Third Sunday after Pentecost, June 10, 2018
Year B, Proper 5: 1 Samuel 8:4-1, (12-15), 16-20, (11:14-15); Psalm 138; 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1; Mark 3:20-35
CLICK HERE to listen to the recorded sermon.
Today’s passage from Mark’s gospel is chock full of homiletical images nuggets. Any one preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ today would have a variety of options in how they take this sermon.
“A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand”. That certainly seems rather prescient in today’s world.
“How can Satan cast out Satan?” Think about it. Jesus has just been accused of being Satan.
“Whoever blasphemes the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness”.
This Gospel calls into question family, who is family, how we behave, the nature of “eternal” sin.
First, I invite you to think about Gospel of Mark. We’re going to be spending the coming months hearing from this Gospel. What do we know about Jesus in Mark’s Gospel. The basic message of Mark is that Jesus has come to liberate us. Jesus has come to heal us and to make us whole.
We know from the first chapter of Mark that the crowds follow Jesus from the very beginning. Back in chapter one, Jesus heals Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. The people hear about this and the whole city begins to follow Jesus.
Jesus continues his ministry of healing, and the crowds continue to follow him. The crowds get so big that Jesus and his disciples have to stay out in the wilderness for a time.
In today’s passage we learn that Jesus has come home. For many of us, though certainly not all, going home means going to a place of comfort. This certainly isn’t the case in the passage we have just heard. He’s back in his hometown. He and the disciples can’t even eat. I mean really, one of the things I used to love about going home to where I grew up was having my mother’s or grandmother’s homecooked food. My favorite meal was pork, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. But a nice, homecooked meal isn’t what Jesus is experiencing. He’s experiencing rejection, he’s being charged with demonic activity and his family and friends think he might quite literally be a bit crazy.
Think about the people Jesus was around.
In this gospel passage there are basically four types of people. Jesus and his disciples are there. His spiritual compatriots, those charged with taking the Good News to others. Then there are the scribes, the religious authorities, who have come from Jerusalem. They’re the big wigs: basically, the House of Bishops who have arrived en masse.
The teachers of the law (the scribes) were not bad people – they were concerned about true faith. I suspect they were thinking to themselves – “this guy isn’t doing religion in the right way. This isn’t the way we understand it”. Truth be told I think we can probably be that way sometimes.
If you’re a member of Jesus’ family you want the nice, polite Jesus. Even in church, I suspect that we really like the Jesus who brings us the bread and wine, and the Jesus who welcomes little children. We’re less comfortable, I think, with the Jesus who keeps breaking free from expectations and crossing boundaries is a bit more disorderly and chaotic. The disorderly and chaotic Jesus is the one whom the crowd accuses of acting on behalf of the “ruler of demons” and being “out of his mind”.
Then there’s Jesus’ statement about his family. It seems that there are some quite harsh statements about family in this gospel passage. Jesus’ family was probably a little embarrassed by his actions, but I suspect they’re really worried about his state of mind. The gospel tells us his family went out to restrain him. The original Greek word for “restrain” means to seize or to bodily grab him. That’s intense. It shows how much Jesus’ family is worried about him. We hear from Jesus what sound like a rather dismissive reply. “who are my mother and my brothers”.
They just want to help. I’m sure, we’ve all had times when we tried to help a family member. When that help is rejected it leaves us feeling miserable, confused and unappreciated. I can only imagine how Jesus’ family felt.
In reality, as strange as it may seem, Jesus wasn’t rejecting his mother or brothers. He was expanding the concept of family to include his spiritual family, not just his biological family.
Think about who among the people in this story you would like to be.
My first reaction is that I’d like to put myself among the disciples in the house with Jesus. Part of his close supporters. His compadres. Those he has chosen to go with him from place to place. Great place, right?
Do I want to be a scribe? Maybe not such a terrible place to be if you like rules and order as so many of us do.
What about being a family member? Not so bad if our family is one who looks out for us and whom we are close to. It sounds like Jesus’ family felt close to him and wanted the best for him.
But what is it like to be a part of the crowd?
Think about what the crowd is seeking. Jesus has come to make them (and us) whole. Throughout the gospels, it’s the crowds who understand that. The people in the crowd needed Jesus. They wanted to get close to him, to be touched by him, to be healed and made whole by him. Isn’t that what we all want from Jesus?
The crowds knew that Jesus could Jesus make them whole.
How do we experience the love and hope of Jesus today?
Yesterday, my friend and mentor, Mitties, was laid to rest in California. I have a very clear recollection of a discussion we once had. She knew a kindergartener who had really loved a chapel song that went: “Allelu, allelu, alleluia, praise ye the Lord.” He used to sing it for his mother. Despite the mother’s insistence that the final line was “Praise ye, the Lord”, this little boy insisted that the final line was “Crazy, the Lord.” Crazy, the Lord.
Mitties loved that and used it to convey a six-year old’s summary of a Lord who is crazy in love with us.
– Crazy, the Lord, who chooses vulnerable, sinful human beings to receive and reflect God’s tremendous love to the world.
– Crazy, the Lord, who entrusts us with choices and actions that matter, as peacemakers, as proclaimers, prophets and priests.
– Crazy, the Lord, who tell us that whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
If Christ is charged with being crazy, it’s craziness that’s alive with hope.
To “be in Christ” is to follow Jesus the best way we can. To “be in Christ” means to allow Jesus to transform us into a spiritual family, sometimes in ways that seem crazy to the outside world.
The love and hope of Jesus is proclaiming Jesus as “Crazy, the Lord” like the six year old.
I’d ask us to always have hope in Jesus as our collect reminds us: “O God, from whom all good proceeds.” Let us never refuse to hope and let us allow ourselves to be drawn closer to the love of Christ, to be touched and to be healed, and to do the will of God in Christ Jesus. Let us pray to see where God is acting in the world and respond in our own faithful, personal, or crazy way.
The sermons are recorded at St. Andrew’s and uploaded by Kemp Miller, for whose ministry we are all grateful. You can listen to this sermon by clicking the link above, but to access the library of audio files for recent sermons, CLICK HERE.