Archive for the ‘Sermon’ Category
Last week, Jesus, pushing through a crowd, was secretly touched by a woman who’ d been bleeding for 12 years; her bleeding stopped. She who’d been untouchable by the rules of the day touched him; she was then well, and he became untouchable. She gets well. He takes on her “uncleanness.”
And then he touched a 12 year old girl who had recently died. He was now “unclean” twice-over (touching a dead body made him so a second time), but the girl was alive. She gets life. He takes on her “uncleanness.”
And the next thing that happens is that Jesus, the now-famous, compassionate, but scandalously irreligious traveling teacher, goes home to Nazareth. And while he’s been amazing everyone, at Nazareth, Jesus is amazed.
What could possibly amaze Jesus? Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s the last half of my Palm Sunday sermon. In the opening, I talked about how obvious it must have seemed to Jesus’ Palm Sunday followers that he was beginning a military coup. Find out why at Disclosing New Worlds.
There’s no question in their minds that Jesus is there to conquer. And Jesus has intentionally played the part. He knows the local puppet governor will hear. He knows the Roman military machine will hear. And he knows he’s throwing rebellion in their faces.
How will tyrants respond? Think of shouts of “Free Tibet!” in Lhasa. Or the student uprising in Tienanmen Square. Or singing the Chechen national anthem in public in Chechnya. Peasants pitching rebellion are crushed without mercy.
Extra troops were in Jerusalem during the Passover, in preparation for this very kind of thing. Passover, after all, was about the liberation of the Jews from a foreign government. The Romans would be putting on a show of force.
He’s come to wage war, all right – but no one is understanding what kind of war he’ll fight. The Romans are small potatoes to him – he’s waging war on death and darkness and power, and he’ll defeat them all.
But the crowd’s expecting literal war. And that’s not what Jesus does.
How strange it is that everybody there makes that mistake, and we study it, and wonder how they can have missed it. And then our generation reads Revelation’s war-talk and assumes without question that Jesus’ will return in the future to fight a violent war. As McLaren observes, when Jesus comes back to fight, his mighty sword comes out of his mouth! I want to smack my head. How could I have overlooked the obviously metaphorical language used there?
Could we still be like the 1st century crowd, expecting Jesus to bring war? Could we be making the same mistake? Doesn’t it matter that warfare is completely inconsistent with everything Jesus demonstrated?
But here’s another strange thing: It’s all outside the city.
See the last verse? He goes to the temple, looks around, heads for Bethany. Once inside the city, the acclaim is gone.
Outside of it, the crowds adore him. Inside of it – in the seat of religious power and government power – nobody shows up. As Lawrence Moore writes at Disclosing New Worlds: Read the rest of this entry »
In the aftermath of World War II, many European intellectuals (later joined by Americans and many others) were forced to ask this question: how could this have happened? This referred to two world wars, and especially the Holocaust. […] They diagnosed the sickness that had befallen Western civilization in general and “Christian” Germany in particular to be excessive confidence.
Mark 1:21-28 (NIV*)
21They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.
Strange thing to say, isn’t it? Rabbis certainly did have authority to teach the Scriptures. But when Jesus spoke, something else happened.
And as if to prove it:
23Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24″What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
Remember, we’re in Chapter 1 here. Who else in the room would have even thought this? Virtually no one but Jesus himself. How shocked they must have been to hear it. What a statement!
And what a source! Jesus reacts immediately. First:
Why would he shush, if it’s true? Why would an evil spirit say it, anyway? Read the rest of this entry »