We are in the midst of a political season—the debates are over, the polls are open for early voting, the commercials and mailers have gone out in bulk, but instead of focusing on presidential politics, let me pull you into the much more heated, contested, and nasty sphere of lunchroom politics. It was in the lunch room where you were either offered a seat at the cool table or shunned, it was where there were fights to the crazy shenanigans. Chelsea’s brother likes to tell the story of his lunchroom antics—when a group of friends switched out the small and delicious vanilla ice cream in those little containers with wooden spoons for mash potatoes. They sat back and waited for someone to scream and scream they did.
Sometimes, lunchroom politics goes far beyond juvenile pranks. Let me take you back to 1985, Russiaville, Indiana. At Western Middle School a 13 year old becomes a symbol of a national debate which played out in a lunchroom. In the mid 1980’s very little was known about HIV or AIDS, and so a middle school lunchroom became the place where the controversy erupted. It was there that Ryan White found himself banished to a table by himself. It was in the lunchroom where he felt ostracized. Ryan suffered from hemophilia and unfortunately received HIV infected blood. Although the doctors said he posed no threat to any other one else the match had been struck. Suddenly, parents, teachers, and students panicked that HIV would spread, administrators were pressured to ban White from attending school, there were death threats and bullets fired through the front window of White’s house, all in an attempt to answer the question: Do this young man belong?
Today we are going to confront a remarkably similar situation in our sermon series called The GREAT EXCHANGE. We’ve been looking at the idea of stewardship, how God gives us our time, treasures, and talents to invest as an investment in us. Crafting within us a character like Christ, setting us apart with a Commission, and allowing us to engage in his plan to reveal our purpose through a Call, but today we find the Great Exchange today is taking our human consternation (like the fear of the students, teachers, and parents in Russiaville, IN) and replace it with God’s divine compassion. To figure out how we become stewards of relationships defined by compassion we turn to unlikely interchange that Christ experiences in the book of Mark 1:40-45, after being in solitude and prayer, Jesus is confronted by a man with leprosy.
Notice first Jesus Emotions—40 A man with leprosy[a] (a variety of skin disorders fell under this heading) came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” 41 Jesus was indignant…”At different times we get a glimpse into the humanity of Jesus, when he wept over Jerusalem as his final Passover approached. As Jesus saw the pain Lazarus’ death caused he grieved, when he saw his Father’s temple becoming a house of robbers he reacted with righteous anger but this seems like a strange case was Jesus mad at being asked to help this poor man?
Most Bibles put a footnote in saying that another translation is possible—“filled with compassion” yet indignation is still a defensible position. The question is what was Jesus indignant over? Constantly, Jesus demonstrations of emotion come over frustration at how a sin ravaged world has worked over, ostracized, marginalized, and pushed to the outer edge those that Jesus had created. Jesus’ emotion is clear—he sees in this man not a problem to fix, an inconvenience to circumvent, but a human being in need of someone to care. A man who was so isolated outside of community that he would ask Jesus if he was willing to make him clean, so programed that he thought even the Messiah wouldn’t truly care about his plight. Continue reading “Jesus Emotion”