Summary: Second in the series, focussing on admitting our complete need to give Jesus first place in our lives!

Be-Attitudes #2 - “Who’s on First?”

Matthew 5:3; Luke 18:9-14

By James Galbraith

First Baptist Church, Port Alberni.

January 14, 2007


The comedy routine “who’s on First” is a 20th century classic. In it, Bud Abbot and Lou Costello are get into a lively discussion about the baseball team they are about to watch.

The routine starts like this:

LOU: I love baseball. When we get to St. Louis, will you tell me the guys’ names on the team so when I go to see them in that St. Louis ball park I’ll be able to know those fellows?

BUD: All right. But you know, strange as it may seems, they give ball players nowadays very peculiar names, nick names, like "Dizzy Dean". Now on the St. Louis team we have Who’s on first, What’s on second, and I Don’t Know on third. LOU: That’s what I want to find out. I want you to tell me the names of the fellows on the St. Louis team.

BUD: I’m telling you. Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know is on third

LOU: You know the fellows’ names?

BUD: Yes.

LOU: Well, then who’s playin’ first.

BUD: Yes.

LOU: I mean the fellow’s name on first base.

BUD: Who.

LOU: The fellow playin’ first base for St. Louis.

BUD: Who.

LOU: The guy on first base.

BUD: Who is on first.

LOU: Well, what are you askin’ me for?

BUD: I’m not asking you -- I’m telling you. WHO IS ON FIRST.

LOU: I’m asking you -- who’s on first?

BUD: That’s the man’s name!

LOU: That’s who’s name?

BUD: Yes.

And on it goes. Lou never does figure out “who’s on first”,

and that is why I have used this sketch to introduce my message today.

We all struggle with figuring out “who’s on first”. I don’t mean who’s playing first base for St. Louis, but rather who should be in first place in our lives.

Jesus spoke some very clear and profound words to this. One day on a remote hill he spoke these words

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

And those who heard him speak were never the same again.

What he meant by this, and what is means to us,

is what we will direct our attention to this morning.


Jesus has brought his disciples into a remote region of Judah,

far away from the city of Jerusalem.

The region is close to the Sea of Galilee, in fact the mountain side on which this message is given over looks the Sea itself.

There is a bit of a message in the geography here;

Jesus has brought himself to the people in an area about as opposite to the city of Jerusalem as one could find in Judah.

You could almost say that he has chosen to distance himself from what the city had come to represent. People would expect a Messiah to come from the spiritual centre of their universe; he has chosen to reveal himself in the “boondocks” of the country.

He has not been a public figure for long, but he has already begun to attract a crowd. The verses immediately before these tell us that,

23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.

There is indeed a large crowd of curious bystanders around,

and we can be sure that the words Christ is about to speak

are meant to be heard by them as well as the disciples.

He has sat down with his disciples and started to teach them.

His words are going to center on the importance of living differently than the society in which they have lived in all their lives.

He is taking the spoken and unspoken rules that which they lived by

and turning them upside down. Now what do I mean by that?

He is not striking down the law of God; in fact he is just minutes away from making this warning to them,

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Jesus was not a bystander while God revealed in law to Moses centuries earlier; he was, is and always will be his Father’s Son, sent to do his work.

No, what Jesus is taking on are the insidious and counterproductive deceits that had crept into the faith and society of God’s people in Jerusalem.

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