First Sunday after Trinity – Sermon 214

1st After Trinity

Holy Communion 10am CW

10th June 2012

Bible References :

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Prayer to Start

 

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ

 

AMEN

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Two stories that illuminate the background to the Gospel passage you’ve just heard.

 

Point 1        The Stories

 

A Carpenter’s Shop in Nazareth

 

Tobias set out on a journey to Nazareth – with his donkey – in order to purchase a new banqueting table for his master.  The road to Nazareth was long – and little more than a goat track – that wound its way eastwards into the Galilean pastures form the low lying coastal planes of the west –

 

 

After a three hour walk – he arrived in the town – and promptly went into the Carpenter’s shop – one he’d been told about – and there met a man called James –

 

They exchanged greetings –  and after finding a suitable table that would satisfy his master’s needs – haggling over the price – until an agreement was reached – they loaded the table onto the donkey  – ready for his journey back –

 

‘So this is Nazareth’ – said Tobias – ‘the town where Jesus is from’ – ‘Which Jesus are you talking about?’ asked James.

 

‘Oh you know, Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth’ – said Tobias, -‘Everybody is talking about Him’ –

 

What do people say about this Jesus, asked James, ‘Some say He is a miracle worker, or a prophet, like John the Baptist, some even say He is the Messiah, the chosen one of God.’

 

James looked down trying to contain his nervousness. –

 

‘And exactly where is this Jesus the prophet’ – said James,

 

Oh – a merchant told me He was in a town in Capernahum – course He moves around a lot – it’s hard to say where He is –

 

The men said their farewells – and James marched hurriedly back into the shop – to the back room –

 

‘Mother! I know where He is’ –

 

Mary looked up with her face tired – and worn but said nothing –

 

‘He has to be stopped Mother’ – said James – He’s destroying our family name  – if He is not careful – He will get Himself killed – with all the things He is doing – and saying –

 

But Mary remained still – and continued her mending –

 

James rubbed his face with His hands – and knelt down in front of her – Mother you know what we have to do – It’s for His own good –

 

Mary looked up – her eyes moist with tears – she nodded her agreement – and looked down again at the garment she was mending –

 

‘It’s decided then’ – said James, – ‘we go to Him – We bring Him back!’

 

A Banqueting Room in Jerusalem

 

Ciaphas sat at the table with his guests.  There were two priests, a merchant form Gaul and three leaders form Galilee –

 

The food was brought out regularly – and they discussed many things – everything from Roman power – to Jewish Scruples –

 

Then a messenger came in a whispered something in Ciaphas’ ear – to which his face turned red with anger.

 

He rose from the table – went hurriedly to a side room and gestured the two priests to follow.

 

Once in the room he slammed his fist onto the wall  – and turned round to the priests – ‘It’s worse than we first thought – The Galiliean – the one called Jesus – His popularity with the crowds grows every day –His fame and honour increases – and ours decreases –

 

We know where this is going – He must be stopped – now!

 

‘Shall we kill Him?’ – said one of the priests

 

‘No’ said Ciaphas, ‘that will only make Him a martyr – we don’t need to destroy Him – only humiliate Him in public.’

 

‘Disgrace Him, thoroughly’ said Ciaphas – then He won’t be worth following.  You know what to do.  Make it so.

 

Point 2        The Gospel Reading

 

Our Gospel reading about Jesus being mad – or at league with the devil – and about His confrontation with the experts form Jerusalem –  and His family  – is certainly not one that would have been made up by His followers.

 

The Priests and Scribes didn’t like what Jesus was doing – because He didn’t fit into their categories – and Jesus wasn’t accredited by them – so He had to be stopped – He had to be sidelined.

If He was possessed by the devil – that would explain it – and it would justify them doing what they wanted to contain – and control Him –

 

But Jesus doesn’t respond in kind – He doesn’t lash back with an instant label for the Scribes – He merely points out the flaw in their thinking –

 

How can satan cast our satan? – Jesus said – He would be fighting against himself – if a civil war was to break out in a kingdom – it would be the end of the kingdom – if members of a household fight amongst themselves- it’s the end of the household –

 

So if the devil is fighting the devil – the devil’s kingdom must be coming to an end – so what Jesus is doing  – cannot be against God’s will – and therefore He must be doing the work of God’s kingdom –

 

But of course their labeling was wrong – and made up – and Jesus gave them a true account of what was going on –

 

Someone stronger than the strong man – who finds his house being burgled – has now arrived says Jesus

 

The Strong Man has been constrained – and the kingdom in which people have been held captive by him – have been set free –

 

Jesus also reminds them that once they label the work of the Holy Spirit – as the work of the devil – there is no way back – because they have become blind to the truth –

 

If you decide that the doctor who is giving you s life-saving operation is there to kill you – there is no way you will give your consent for the operation to go ahead –

 

When the crowd tells Jesus – that His family is here – His words would have been scandalous to their ears –

 

The family bond was tight and long lasting – part of the God given fabric of Jewish thinking and living –

 

By breaking the link to family – Jesus was undermining a major pillar in the way first century Jews – feel and think about the world and themselves –

 

By speaking as He did – Jesus was challenging one of the symbols that lay at the heart of the Jewish sense of identity –

 

God is doing the unthinkable – He is starting a new family – a new Holy people – and He is doing it without regard for ordinary family bonds

 

There will be ‘those inside’ and ‘those outside’ – allegiance to Jesus produces a division – often unexpected and sometimes – unwelcome

 

But the call for Christians – is to stick with Jesus – whatever the cost –

 

Point 3        Summary

 

Our journey to faith – can be long and sometimes narrow – we face opposition from all quarters – but our readings tell us – that we must persevere –

And not hide form God’s call

 

In Genesis we are reminded – that making excuses for our behavior before God – doesn’t help – or let us off the hook – we are answerable to Him – for our actions and for the choices we make –

 

Jesus chose a path that the religious authorities an His family didn’t want Him to take – we too will be asked to follow a different path – to what the world expects

 

Paul too in his letter to the Corinthians tells us that – although following Jesus will bring its trials and difficulties – knowing that Jesus never gave up –

And that God is there to renew and refresh – and to illuminate the way ahead – ensures that we can maintain a joyful and eternal perspective –

 

We are to focus on Jesus – who has been sent to restore God’s damaged creation – who God has raised from the dead – and who will raise us up also –

 

Ending

 

Through faith in Jesus we are adopted into God’s new family – and have a new story to tell – with a new beginning – and a new ending – and a promise of a bright future – and a home that is eternal in heaven –

 

Prayer to finish

 

Through Jesus Chris our Lord –                 AMEN