2018-06-10- Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato
JESUS’ FAMILY VALUES
Last week we left Jesus and the crowd in a state of awe… the paralyzed man stood up….and IMMEDIATELY took the mat and went out before ALL of them…
They were ALL amazed…saying “We have never seen anything like this!”
Lots has happened since then!
Jesus has called some of his first disciples…and he’s talked about mending clothes and making wine…and he’s gotten in more trouble than ever…it only takes until chapter 3 before the religious authorities want to kill this upstart prophet.
We read in 3:6 that:
“The Pharisees went out and IMMEDIATELY conspired with King Herod’s administration on how to DESTROY him.”
And in today’s story Jesus presents himself as a thieving “break and entry” marauder!
Is it any wonder why his family believes that “he’s out of his mind?”
Our story begins, again, with Jesus in a crowded house…there’s so much commotion that he and his disciples can’t even get a bite to eat…
And the noise! And it’s not the heckling of strangers…it’s the dulcet, lovely tones of Jesus’ family….yelling at him!?!
Jesus’ family is “concerned” for their kin…and at this point, they are trying to wrench him away from the crowd to do an intervention (Ya know, Jesus, this rising to fame Messiah thing is going to get you in a world of hurt! You sure you know what you’ve signed on for here?).
Jesus’ family has joined in on the chorus… “He’s lost his mind…lost his mind!”
Then the scribes join in the kerfuffle. They are fearful for different reasons…this upstart religious zealot is disrupting their order and decorum in “worshipping the Lord” and if this gets out of hand it could really affect their lifestyle and even their pocketbooks.
JESUS reprimands them both…with a parable…he shouts to the noisy crowd:
You are calling ME… SATAN?
How can Satan cast out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided it cannot stand.
If a house is divided it cannot stand.
If Satan is divided he cannot stand.
Yes, Satan’s end has come, but not because of the rise of Satan!
NO ONE can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without
First tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
What a wild parable eh? Remember, a parable is a story that Jesus is “parabola-ing” (laying alongside) the life of his hearers.
And how does Jesus present himself? As the good shepherd? The bread of life? The gate to good pastures?
Nope. In the gospel of Mark, Jesus is presented as the “house plunderer.”
The “break and entry burglar.”
In this parable, Satan is the householder. And Jesus is the B & E Burglar who ties him up so he can make off with his belongings.
This is good news!
It’s good news for the Markan groupies 2000 years ago…and it’s good news for us!
If Jesus can rescue property from Satan (and the seemingly gripping powers of evil of our present times) then Satan must be already tied up and defeated.
That means that if Jesus is alive (think Easter!) and on the loose…then Jesus continues to break into the world even today…compassionately seeking to save the lost & the hurting, releasing the oppressed from the grip of evil.
Now the bad news is that there’s stuff that still stands in Jesus’ way…
It’s the stuff of family…and the stuff of scribes…
And you and I are prone to fall in either/both categories…
We look at this Jesus who is on the loose, bringing dead things to life, causing a commotion, affirming people who break through roof tops to get their friends healed ….and we say “Jesus, do you really want to make a life of this? This, making things complicated and messy and us never really knowing what you are up to next? We would just like you to settle down…get domesticated…get a girlfriend…in fact, get a wife, get married, settle down…we’ll even pay for the wedding…we’ll cover the tab….you name the place and we’ll take care of it really! All you need to do is just…tone it down…it was just so much better when you weren’t causing such a ruckus in our lives…you’re gonna get yourself killed if you’re not more careful!”
Or if we’re not getting familial…we get “scribe-al” ….
We’re uneasy with this colouring-outside-the-lines Jesus. This rule breaker. This by-law, policies and procedures transgressor. In fact, sometimes our hearts get so hardened by our need to control and suppress, that we speak works of damnation/cessation to the creative, outpouring of the Holy Spirit!?!
We look at true-blue-birthed from the heart of heaven miracles and we call it the work of the Devil.
Yikes! This is what Jesus names as the “eternal sin.”
Can we talk about the eternal sin….? That seems important hmmm?
I’d like to note that Jesus is offering a stern warning here…and my understanding is this….that the unforgiveable sin “forms” if we perpetually look at the plundering, world-changing, boundary-bashing ways of Jesus and we stubbornly fold our arms and look God in the face and say: Balderdash. That’s the devil’s work…that couldn’t be of God.
Do that long enough, fervently enough….and our hearts harden, and harden and harden…until it seems impossible for our hearts to let God soften them up again…or for us to unfold our stubbornly stiff arms. (Eternal party poopers is what Robert Capon calls them)
So can we admit that we are prone to wander…yes we feel it…prone to leave the one we love?
We are nervous family members. Trying to hem in Jesus.
Or we’re tight-fisted religious devotees. Scared that we might lose our way and our control.
But lest we forget…Jesus is a plundering thief.
He breaks and bashes into our lives…he intrudes into the hallways of our hearts, souls, bodies and minds…and he sweeps us up into his arms and declares “mine!”… “I got you!”
He’s already conquered. He’s already vanquished our every foe.
And though he’s stolen us away from the grips of the enemy, he still gives us the freedom to follow.
So in these early weeks of Pentecost…let’s keep making a way for the Spirit’s fresh wind…fresh fire…
Q: If you’re being too “familial” – What is Jesus is asking you to stop naming as “crazy” and instead name it as the “work of the Holy Spirit.”
Q: If you’re being too “scribe-al” – What is Jesus inviting you to “unfold your arms” about? Quit being so hard-hearted…and let Jesus tear something apart…or burst your bubble…or a wineskin or 2!
–Whenever we see/sense the liberating work of God…let us NOT resist it…especially in the name of God!?!
>> EG of resisting in the name of God :::: In North American Christianity, in these uncertain, tumultuous times, there is a new wave of “Christian Certainty”… a hunkering down or battening down of the hatches where certain pockets of Christianity are saying “we are going to be more biblical and truth-telling than ever!”
And this turns into a new wave of what I would name as “Christian Resistance” towards what God is doing in the world…
Ie. Women are powerful and have a voice in the world and yet there are pockets of Christianity that are doubling down saying that “women need to submit to men in the context of marriage and church leadership.”
Ie. There are gay Christians in the world who are earnestly seeking to serve and love Jesus, and find churches who welcome them into fellowship/membership and yet there is a wave of Christianity that says “no way, not on our turf, not on our watch.”
Ie. God is doing a new and holy work in religions other than Christianity, and there is a resistance to see this as anything more than a sneaky way of getting accepted by the larger culture so that these “others/outsiders” can then take over our cities and our civil rights.
Wherever we see/sense the liberating work of God, let us NOT resist it.
Let’s join in on the Holy Spirit’s work of grace, mercy and love…that is changing the world because, yes! We believe, that God is making all things new…
QUOTE: “All the tidy distinctions between and among people that serve to structure conventional life are left behind in the wake of Jesus’ call to follow him.”
“Jesus honours what society shames
and dismisses what the world around him most honours.”
~ Elizabeth Johnson
QUOTE: Ched Meyers describes those who Jesus says are “aligned against God’s purposes”…
“To be captive to the way things are, to resist criticism and change, to brutally suppress efforts at humanization – is to be bypassed by the grace of God.”
May God’s grace pour out upon us so that we can pour it out to all the world.
Let us give way to God’s upending, door-bashing, house-thieving ways.
Let’s allow God to soften our hearts.
So that we might FOLLOW HIM.
And in the following….in the bearing of grace, in the welcoming of the other….
We will DO THE WILL OF GOD.
And we’ll renew our role…as brothers, sisters and mothers of Jesus.
Be welcomed again… to the imperfect, messed up, busting-up-barriers, family of Jesus.