Controversial – just one of the many adjectives one could use to describe Jesus. He would raise eyebrows and incite tempers.
Unexpected – another apt adjective that describes Jesus and his actions. He would suddenly do something out of left field.
Unconventional – Jesus was often unorthodox and eccentric
And as a result he was…one more adjective…divisive – his actions drove a wedge between him and the religious establishment of his day.
Much of this was due to one thing…who he hung out with. Who he engaged. The company he kept. The people he loved.
Driven by a great cause, Jesus defied convention by engaging seemingly disreputable and broken people.
Today we examine carefully this notorious lifestyle of Jesus and ask ourselves what it means to us.
Context: An encounter between Jesus and two of followers of his cousin, John the Baptist (sent to inquire about Jesus identity). Jesus tells them – go back and tell my cousin it’s all good…I’m the one, sent by God.
This prompts a mini sermon by Jesus expressing his frustration with how John and he were both rejected by the religious establishment.
31 "To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like?
· referring to religious leaders
32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: "'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.'
· they are like little kids who demand their way. Hey, you need to play our games! No fair! Play by our rules!
33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.' 34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners."'
· John and I don’t play by your rules…we are unconventional, we do unexpected things.
· you label us – you say John is demonized …and you call me a lush
· came eating and drinking = Hebraic phrase = high living and knocking back a few – you call me glutton and a drunkard
· This was a serious accusation: (What the law said to do with children who were drunkards)
He is decadent and a drunkard.Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. Deuteronomy 21:20-21
· Why? Guilt by association - 34 a friend of tax collectors and "sinners”
- you label people as deviants and throw me in with them because I spend time with them.
This became one of the constant accusations thrown at Jesus and for good reason. He was always hanging out and touching unacceptable people:
27 Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. "Follow me," Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. 29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" 31 Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Luke 5:27-32
then there’s this story:
1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.'" Luke 19:1-7
Let’s look at another unexpected connection by Jesus:
1 When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 There a centurion's servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, "This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue." 6 So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." 9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well. Luke 7:1-10
· strange story...Jesus expressing great admiration for the faith of a Gentile! This nearly got him killed just weeks before this.
· in a strange twist...(Vs. 3) Elders begged him to help...no doubt because this Centurion was one of their benefactors (“built our synagogue”)
· they were grateful for Jesus giving him the time of day but make no mistake Jesus they were furious when he gave the guy props for his great faith!
· Jesus, once again, divisive and unconventional
Then there’s the next story:
11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out--the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry." 14 Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. 16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people." 17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country. Luke 7:11-17
· Here Jesus...spontaneously emotional...did the absolutely unthinkable – (Vs 14) touched the coffin
· Now, the kid was healed and people were blown away but it happened as Jesus, once again defied convention!
Driven by a great cause, Jesus defied convention by engaging seemingly disreputable and broken people.
Why? Well, note that first phrase…”driven by a great cause”
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Luke 4:18-19
Which is why he said what he said back in chapter 7: 35: But wisdom is proved right by all her children."
· you call me a glutton and drunkard...you say I hang out with sinners...but look at the offspring of my unconventional wisdom:
o Matthew is a disciple
o Zaccheus is a repentant child of God
o That Centurion’s servant is healed
o a poor widow’s son is now alive
Call me what you want but the Kingdom of God is advancing and the gates of hell are being knocked down.
Back in April of 2012 the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A was the focus of controversy following a series of public comments made by CEO Dan Cathy about same-sex marriage and donations they had made to certain organizations that opposed LGBT rights. There were protests, boycotts, counter-protestors and political calls for action from all sides.
That’s what we all saw played out in the media…what we did not hear was a truly remarkable story playing out behind the scenes.
Story told by Shane Windmeyer - the founder and executive director of Campus Pride, a leading national organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) students. It was his organization that launched the national campaign against Chick-fil-a.
I had spent quite some time being angry at and deeply distrustful of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A. On Aug. 10, 2012, in the heat of the controversy, I got a surprise call from Dan Cathy. He had gotten my cell phone number from a mutual business contact serving campus groups. I took the call with great caution. He was going to tear me apart, right? Give me a piece of his mind? Turn his lawyers on me?
The first call lasted over an hour, and the private conversation led to more calls the next week and the week after. Dan Cathy knew how to text, and he would reach out to me as new questions came to his mind. This was not going to be a typical turn of events.
His questions and a series of deeper conversations ultimately led to a number of in-person meetings with Dan and representatives from Chick-fil-A. He had never before had such dialogue with any member of the LGBT community. It was awkward at times but always genuine and kind.
Never once did Dan or anyone from Chick-fil-A ask for Campus Pride to stop protesting Chick-fil-A. On the contrary, Dan listened intently to our concerns
Dan sought first to understand, not to be understood. He confessed that he had been naïve to the issues at hand and the unintended impact of his company's actions.
Throughout the conversations Dan expressed a sincere interest in my life, wanting to get to know me on a personal level. He wanted to know about where I grew up, my faith, my family, even my husband, Tommy. In return, I learned about his wife and kids and gained an appreciation for his devout belief in Jesus Christ and his commitment to being "a follower of Christ" more than a "Christian." Dan expressed regret and genuine sadness when he heard of people being treated unkindly in the name of Chick-fil-a -- but he offered no apologies for his genuine beliefs about marriage.
Dan, in his heart, is driven by his desire to minister to others and had to choose to continue our relationship throughout this controversy. He had to both hold to his beliefs and welcome me into them. He had to face the issue of respecting my viewpoints and life even while not being able to reconcile them with his belief system. He defined this to me as "the blessing of growth." He expanded his world without abandoning it. I did, as well.
As Dan and I grew through mutual dialogue and respect, he invited me to be his personal guest on New Year's Eve at the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
This was an event that Campus Pride and others had planned to protest. Had I been played? Seduced into his billionaire's life? No. It was Dan who took a great risk in inviting me: He stood to face the ire of his base (and a potential boycott) by being seen or photographed with an LGBT activist. He could have been portrayed as "caving to the gay agenda" by welcoming me.
Instead, he stood next to me most of the night, putting respect ahead of fear. There we were on the sidelines, Dan, his wife, his family and friends and I, all enjoying the game. And that is why building a relationship with someone I thought I would never understand mattered.
Dan Cathy is driven by a great cause...the Kingdom Agenda of engaging people with the life changing message of Jesus. What will become of Shane Windmeyer and his relationship with Jesus? Who knows...but I gotta think that Dan Cathy will keep pointing him to Jesus.
Unexpected love accomplishes more than expected hate.
Jesus modelled this...
Driven by a great cause, Jesus defied convention by engaging seemingly disreputable and broken people…
…and so should we.