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Summary: This sermon was written and delivered by By Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1967. To see more of his sermons go online to the King Institute Projects. Be blessed.

Why Jesus Called A Man A Fool

Luke 12:16-21

By Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (8/1967)

And Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. says:

To my good friend Doctor Wells, to the officers and members of Mount Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church, my Christian brothers and sisters, I can assure you that it would take me the rest of my days to live up to that eloquent, beautiful introduction just made by this charming member of your congregation. It makes me feel very humble. And such encouraging words give me renewed courage and vigor to carry on in the struggle for freedom and human dignity. I’m deeply grateful to your esteemed pastor for extending the invitation for me to be with you. And I’m grateful to him for the support that he has given me in my humble efforts. You know, I learned a long time ago that you can’t make it by yourself in this world. You need friends; you need somebody to pat you on the back; you need somebody to give you consolation in the darkest hours. And I’m so grateful to all of the friends in the city of Chicago and to the many ministers of the gospel who have given me that kind of support and encouragement.

As you know, we are involved in a difficult struggle. It was about a hundred and four years ago that Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the Negro from the bondage of physical slavery. And yet we stand here one hundred and four years later, and the Negro still isn’t free. One hundred and four years later, we still have states like Mississippi and Alabama where Negroes are lynched at whim and murdered at will. One hundred and four years later, we must face the tragic fact that the vast majority of Negroes in our country find themselves perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred and four years later, fifty percent of the Negro families of our country are forced to live in substandard housing conditions, most of whom do not have wall-to-wall carpets; many of them are forced to live with wall-to-wall rats and roaches. One hundred and four years later, we find ourselves in a situation where even though we live in a nation founded on the principle that all men are created equal, men are still arguing over whether the color of a man’s skin determines the content of his character. Now this tells us that we have a long, long way to go.

And I’m going to still need your prayer, I’m going to still need your support. Because the period that we face now is more difficult than any we’ve faced in the past. But this morning I did not come to Mount Pisgah to give a civil rights address; I have to do a lot of that; I have to make numerous civil rights speeches. But before I was a civil rights leader, I was a preacher of the gospel. This was my first calling and it still remains my greatest commitment. You know, actually all that I do in civil rights I do because I consider it a part of my ministry. I have no other ambitions in life but to achieve excellence in the Christian ministry. I don’t plan to run for any political office. I don’t plan to do anything but remain a preacher.

And what I’m doing in this struggle, along with many others, grows out of my feeling that the preacher must be concerned about the whole man. Not merely his soul, but his body. It’s all right to talk about heaven. I talk about it because I believe firmly in immortality. But you’ve got to talk about the earth. It’s all right to talk about long white robes over yonder, but I want a suit and some shoes to wear down here. It’s all right to talk about the streets flowing with milk and honey in heaven, but I want some food to eat down here. It’s even all right to talk about the new Jerusalem. But one day we must begin to talk about the new Chicago, the new Atlanta, the new New York, the new America.

And any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men (Well) and is not concerned about the slums that cripple the souls—the economic conditions that stagnate the soul (Yes) and the city governments that may damn the soul—is a dry, dead, do-nothing religion (Yes, Amen) in need of new blood. And so I come to you this morning, to talk about some of the great insights from the scripture in general, and from the New Testament in particular. I want to use as a subject from which to preach: "Why Jesus Called A Man A Fool." (Yeah) "Why Jesus Called A Man A Fool." (Yeah)

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