvey. The movies followed two average guys, Wayne and Garth, who host a weekly talk show on a local public access channel late Friday nights. One of the major topics they talk about is music. They talk about famous bands and musicians with awe and wonder and reverence.
So you can imagine that when they do meet some famous musicians over the course of the movies, they are beside themselves. In fact, whenever they come across a famous rockstar or band, they fall on their knees, bow to them, and chant “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”
Near the end of the movie, they finally get to meet the band Aerosmith. As usual, they fall to their knees. “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy”
The lead singer of the band, Steven Tyler, looks down at the guys and says “You’re worthy! You’re worthy! Get UP!”
We are the ones bowing down before Jesus chanting “We are not worthy!”, and, like Steven Tyler, Jesus tells us that we are indeed worthy—and Jesus tells us to rise in his name.
YOU are worthy to receive Jesus’ love and forgiveness because Jesus has made you worthy! You could have the worst resume in the world—Jesus’ love isn’t based on your resume. His love has no conditions, no strings attached. He has made you deserving and worthy of his love. You are worthy. Amen?