Sermons

When Folk Close Their Eyes to the Evidence in Front of Them …..

Ancient Testimony: Luke 23:1-25

August 21, 2011

by T.J. Williams

Prayer:

Holy Spirit have your way
Holy Spirit have your way
Hide me behind an empty cross so that I may decrease and you may increase.
Holy Spirit have thy way show up and show out in new transforming unexpected ways.
Holy Spirit do thy will

I want you to turn to your neighbor to the right of you and say, “Neighbor, Oh Neighbor who I am is connected to what I was created to be.” Then I want you to turn to your neighbor to the left and say “If there is a question of who I am then you better look at the evidence of who God is.”

This part of scripture is called the stumbling block of the cross not because the cross itself is a stumbling block, but because those who follow Jesus walked with him, prayed with him, but yet they struggled with Jesus’ identity in light of the cross that he was to hang on. But ahh, you see my beloved, that Jesus for them was a healer of the blind, a resurrector of the dead. One who calmed the sea with a quiet whisper peace be still. For this community of believers, friends and family, they knew Jesus’ intimate relationship with a Father who visited from heaven on the day of his Baptism (who said my son with whom I am pleased). So Joya, for the followers of Jesus they had first-hand experience with Jesus’ divinity therefore when the Roman government arrested Jesus his followers must not just have been scared but have been confused and bewildered. I say this because this man half human and half God could save himself from a Religious imperialistic system, Oh beloved, in my Sanctified imagination, I could see Jesus standing before his liars and accusers with a kind of calm humble assuredness before Pilot he stood with his identity being questioned, sounds familiar AHH, we have seen this in our time.

You may remember Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Gov. Rick Perry who were asking for a man’s birth certificate to prove his identity, but I digress. For the followers of Jesus, they waited for the walls of the buildings to fall down around the judges and prosecutors, but all was quiet on that day. No walls fell down and no angels intervene.

It was the quietness that fell over this Congress while the accusers took an aggressive lying stand in which Jesus himself took no part in his defense. In fact the bible says in Mathew 27:11-14 that when the chief priest “Sounds a little like the religious right in our day” took him before the roman government Jesus had not a single word to his accusers because for Jesus in this very moment was a prophetic plan that Isaiah spoke of when Isaiah said “he was oppressed and he was afflicted” but yet he opened up not his mouth. But like a lamb that is led to the slaughter but like a sheep before his Shears is done, so he opened not his mouth. Because if Jesus chose to he could have called on the father and great armies of angels to fight on his behalf, but if he would have then this prophetic purpose would be fulfilled and how would the hope of a new covenant be established for the people of God or not just spiritual redemption but physical liberation. For in Jesus’ time his followers relied on Jesus’ prophetic journey for political, economic, liberation from the Roman Empire for they could not understand why Jesus would not free himself from this unjust court system.

Nelsen Mandela who is born to a poor king found himself dedicated to the work and liberation found against the national congress who upheld apartheid. National Parties created oppressive policies that were used sentenced Nelsen Mandela to 2 decades in prison all because he dared to be a radical figure in the fight to end unjust laws that were impacting the lives of Black south Africans. Mandela a man of faith knew who he was and instinctively heard the voice of God calling through his commitments for the people. President Mandela said this

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the idea of a democratic and free society in which all persons were to live together in harmony and equal opportunity. For it is an ideal that I hope to live for and achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal that I am prepared to die for” he also aid this “For I had no epiphany, no singular revolution, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignancies [sic], and a thousand un remembered moments produced in me an anger a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people. There was no particular day for which I said, hence forth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people, and instead I simply found myself doing so and could not do otherwise”.

We see parallels of today’s struggle in this sacred text that are echoed through Nelsen’s journey as we struggle for justice and equality in America. We see glimpses of Jim Crowe in a political party calling themselves the tea party Oh, and don’t believe the lies. The President Obama did not start this Department. But it started by the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act that was written in 1933. This act was written for the purpose of protecting personal accounts from big lending instructions. Many believe that repealing the act would create a conflict of interest between the government and, personal accounts and investment accounts the purpose of the bill itself was to maintain the separations between the two so that investment banking and commercial banking separate. This was repeal approved by House Republican Phil Gram of Texas in 1999 and in approved by the House of Representatives Jim Leach (Republican) and then voted on by a Republican majority 54-44 this is what has contributed to our economic crisis. Elizabeth Warren agrees with me. Folks in Detroit Michigan, Youngstown Ohio, South side of Chicago, and 125th street in Harlem, and last but certainly not least Jesus agrees with me. And don’t believe the lies of the right as America was almost brought to ruin and held hostage by a group of FOOLS, who just two weeks drafted declaration of war on the poor. These are folks who I mean folks who are not concentrating on the care of the least of these, but rather objecting over a black man in the white house. New York is feeling it as she is trying to head off the threats to stop the right to marry gay and lesbian couples.

Nationally we see a President who had every intention of doing right by the poor, the LGBT community, but have found himself between white sheets and a hard place. We are facing these things every night when we are coming home from Jobs, schools knowing who we are as individuals and who we are collectively but connected in hope in spite of that part of congress, congressional members lying about our collective identities. Relating us to political agendas and religious traditions that polarize and take away rights and attack a man that was chosen by the people. We know who we are and we know that we are not in relationship with that part of American history, of American ideology.

In this text we see a Roman government and the religious right of Jesus time bringing Jesus up before an earthly judge. We also see Jesus community struggling with Jesus’ identity within this moment a man and a liberator. They were trapped by Jesus’ humanity and blocked from seeing his divinity. We see in verse 3- Pilot says” Are you the King of the Jews?” and Jesus replied “For you have said so” Jesus was questioned by a government official it is in verse 3, TJ did not put it there it is in the Bible. As my colleague Marcus Cosby says the chief priest and the scribe found fault in the teaching that Jesus came to let the oppressed go free an let me interject in the midst today that conservative churches physical liberation of the oppressed has been edited out of the gospel message and replaced with an individual emphasis on salvation and an emphasis of an ATM machine from God. What has been ignored is that Jesus’ mission to rock foundations of centuries of political and social lives that oppressed the people and the government treated Jesus with contempt establishing a long plan to stop anyone who would seek to fight political and social oppression. But I stopped by to tell you beloved that although they mocked, scorned, and crucified Jesus, shot Martin, Lincoln, jailed

Nelsen and harassed Obama, that like Jesus’ community we will remember that blessed are those who morn that they will be comforted, blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth, blessed for those that hunger an search for righteousness for they will be field, blessed for the merciful for they will be shown mercy and blessed are the pure at heart for they will see God. For blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God. Blessed are those who were prosecuted for those are the kingdom of heaven.

In this text we see where the people struggled with Jesus’ physical situation of being mocked scorned and wrongfully crucified. The people, Jesus’ Jewish followers, saw his divine word become alive in community and established a kingdom of unity and justice for the least of these. This divine man born to engage parents has his journey completed on a cross. A cross that is left as a reminder to us that we must work together African American, Gay, Straight, Transgendered, Latino, Asian, an European American. That when we stand together and when we stand underneath the shadow of the cross we are left not with the scene o death, but with a promise of a message that we are all equal underneath the shadow of the cross. For beloved the evidence was there the whole time. That Jesus’ identity is about unity and liberation. Jesus knew who he was and so did his followers. So I invite you beloved to come underneath the cross and recommit your lives and your work to the mission of justice, equality, and unity among the people of God… Come.

Please every head Bow and every eye closed.
 

 
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