“Have You Been Accused Like Jesus?”                                           June 10, 2012

I Samuel 8:4-20 & Mark 3:20-35                                                     Stephens City UMC

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

I.                   In our Gospel lesson for today Jesus has drawn a crowd.

A.    Some people are there for what I would describe as good reasons.

1.     They are there because they want healed or they want someone they love healed and evil powers cast out.

2.     Others have come in hopes that their sins will be forgiven.

3.     Still others are attracted to Jesus because he teaches with authority.

4.     So there’s consensus that Jesus has power.

5.     Even his enemies would agree with that.

B.     Don’t be naïve, Jesus has enemies.

1.     The seeds for those disappointed in him or he’s challenged are taking root and the fruit of those seeds will produce the cross.

2.     One seed that is planted is that Jesus must be possessed by a demon to have the power to do all the things he is doing.

3.     Jesus’ response is straight forward and simple – evil spirits don’t do the things Jesus does.

4.     Evil spirits make people sick: Jesus heals people.

5.     Evil spirits ruin relationships; Jesus restores relationships.

6.     Evil spirits bring death; Jesus brings life and brings it abundantly.

7.     So there are a significant number people who are saying Jesus is evil while there are others who say he is crazy.

C.     In fact, that is what his own family is saying about him.

1.     I guess that’s nicer – “He’s not evil, he’s just crazy.”

2.     So pick your accusations – evil or crazy.

D.    I’ve already talked about Jesus’ response to the accusation that he was evil.

1.     What about the accusation that he’s crazy?

2.     In Mark 3:21 the literal reading of the Greek would be, “He’s gone existemi!” which means “He is out of his mind.”

3.     Word of his mental condition has reached his mother and his brothers (and undoubtedly the rest of the family).

4.     “The man is not rational!” people are saying.

5.     This is so embarrassing to the family back in Nazareth that a small group of them walk the 25 miles over to Capernaum to fetch him.

6.     They’ve got to stop him from saying crazy things like “I am the Good Shepherd and because I take that role seriously I will die for my sheep.”

7.     To some people sheep weren’t worth a plug nickel and he’s willing to die for them.

8.     Here’s another “If you want to mature in the faith then become like a child. There’s no way you are getting into heaven unless you become child-like.”

9.      And how about “Blessed are you poor”?

10.                         That’s a standard goal for a lot of people, to become poor.

11.                         I mean you hear children saying that all the time “When I grow up I want to be the poorest person on earth.”

12.                         And Jesus follows that up with “Blessed are you who are hungry.”

13.                         Oh, feeling hungry is definitely a blessed feeling.

14.                         Can’t get enough of that one.

II.                 Really, this stuff coming out of Jesus’ mouth is crazy talk unless you understand it from Jesus’ point of view.

A.    Jesus doesn’t think like the crowd of people (you should be uncomfortable after hearing that because you are a small crowd).

1.     Here Jesus is trying to get you to break with the security of the crowd and find your security in him and his way of life.

2.     In essence he is saying, “I know that 9 out of 10 people think a certain way, but I want you to have a different sort of mind.”

3.     The Apostle Paul is eager to jump in at this point and humbly point out that he once wrote “Have this mind among you, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)

B.     When you have that sort of mind you stop focusing on yourself and you start focusing on what you can do to be a servant of God.

1.     When you have that sort of mind you get worked up about people whose lives are controlled by drugs and alcohol and other addictions.

2.     When you have that sort of mind you conclude helping children and visiting the shut-ins and feeding the hungry and providing shelter for the homeless and welcoming the stranger is a purpose driven life in comparison with the life of a profit margin purpose driven stock broker.

3.     When you have that sort of mind people will think you are crazy and may want to sit down with you to have a talk just like Jesus’ family wanted to have a talk with him.

4.     So having heard all this for today what do you think is reasonable and rational?

C.     Of what mind are you?

1.     My hope is that you are existemi like Jesus and that you’d become a new kind of crowd.

2.     I know this doesn’t sound rational but I think it would be great if our neighbors started talking about those crazy people over at Stephens City United Methodist Church.

3.     “We’ve heard what you are doing and we’re worried about contagious existemi – stop or it may spread to the rest of us.”

D.    Someone who actually did what I am talking about was Jack Twyman who died last week.

1.     Jack Twyman was a professional basketball player in the 1950’s and 1960’s with the Cincinnati Royals.

2.     He was a six time All-Star and along with Wilt Chamberlain was the first NBA player to average over 30 points a game for a regular season.

3.     But it was not his on-court accomplishments that make him worth emulating but his off the court accomplishments.

4.     When Twyman entered the NBA in 1955 there was another rookie on the Royals who was actually their star player.

5.     His name was Maurice Stokes.

6.     Stokes was Rookie of the Year and made the All-Star Team that year and the next two.

7.     The great Boston Celtics’ coach Red Auerbach described Stokes as “Magic Johnson without flair. (Savannahnow.com, June 1, 2012)

8.     Life for Stokes changed during the Royal’s last regular season game in 1958 in Minneapolis against the Lakers.

9.      Stokes drove the lane, fell backwards over another player and slammed his head on the court.

10.             He was knocked unconscious but smelling salts were used to bring him back so he could finish the game and that was about as far as his medical treatment went.

11.             A few days later he started in a first round play-off game in Detroit against the Pistons and after the game the team got on a plane to fly back to Cincinnati.

12.             Stokes was carrying in his pocket the engagement ring he was going to give his sweetheart.

13.             During the flight Stokes told a teammate, “I feel like I’m going to die,” suffered a seizure and lapsed into a coma.

14.             An ambulance was waiting for him when the plane landed but it turned out he had a post-trauma injury which had destroyed that part of his brain that controlled motor skills.

15.             Stokes would never walk again.

16.             As Jack Twyman said, “How would you like to be one of the premier athletes in the world on a Saturday? Then on Sunday, you go into a coma and wake up, totally paralyzed, except for the use of (your) eyes and brain. I mean, can you imagine anything worse?”

17.             Well, there was something worse – the NBA had next to nothing in place in the way of medical and life insurance.

18.             Stokes was expected to pay all his medical bills on his own.

19.             In terms of care and cost the best option was for him to stay in Cincinnati but the only teammate who lived in Cincinnati year round to help was Jack Twyman and that’s when Jack Twyman’s Christian faith kicked in.

20.             Twyman did a crazy thing.

21.             He stepped up and became Maurice Stokes’ legal guardian, oversaw his medical care and organized fundraisers and gave his own money to pay for Stokes’ medical bills.

22.             Twyman’s sanity was questioned for taking on this obligation which in the late 1950’s made even less sense to a lot of people because Twyman was white and Stokes was black and few people back then had close friendships that crossed racial lines.

23.             Stokes died twelve years later at the age of 36 of a heart attack but every Sunday for those twelve years Jack Twyman arranged for Maurice Stokes to be transported to Twyman’s house for Sunday dinner.

24.             Stokes said it was the highlight of his week and it brought meaning and joy to his life.

25.             But it was Twyman who always said that Maurice Stokes did more for him and his family than they did for his friend.

26.             Jack Twyman died on May 30 of blood cancer but the story of his crazy actions, when he went existemi, lives on.

III.              Jesus was accused of being existemi by a crowd.

A.    Jack Twyman was accused of being existemi by the crowds of his day.

1.     What have you been accused of?

2.     Is there a crowd of people who would accuse you of playing it safe and sane?

3.     Jesus was never accused of that.

4.     What do the crowds that make up the vast majority of this community accuse us of here at Stephens City United Methodist Church?

5.     Would most people accuse us of being safe and sane, good, solid, never take any risks, and never get outside of the comfort zone, sort of folks?

6.     Is that the sort of crowd Jesus is looking for?

7.     Is that the sort of family members Jesus hopes will come to be with him?

8.     Know that you are among the blessed whenever you get accused of being existemi and if you haven’t then it’s probably a good time to make an adjustment.