Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Leading a Rebellion: Joseph

Leading a Rebellion: Joseph

Activity: Pair off one male and one female. Have each group act out the different scenes. Each scene is Mary telling Joseph she is pregnant, and Joseph’s reaction.
-2 mimes                                              -A Western Movie                              -2 Body builders
-2 Spanish speakers                             -Overly dramatic soap opera               -2 Mafia members
-2 French speakers                              -A deaf couple                                                -2 people who only text
-2 Arabic speakers in the Taliban        -2 opera singers

-A rebel is a person who resists any authority, control, or tradition.

The Story So Far:
-Marriages were arranged by parents at that time. Girls were usually married around 14 years old and guys around 25. Usually the two were completely separated and never met, but because they were from the small town of Nazareth they probably would have met a couple of times.
-The two would have been officially engaged at a ceremony in front of their families and then Mary would go and live with her parents for about a year until she moved in with her husband. After the engagement ceremony, Mary would have been called Joseph’s wife.
-During this year long process Mary was visited by an angel.
            Luke 1:26-35 “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[a] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[b] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God.”
-It should be noted that Mary was never asked if she wanted to do this , but was told what was going to happen to her. Mary’s response was, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be done according to your word.”
-So here we have a man and woman engaged to be married, separated for a year, and keeping themselves pure for each other, when Mary becomes pregnant. Imagine the awkwardness of that conversation. “Joey?” “Yes?” “Remember how we’ve never had sex?” “Yes.” “Well…”

The Rebellion:
-Because Mary was Joseph’s wife and because adultery was a serious sin punishable by death, her life was in jeopardy. Joseph could have done numerous things. He could have dragged her to the public square, shamed her and her family in front of the whole town, presented the evidence of her adultery and had her executed. It was not just Mary’s reputation that was being disgraced it was also Joseph’s. Either Joseph had sex with Mary before they were officially married, or Joseph’s betrothed wife cheated on him. Both would have been humiliating. There was a time when unmarried pregnancies was still shocking.
-Publicly shaming and executing Mary would have been the normal thing to do, but Joseph did something else. Matt 1:18-19, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ[a] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed[b] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” Joseph decided to act with mercy rather than justice.
-It is important to note that Joseph had already decided to act in mercy before he himself received a vision from God. Matt 1:20-21 describes the vision he received, “ But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

-Joseph chose to act with mercy when society said to act with justice. Have you ever done something wrong and had to face your punishment? You know you are guilty. You got caught. There is no question that you are going to get into trouble, and then you get off scot free. For me it was a speeding ticket. I got pulled over on Carol St. I didn’t know the speed limit which is not an excuse. I was going 42 in what turned out to be a 25. The officer asked me some questions. I admitted I didn’t know how fast I was going or what the speed limit was. While he went back to his car, I began calculating how big the fine was going to be, how I was going to pay for it, and how I was going to tell Rebekah. The officer gave me a warning, and let me know the fine would have been over $300. That was an object lesson in grace. I was guilty, but did not have to pay for my crimes.
-Is there someone in your life that has wronged you that you haven’t let them off the hook yet? Perhaps they are still under the punishment of your cold shoulder or silent treatment. Maybe it’s time that you let them go. You don’t have to let them hurt you again, but maybe you can say, “You hurt me, but I’ve been forgiven for a lot of things in my life so I’m going to forgive you.” That doesn’t mean you have to be friends with them, or ever talk to them again, but you will be free knowing you did what you were supposed to do.
-The Bible says that those who have been forgiven much will love much (Luke 7:47). Are you having trouble loving or forgiving other people? Perhaps it’s because you don’t feel like you have been forgiven.
            -Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.

Leading a Rebellion: John the Baptist

Leading a Rebellion: John the Baptist
-A rebel is a person who resists any authority, control, or tradition.

The Story So Far: I could very easily talk for an hour about JBAP and all of the weird things he had to do as part of his calling, but this is called “Leading a Rebellion,” not “Fear Factor: Jerusalem.” But it is a good place to start. JBAP was Jesus’ second cousin, born to a priest named Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth. Both were old and Elizabeth was barren. While Zacharias was serving in the temple the angel Gabriel appeared to him and said, “Your prayers have been heard. You will have a son.” (If he was an elderly man, way past child rearing age, how long ago was it that he stopped praying to have a child? And yet Gabriel speaks of it as if it is in the present tense. This is an important reminder to never give up praying, and even though God hasn’t answered the prayer yet, it doesn’t mean He won’t answer the prayer.) Zacharias asked Gabriel how he would know this was true. Gabriel responded by face-palming and saying, “Uh, because I stand in the presence of God every day.” And then he said that just for asking a stupid question like that he would be mute until his son was born.
            There were some other directives given to Zacharias from Gabriel concerning the boy. He was to be filled with the Holy Spirit even from the womb, and he will refrain from wine or strong drink. This is very similar to the vows surrounding Samuel and Samson, but this vow was made by God and not by their moms.
            Shortly after Elizabeth conceived, Mary became pregnant too. Mary and Elizabeth were cousins, and Mary was very excited for Elizabeth. So excited that Mary planned a trip. When Mary showed up at her door, the baby inside Elizabeth leaped for joy when it came in the presence of the baby inside of Mary. The baby inside of Mary was of course Jesus. JBAP was already recognizing and worshiping Jesus as his Lord and Savior while still in the womb.
            We don’t know anything about JBAP’s childhood or upbringing. The next time we see him is when he came out of the wilderness and started baptizing people. JBAP was the one Isaiah prophesied about when he said that there will be a messenger from the wilderness who cries out, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’” Mark chapter one tells us that John was clothed in camel’s hair with a leather belt, and that he ate locusts and wild honey. He came from the wilderness, so one gets the impression that he made his own clothes from the things he killed or found dead, and ate whatever he could find. He was the original survivor man. Bear Grylls watches reruns of JBAP. So picture a long haired dude, who smelled funny from never bathing and eating weird things, dressed in camel’s hair and that’s the picture of the leading preacher/ evangelist of the day. He was a rebel because of his lifestyle, that’s for sure, but that’s not what we’re going to be talking about today.

The Rebellion: What we will be discussing tonight sound more like an episode of Jerry Springer than an episode of the Bible. It is very confusing because practically everyone in the story is named Herod, except for a woman named Herodias. Herod the Great had several sons, two of which were Herod Antipas and Herod Philip I, not to be confused with Herod Philip II, another of his sons. Herod Philip was married to a woman named Herodias, and Herod Antipas was married to a woman named Aretas, a King’s daughter. (If you ever marry a King’s daughter—don’t tick her off). Herod visited Herod and fell in love with Herod’s wife, Herodias. Herod and Herodias made a deal that the next time he came to Rome, she would leave Herod and marry Herod, under the condition that Herod divorce his wife Aretas. Herod agreed to betray Herod. Aretas found out about the shenanigans before Herod could divorce her and asked to go visit her dad. Herod not suspecting that she knew anything let her go. She left home and told her daddy. That started a war which decimated Herod’s army. Herod eventually married Herod’s wife, Herodias, while everyone involved was still married to their first spouses. Herod and Herodias eventually had a daughter named Salome who danced, presumably in a seductive manner, for Herod and his friends. The whole situation was extremely immoral, extremely illegal, and extremely icky. JBAP felt called to tell him what he, and God, felt about the whole situation.
            Herod was the ruler in charge of the Palestinian area established by the emperor of Rome. He was a part of the ruling family that had ruled that region for generations. They even became Jews to be more politically accepted in the region. JBAP felt that it was not good to have a political leader and a public figure carrying on in the immoral way that he was. It is one thing for a person nobody knows to act immorally; it’s quite a different story for a public figure to do it. Why was it such a big deal for Bill Clinton to sexually harass an intern? It’s a big deal because he was the leader of the free world, in a position that is supposed to be highly respected and looked up to. Ronald Reagan honored the position of President so much that he never entered the Oval office without a jacket and tie on. Bill Clinton used the power of the presidency to assault his interns in that same office.  JBAP had the nerve and the guts to stand up to a guy as crazy and as powerful as Herod and was arrested for it. Even today, it is a dangerous thing to call out, either publicly or privately, a public figure on their moral choices. You may not get arrested, but it may cost you quite a bit. Money, job, friendships, family. Ever wonder why people like Charlie Sheen don’t have anyone around them saying, “Hey! You’re an idiot. Get a grip on your life.”? Because people like Charlie Sheen won’t hang out with people who don’t agree with his lifestyle. And if Charlie Sheen is supporting your lifestyle, you better not disagree with him or he’ll cut you off. Politicians fire people who criticize their lifestyle, or even worse they will release a scandalous story about you, true or made up, to the media. CEO’s may fire people who catch them in an affair, or suggest that they should be conducting themselves in a more moral manner. Pastor’s may embarrass you and kick you out of the church if you call them out for being immoral. While we were in Haiti we heard of a Pastor who kicked a man out of his church who was having an affair with the same woman he was having an affair with.

Application: What would you do if you knew a leader or public figure was doing something wrong? What if you were at Big Lots doing some shopping, and saw me stumble out of Ollie’s drunk? Would you say anything? What would you do if we were at the store buying necessities for camp and the cashier gave me too much money back and I didn’t correct him? Would you say anything? What if you saw Pastor Brian holding hands with another woman? Would you say anything? Leaders are held to a higher and tougher standard than everyone else because they have the ability to influence so many other people. “To whom much is given, much is required.”
The Results: Let’s see how JBAP’s bravery paid off for him. Mark 6:17-28, “ For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias's daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother.
            Herod feared his wife and his stupid vows more than he feared God. JBAP feared not doing what God asked him to do more than he feared death. How about you? Is God asking you to do something? Perhaps it is standing up to something you know is wrong. Maybe you’re the one that’s doing something wrong and God is asking you to stop doing it. Maybe you’ve never had a real relationship with God, but you have that small voice in the back of your head saying, “Hey, there’s something to what this crazy guy is saying, and I want you to listen to him. I want to be a part of your life.” If you’ve never had a relationship with God, but want one, please come see me after we’re done today.