Year B Proper 14 John 6 2012
Jesus: Liar, Lunatic, Legend, or Lord?
John 6:35, 41-51
Before we read the text for this morning I am going to ask you to do something a little different. I want you to listen to the reading not with a heart of faith but with a skeptical mind. If it helps, imagine that you do not know that Jesus is anything else but a teacher. You are a first century person who has just been introduced to him. [Read John 6:35, 41-51]
Pretty incredible isn't it? For someone to make such claims. What if, later today, you were introduced to someone and that someone said, "Hi, I am the bread that has came down from heaven." You would look at your friend who just introduced you to this person and you would say, "I'm sorry, what did he just say?" Anyone who seriously made such claims would easily be labeled a kook, a nut, certifiable.
C.S. Lewis, in his book "Mere Christianity," makes the following statement about Jesus: "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg--or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us."
Throughout the book Lewis argues for the truthfulness and importance of the Christian faith. But before we go any further, let me recommend this: If you have a friend who has doubts about the Christian faith, go get this book "Mere Christianity" and give it to them. If they are honest in their doubts it will overcome many of them. In the book you will find the following idea put forth: Jesus was either a liar, lunatic, legend, or Lord.
This scene from Jesus' life (John 6:41-52) demonstrates these four possibilities. Jesus is either...
- A Liar
- A Lunatic
- A Legend
- Or a Lord
Tinctures of Truth in the Tincture of Time
Our lectionary reading from Ephesians this morning offers a healing ointment to a church that is sick and in need of salve, a word from which we drive our word "salvation."
This morning I have before me some salves I grew up with: a bottle of iodine, a bottle of merthiolate, a bottle of mercurochrome. [It will not be easy to find these except by asking some of your older members if they still have any samples in their medicine chests.]
Here are their replacements today: bacitracin, neosporin. [These will be easy to find.]
We don't have either mercurochrome or merthiolate because both these compounds contained merury, one mercury and bromine (Mercurochrome) and the other mercury and sodium (merthiolate). The FDA has decided that things with mercury in them were not good for you, which sounds about right to me. But why you can have mercury in your mouth through tooth fillings, or mercury in your home through fluorescent bulbs, and not in anti-bacterial medicines and antiseptics is a mystery to me.
But let's see this morning how many of you remember being tortured by your parents with the germ-killing sting of a tincture of iodine or a tincture of merthiolate. Raise your hand. . . . My parents never used mercurochrome because it didn't sting, and thus it couldn't possibly be working to wipe out bacteria.
Those of you who put your hands up know that these killer fluids came in tiny brown bottles with a long glass dropper inside. [If you don't have the real thing, you will need to make sure they can picture it.] The glass dropper would hover over whatever wound was being treated, a scraped knee, a sliced toe, a de-slivered finger-tip, while the howling child (that's you) waited for that first bright red drop of medicine to hit home...
Outside of the chemistry lab, though, a "tincture" has come to be recognized as a generic term for a kind of healing, restorative tonic. Originally many of the healing "tinctures" were herbal infusions — gentle healers, less concentrated, and less medicinally recognized, as the twentieth century wore on.
The key to an herbal "tincture" was not unlike making a good cup of tea. It required "steeping time" — letting the restorative agents just "sit and soak" until the greatest part of their essence had seeped out into the surrounding liquid. Eventually, savvy parents began subtracting the herbs and opting for a simpler, purer form of healing — a "tincture of time." In layman's terms, "let time heal the wound."
In today's Ephesians text the Body of Christ is being gently dosed (not hosed) with some healing tinctures — infusions of character, attitude, practice, and patience that will work together and synergize to create a stronger, healthier "body." All the qualities, the "virtues" today's text advocates, require the "tincture of time"...