Pentecost 2 B 2021
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Aah… Home. Home sweet home. Memories of our childhood home bring smiles to our faces. Dorothy clicked her red ruby slippers three times as she said: “There’s no place like home.” Simon and Garfunkel sang “Home, where my thought’s escaping, home, where my music’s playing, home, where my love lies waiting silently for me.”
Home, for most of us, is where the heart is. And that is why it is surprising to hear that for Jesus, going home was not the experience Dorothy or Simon and Garfunkel described because in today’s Gospel, it seems that for Jesus, home is anything but home sweet home.
And this can be disturbing. Because we all know that Jesus and His disciples had gone to Christ’s hometown to get a break from all the intensity and frenzy of Christ’s early days of ministry.
Think about it… Jesus and His disciples were exhausted. Here we are just halfway into the third chapter of Mark’s Gospel and already Mark has given us a long list of Christ’s activity.
For example: So far in Mark’s Gospel Jesus has been tempted in the wilderness. And Jesus has chosen His 12 disciples. And Jesus healed a man possessed by a demon. And Jesus healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. He preached in Galilee. He healed a leper. And He taught a huge crowd by the seashore.
And so, it is no wonder that Jesus and His disciples were exhausted, and that Jesus needed to go home.
But things did not work out well for Him. We are told that the house was so crowded that Jesus and the disciples could not eat. And that His family thought He was crazy and had gone off the deep end.
And the Scribes? Well, the Scribes who had come from Jerusalem were upset with Him because He was not playing by the rules.
The scribes thought this because Jesus was healing people (who in their eyes were untouchable) and liberating them from their demons.
In frustration, they responded by stating that Jesus was one with the demons, and that He was possessed by Beelzebul. And that far from being a man of God, He was practically the devil incarnate!
Aah, home sweet home. Maybe Jesus should have heeded the words “You can never go home again.”
But in God’s Redeeming Activity, it was a journey that Jesus had to make to help humanity understand that God’s ways are not our ways.
In response to the accusations that He was the devil, Jesus asked “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come.”
These are words we need to hear today. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” That is what Jesus told His critics and His followers 2,000 years ago. And if we look at our world and our society today, we know that Christ’s Words are true.
As a nation, we are divided over many issues. And we have become a people so focused on our differences that we at times forget what unites us. And we have forgotten what Jesus meant when He said that no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man so that He can then go and plunder the house.
Jesus said this, because far from being an agent of Beelzebul, Jesus is the One who will one day break into Satan’s house of lies, and bind Satan up, and plunder Satan’s house. In God’s Redeeming Activity Jesus is the One who will stand up to and fight against the demonic powers that exist in our world that we acknowledge when we are Confirmed.
In the Affirmation of Baptism liturgy, the presiding minister addresses the confirmands with these words. “I ask you to profess your faith in Christ Jesus, reject sin, and confess the faith of the church.”
The presiding minister then say’s “Do you renounce the devil and all the forces that defy God?” And the confirmands respond: “I renounce them.”
The presiding minister then asks: “Do you renounce the powers of this world that rebel against God?” And the confirmands respond: “I renounce them.”
And then the presiding minister asks: “Do you renounce the ways of sin that draw you from God?” And the confirmands respond: “I renounce them.”
The confirmands respond “I renounce them” to state that they (I) will stand with the strong man Jesus who is not divided against God, but rather, is fighting for us and for our salvation as the beloved Son of God.
So instead of focusing on what divides us, we should focus on what united us. So, what is it that unites us? Well, the one thing that God has given to us that has the power to unite us as one people is Baptism.
Think about it. Through Baptism we become one family living together in one home that is built all over the world. A home not made with human hands, but made with God’s grace, mercy, and love. A home that accepts us no matter what has happened in the past. A home where we are assured of the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting if we believe and trust in the promises and gifts that Jesus bestows upon us through our Baptism into Christ.
And that is why Jesus could state: “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” because for Jesus, home is all about where the heart is, and Jesus has come to us to show us God’s heart.
I would like to close with words from the hymn we sang a few weeks ago at the Confirmation service. Even though we are not singing it today, I think it captures what it means to be a part of the global Christian family, whose house is built on God’s love for us.
The words are…
Let us build a house where love can dwell
and all can safely live,
a place where saints and children tell
how hearts learn to forgive.
Built of hopes and dreams and visions
Rock of faith and vault of grace;
Here the love of Christ shall end divisions:
All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd, in the waters of Baptism you give us birth, and at your table you nourish us with heavenly food. In your goodness and mercy, lead us along safe paths, beyond the terrors of evil and death, to the house of the Lord where we may rest securely in you forever. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.