Summary: In many of us there is a little of James and John. (This sermon generated a lot of comment).
OPEN: I love basketball. I watch it whenever I can. I’ll watch it on TV, and once in a while I’ll even get a chance to watch a live game. Going to basketball game is different than watching the game on TV. When you go to a game, you’re going because you like one of the teams. You’re there to root for the players and encourage them on to victory. You’re there to experience their struggles and rejoice in their successes.
When you pay for your ticket, you go up into the bleachers, and if you’re smart you don’t go and sit in the wrong section - you sit with your team’s fans.
Each team has its own group of fans. Everybody on that basketball floor has people who are there to root for them. Everybody has someone there to shout out words of encouragement and support for everybody... everybody, that is, except one group of people. One group of people on the floor has no one rooting for them in the bleachers. Who might that be? The Referees.
Nobody ever says to them: "Great call, ref!"
Nobody ever approaches them after the game for their autograph.
Nobody ever takes them aside and invites them out for coke after game.
And even if the refs do an even handed job and call the game the way we would have, the best we do is tolerate them.
But more often we abuse them because they are obviously idiots (otherwise they’d have called it the way WE saw it).
My 1st church was in a small town of about 600 people. They had a High school there (combined with an elementary and middle school under the same roof). Most of the kids from my youth group went to that school, so I’d often go to the school’s basketball games as a way to meet people and show community support.
One night, the refs weren’t calling them the way I saw them. The crowd was raucous and you could hear things like this:
„« What, are you blind?
„« How could you miss that foul?
„« Hey, ref - who paid you to throw this game?
„« You got relatives playing for that other team?
(pause) ... that was me.
I’d done it many times before at other games, but that night, I had something of a religious experience. It was almost as if I stepped back a couple of rows and heard myself shouting out those insults. THEN, a voice seemed to echo in my ear:
"Jeff, what do you think you’re doing? Do you realize who you are? Don’t you realize that you’re a preacher in a very small town and just about everybody knows you? And here you are, harassing these men - can’t possibly be paid enough to endure the abuse you are heaping on them."
"Don’t you realize who you are???"
I. Sometimes, we forget who we are. OR sometimes we’ve not given it much thought. In fact, we might even just assume:
"That’s just the way I am!"
"This is how I behave at Basketball games, or how I act when I’m under pressure, or when things aren’t going my way."
James and John had that excuse. In Mark 3:17 we’re told that Jesus game them the names "Sons of Thunder." Their nicknames declared: these are men referees and umpires dread. These are men who were quick to judge and harsh in their words. These were men who called them the way the saw them and they called them loudly.
II. Generally, we don’t think of James and John as firebrands with sharp tongues.
After all they are disciples of Jesus. And while the Bible doesn’t tell us much more about James, John is often known as "the disciple of love." John wrote things like:
"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him." (1 John 3:14-15)
And again he wrote: "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." (1John 4:7-8)
And yet again: "We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother." (1Jo 4:19-21)
Those are decent words & important attitudes. Those are Godly attitudes. BUT those weren’t the attitudes John was displaying that day in Samaria