There’s a new book out by the author Joan Biskupic, a biography of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The book is called American Original, and in it Biskupic takes a relatively fair and open-minded look at one of, if not the most, polarizing public figures of our day. His stances on everything from executive power to abortion to the legalities of torture may either encourage of infuriate you, but Scalia is the same man who said that “The main business of a lawyer is to take the romance, the mystery, the irony, the ambiguity out of everything he touches.” Scalia also said that “[C]ampaign promises are—by long democratic tradition—the least binding form of human commitment….” About the too often drawn out and boring arguments made before the Supreme Court, Scalia said “”Why does the argument have to be dull…?” Say what you will about him, Scalia say’s the darnedest things, and he isn’t dull.
Say what you will about Jesus, but He says the darnedest things, and He is far from dull in today’s Gospel. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met anyone who talks about desolating sacrilege, running for the hills; “Woe to those who are pregnant?” Nobody’s talked like that since Lincoln, God bless him. We so often picture Jesus as this nice young man who healed people, who liked wine at parties and wasn’t particularly interested in women or fast chariots or what have you circa AD30. But I have a friend who likes to say that this Jesus, that the people who followed Him most closely were fisherman – he says “You ever seen Deadliest Catch? Those are the guys who hung out with Jesus.” My friend likes to tell people that the couple who got married at the wedding at Cana, they had plenty of wine until Jesus and His twelve rowdy friends showed up, and that’s why Mary forced Jesus to make water into wine. It was this Jesus that told us what was to come, who gave us this warning.
Last week Jesus praised the widow who gave all she had to the Temple. He and his disciples wandered around the grounds of that Temple, and they asked Jesus for a sign of what was to come, a signal they should look for so they knew what to expect next. What we heard just now was the middle portion of Jesus’ answer. First He told them that the should take heed lest any man deceive them. He told them that many will come in His name, they will say “I am Christ” and many will believe them. Jesus told them not to be troubled when they hear of wars and rumors of wars, for such things must needs be; but the end is not quite yet. He told them that nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in diverse places, and there shall be famines and troubles: that these are just the beginnings of the sorrows. Jesus warned them, He said that the ungodly will deliver them up to councils; and in the synagogues they will be beaten: and they will be brought before rulers and kings for because they know Jesus, just because they had faith in Him. But then Jesus said the darnedest thing: “And the gospel must first be published among all nations.”
And the gospel must first be published among all nations. First you, me, we, we must proclaim the gospel, the good news of God in His action, His giving us His Son Jesus, to everyone, to everybody. Regardless of the consequences. Earthquakes, famines, and troubles are just the beginning of the sorrows we will face; nation against nation, father against son, brother against brother, this stuff is no joke, and it’s just the beginning. This past week we honored our Veterans, we honored their sacrifice, their measures of devotion given so that we may live at peace. This past week also saw Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, the killer of our finest and bravest men and women, slated for trial. On Thursday Maj. Nidal Hasan, the man who shot down thirteen more of those men and women and injured twenty-nine at Fort Hood, Thursday he was officially charged with the crime. Sometimes these things are too hard to think about, so I think instead of the men and women who put themselves in the breach that we might live; I think this week of Kimberly Munley, the cop, one among many I might add, who put herself in harms way so that the killing at Fort Hood would cease. She stood in the breach, she knew what was coming and stood anyway.
Do we ever think of Jesus this way, or do we think of Him as a bit dainty? The Jesus we get this week, He’s not the Baby in the crib, He’s the Man who stands in the breach, the Man who knew what was coming and stood anyway, and He’s the Man who expects us to do the same. He’s the man we will celebrate next week on Christ the King, the Man who takes all that we throw at Him and gives us blessings in return. He’s the Man who knows what we face because He faced all of it too. He’s the Man who is the gospel, and who gave His last full measure of devotion so that gospel might be spread to all nations. What will you do for the gospel?