PENTECOST 2, B – June 7, 2015

 SCRIPTURES – Genesis 3:1-15; 2 Corinthians 4:13 – 5:1; Mark 3:20-35

 

     The crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul.” Mark 3

 

Have you ever been called a nut, or thought of as crazy? If you haven’t, get ready. For, not only our world but even many churches are more and more pulling away from things that the Bible teaches, things which used to be considered good, because they are now seen as crazy. Just consider, for example, today’s readings from the Bible.

  • Genesis 3 says that all the problems in our world, including the sins we commit, go back to two people who, millennia ago, ate some fruit. And, this all happened because a snake spoke to them and tricked them. That’s sounds crazy! You’re a fool, then, if you accept this story as factual and true.

  • Genesis 3 also indicates that a focus on self, such as Adam and Eve showed, is actually a bad thing and leads to problems. Isn’t that crazy? Shouldn’t focusing on yourself be encouraged?

  • Our Gospel reading says that actual demons can, and do, possess people, but Jesus can drive them out. That’s crazy! Weren’t those people simply mentally ill, suffering from things that weren’t understood centuries ago?

    And, if you want to hear something really crazy: you were told at the beginning of the Service that babies are conceived and born sinful and are under the power of the devil until Christ claims them as His own in Baptism. That not only sounds crazy. It sounds utterly wrong, even wicked, to call beautiful babies ugly sinners!

     

    Crazy; nuts; backward and foolish and captive to superstitions and old, disproven ways of thinking – that is how you are, or will be, thought of if you believe that what the Bible says is true. It’s ok in our society to be spiritual, and even religious. It’s ok to respect and follow Jesus as a great man: a good teacher who loved and accepted others, no matter how different they were; a spiritual guide and a life-changer. But, to believe to be true everything the Bible says about Him, and so to follow Him as the true God and the only One who can save you from your sins and bring you to heaven; well, that’s just crazy! It might even be dangerous.

     

    This is how it will be for you if you follow Jesus as He wishes to be followed. He Himself believed and followed God’s Word, and He expects His followers to do the same. So, if you do so you’re going to be thought of as nuts and perhaps opposed, possibly even by family members. This is very difficult and painful. If this happens – when this happens, for it will – remember this: you’re in good company. Jesus’ own family was worried that He was crazy, out of his mind. After all, mobs of people were following Him:

  • Worrisome people, like sick and unclean lepers who were supposed to be avoided.

  • Strange people from Tyre and Sidon and across the Jordan River, Gentiles who had strange gods and strange customs.

    And His religious opponents? They considered Him to be demon possessed. That’s no surprise, for evil spirits recognized Him and called Him by name. He often spoke to them as He cast them out of people. His opponents, then, but also His family, sought to silence Him: His family by coming to take Him home and away from the crowds; His opponents by calling Him dangerous and, finally, calling for His death.

     

    Jesus would not be silenced, however. Nor should you be silent. Embrace the crazy! Be willing to be considered nuts! This is what Jesus did, and if you wish to be His follower you must bear His name and reputation and accept His cross.

     

    Accept God’s Scriptures as true and good and holy, a certain guide to knowing Him. As we see in Genesis 3, even the smallest change of what He says leads to destruction, for it is the rejection of Him. “Did God really say?” is what the devil and the world will say to you, attempting to make God seem foolish. “Yes, He did” is to be your response. It is better to be a fool with God than wise with men, for the foolishness of God is wiser than men. God is eternal and He shares His eternal life and nature with His believers, whereas man and his wisdom is passing away.

     

    It is also the will of God that you bear scorn and suffering for Christ, for in this way He turns you from the love of this world to yearning for the life to come that Christ will bring when He returns in glory. St. Paul says in our reading from 2 Corinthians, “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

     

    Finally, not only realize this but rejoice in this: you who believe in Jesus as the true God and your Savior are received by Him as His brothers and sisters. “Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother,” He declares. And, what is the will of God? Jesus was asked this by Israel’s leaders, and He told them plainly, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him who He has sent.” (John 6:29) If, then, you are scorned and rejected by others – even your own family! – because of your faith in Christ, rejoice and be glad that your Lord has received you as His own family! He will never forsake His own. As we see with Jesus in that house that was packed full of strange and uncomfortable people, He will stand with you and speak for you. “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!” Jesus says this on this day of little Rebecca, who was born in sin and so under Satan’s influence but is now cleansed by His blood in her Baptism and filled with His eternal life; and, He says this of you who are here listening to Him. You are His precious brother; His sister; His mother! His Father is your Father, and His home is your home.

     

    Rejoice then, you crazy people, you fools of Christ! His life is yours! In the blessed name of Jesus. Amen.