[This sermon goes very closely with the sermon I preached the next week titled “Toy King.” In this sermon I actually take my dress shirt off (with a white shirt underneath of course) and cut it into little pieces for the congregation to take home. (Leave a few big pieces of shirt left over for use later). By the next week, Jesus takes the “broken” shirt to the cross… like he takes our broken lives… and makes it whole again. You need two identical shirts to pull this off… and a little slight of hand. You take what’s left of the broken shirt… roll it into a ball, and wrap the ball with tape twice in tape in the shape of a cross +. Have the whole shirt in an identical “ball” already wrapped in tape in the shape of a cross +… make the old switcheroo and at the appropriate time… when you undo the tape… all of a sudden the broken shirt is made whole. VERY effective sermon.]
21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
“Even the Shirt Off His Back”
How many of you are on the internet? The internet is an amazing… amazing thing. It has come such a long way since Al Gore invented it… hasn’t it? We can e-mail. We can listen to music. We can watch movies. We can buy things. We can sell things. We can instant message. We can talk to each other on skype. We can webcast to each other video and sound. We can listen to sermons… watch sermons. We can Facebook. We can Twitter. We can blog. And yet… by a show of hands… how many of you barely get past e-mail. The internet has SOO much to offer, but most of us just take what we want and leave the rest.
That’s just how we are… take what we want and leave the rest. It’s like William at supper time. If there’s one thing that Alyssa and I have learned about our almost three year old son… it is that he is a carboholic. If you give him a plate of meat, vegetables, fruits, and bread… he will devour the bread and touch nothing else. Then… when he is done with the bread… you’d think… ok… now he will eat his meat, or veggies, or fruit… but NO… you all already know what he does don’t you? “More bread please daddy.”
What about your meat… you’ve hardly touched it. And your vegetables… they are yummy good. “No, they NOT yummy.” Kid’s not dumb. And we have to resort to this trade and barter mode with him. Ok… take four bites of your meat and you can have more bread. THEN, he will finally eat some of his meat and get something of a healthy meal into him. Left to his own devices… he would gorge himself on carbs and be the happiest 400 pound three year old in the world!
That’s just how we are… we take what we want… and leave the rest. It is nothing new… as we look back 2000 years… as we read the bible… as we read this scripture verse… we see this over and over again.
In today’s scripture verse, we read about soldiers who cast lots for Jesus’ clothes. It was part of the prize you received for being the executioner. Just like the hangmen of old would get to keep the prisoner’s boots… these soldiers were casting lots to see who would get the bonus of keeping Jesus’ clothes. Yet, here was a man… who could offer them so much more. Here was a man who could give them everything they needed. Here was a man who had all the answers. And yet… they only took from him what they wanted… and left the rest.
“How sad it is that they wanted so little from Jesus. There was so much more that he was wanting to give them. Instead of a few home-spun garments, Jesus was prepared to clothe them in the forgiveness of God.” Instead… they settled for so little… they settled for the shirt off his back. Which I know Jesus would have gladly given. That’s just the way Jesus was… he would gladly give you the shirt off his back.
He would gladly give YOU the shirt off his back. [Take shirt off… cut it into small pieces and hand out to congregation.]
It may be easy to look back at the soldiers and tsk tsk… but I wonder if you and I would ever feel comfortable wearing their shoes. No… that can’t be… we are happy to take what Christ offers us… right? We gladly accept all of his gifts… right?
We want to know we are saved. We want to know he is there for us. We want to know that he cares for us, that he is watching over us, that he is carrying us. We want all the warm fuzzies that come on special Christian coffee mugs… “They will rise up on wings like eagles.” “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough worries of its own.” We want to know that Jesus is our homeboy!
But this… is just half of the story… just half of the gifts Christ has to offer… just the good half of scripture. It is a distorted view of Jesus that we cling to. Whether we admit it or not… we have more in common with these soldiers than we like to admit. They settled for scraps of clothing… we settle for the buddy Christ!
We would happily gorge ourselves on all the “good things” that Christ has to offer us… and gladly leave the things that Christ offers us that are actually good FOR us! We want happiness… we want security… we want salvation… but we don’t want him to actually change our lives!
We ignore all of the “hard verses” where Jesus tells us we should give everything we have… where he tells us we should love the stranger as we love ourselves… where he tells us that nothing… absolutely nothing should get between us and God. We dig into scripture only as deep as we chose to dig, we come out with only the verses we chose to bring out. Yet… when we do this… we leave half of the reward that Jesus has to offer to us on the ground.
Like a child going straight for the bread and leaving the meat and vegetables… we take only what we want and leave what is actually good for us on the table. “How sad it is… that we want so little from Jesus. There is so much more that he wants to give us. Instead of just a few warm fuzzies, Jesus is prepared to clothe us in new life.”
He gives so much… yet we settle for so little. Do we inherit the full prize?
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.