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Jesus and the Gerasene Demoniacs Mt. 8:28 - 34

April 12, 2015 Speaker: Jim Galli Series: The Gospel of Matthew

Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Matthew 8:28–8:34

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28When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way. 29And they cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” 30Now there was a herd of many swine feeding at a distance from them. 31The demons began to entreat Him, saying, “If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” 32And He said to them, “Go!” And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters. 33The herdsmen ran away, and went to the city and reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. 34And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they implored Him to leave their region.

I read an article in the New York Times by contributor, Frank Bruni on the opinion pages, titled Bigotry, the Bible and the Lessons of Indiana.

I've been resisting things political this year, but this article goes beyond politics into the area of religion, and not just any religion, he zero's right in on my brand. Our brand, I hope.

So, cautiously, I want to use some of the things he said to both correct some errors and also launch us into our passage in Matthew today.

Are we bigots? Do you like being called a bigot? That's a strong accusation these days. In America we have no tolerance for bigots. None, in fact it's the most dangerous label you could charge me with these days.

And what's at stake here is the freedom to hold AND ACT on religious beliefs. Religious freedom. The reason the folks got in the boat and came here in the first place. That's what's hanging in the balance.

And Mr. Bruni says, it's just silly. It's totally unnecessary to have this fight. Us foolish christians are throwing gasoline on a fire to put it out.

I'll read a few paragraphs.

THE drama in Indiana last week and the larger debate over so-called religious freedom laws in other states portray homosexuality and devout Christianity as forces in fierce collision.

They’re not — at least not in several prominent denominations, which have come to a new understanding of what the Bible does and doesn’t decree, of what people can and cannot divine in regard to God’s will.

And homosexuality and Christianity don’t have to be in conflict in any church anywhere.

That many Christians regard them as incompatible is understandable, an example not so much of hatred’s pull as of tradition’s sway. Beliefs ossified over centuries aren’t easily shaken.

But in the end, the continued view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision. It’s a choice. It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing.

He concludes, falsely, this is where he is in error, that we have choices to decide yeah or nay over what God clearly says in His word.

Becasue what the book says is very clear. Both Old Testament, and New is clear on these issues.

So, do we have the luxury of deciding what the book says is in, or out?

Bottom line: Does Learning, or Time, or Science, or Knowledge, or anything else, trump this book. Does man stand in judgement over the things in this book, or does this book stand in judgement over men?

Mr. Bruni says, if you hold this view, that you do not have authority over the book but rather it has authority over you, you have chosen to be a belligerent Bigot.

There will be a collision. And the collision is with the man who said;

Mt. 5:17 - 19 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18“For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19“Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

and in John 10:35 the scripture cannot be broken

I do not possess the luxury of erasing what this book says in order to get in step with "the right side of history". This book has authority over me. What it says, trumps what even my mind might think is right based on my best learning and thinking. There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Pr. 14:12

So, you see, I hope, that I am in an impossible pickle. My thoughts, my opinions, my beliefs are locked down to what this book says. Period! And to Mr. Bruni, that makes me a hard head. A belligerent. A bigot. An enemy to be crushed. And I don't have any other possibilities except to love him while he crushes me. That's what the book says I must do.

Now, Mr. Brunni gets right at the crux of the problem in those first couple of paragraphs. Sin.

Sin is a universal problem in the human race. Since Adam and Eve, every one of us has been born broken. We all sin. The book says so. Every one of us is condemned alike.

I had some Mormon boys pull up on their bikes the other day. I was working on the black coupe, so I was a sitting duck. "Hey, I like your car" blah blah blah. The usual. Engage on a common light subject and move to heavier stuff. What we're supposed to be doing with our neighbors, and mostly, don't.

So, I said, I'll save us both some time and tell you I'm the pastor of an evangelical Bible church. Great! they said and proceeded to tell me they believe all the same stuff I do. You've heard it all before.

So, I cut right to the chase. You boys have a sin problem. Your sin isn't forgiven and you will be judged. This tangent you're on has negated the only possible solution to sin. You don't believe right about Jesus, and your sin remains. And off they went.

Sin, is universal, and it is the bottom line. No sinners will be in the kingdom of God. That debt has to be cancelled. Paid for.

What's interesting to me is that Mr. Bruni is angry with me because I believe this book says he's a sinner.

This book says everybody's a sinner. Whoopee for you Frank Bruni. My sin probably trumps your sin. Chances are excellent that I'm a bigger sinner than you Frank. I'm not particularly impressed with your brand of sin Mr. Bruni. Big deal.

But what's odd is that there isn't a coalition of thieves who would like to throw me under a steam roller. Or liars. Or pedophiles. They just go about their sin. They aren't the least concerned at what I think this book says about them.

But this particular brand of sin that Frank Bruni subscribes to has got their back up like a cat terrifying a dog. Calling me names. Hating me. And I'm stuck. I can't change what this book says. There WILL be a collision.

A bit more from the article. You can go read it for yourselves if you're interested. Just type in Bigots and Bible, NY Times

"It disregards the degree to which all writings reflect the biases and blind spots of their authors, cultures and eras."

He's talking about my bigoted opinion here which isn't an opinion at all. All of these things he mentions are true. We do have biases. Blind spots. Cultures that shape us, etc.

But the Bible states that it is God breathed. Inspired. God's truth trumps all of those things, and the message is God's message, God's truth to man, in spite of man's shortcomings. The book isn't trumped by biases and blind spots. Those things are trumped by God as he used men to write down His truth.

"It ignores the extent to which interpretation is subjective, debatable."

He gets right at the bottom line here. Is God's truth subjective? To anything? Is what God clearly said even though interpreted many times in many languages, still intact? It is! Simply stated truths. No rocket science. Is it debatable then? Absolutely not. Subjective? Absolutely not.

"And it elevates unthinking obeisance above intelligent observance, above the evidence in front of you, because to look honestly at gay, lesbian and bisexual people is to see that we’re the same magnificent riddles as everyone else: no more or less flawed, no more or less dignified."

I had to look up obeisance. Too big a word for me. It means; respect, homage, worship, adoration, reverence, veneration, honor, submission, deference

OK. Unthinking? Really? See, God forbid I speak the truth in love about him, so that he could flourish. But it's OK for him to keep calling me ignorant. Unthinking. Bigot. etc. etc. It'd be nice if we were both playing by the same rules.

"And it elevates unthinking obeisance above intelligent observance, above the evidence in front of you, because to look honestly at gay, lesbian and bisexual people is to see that we’re the same magnificent riddles as everyone else: no more or less flawed, no more or less dignified."

Actually, I love that statement. Once I got past the part about how I'm an ignorant fool thoughtlessly worshipping truth like a frog in a frying pan. I love the rest.

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual people are indeed the same magnificent riddles as everyone else! Indeed no more or less flawed, no more or less dignified.

But they are no more or less affected by Adam's fall. They are sinners, just like us. And they need the same one and only cure for that sin. Just like us.

Then Frank quotes a so-called evangelical who states; “Human understanding of what is sinful has changed over time,”

Yes. True. But what we're fighting over is who's in charge here. God, or humans. “Human understanding of what is sinful has changed over time,”  So what? Did God change His mind? Is God subject to the latest human changes? I Am the Lord. I (what?) _ _ _ _ _ _ not. Amazing. You all know that verse.

One last quote.

Creech and Mitchell Gold, a prominent furniture maker and gay philanthropist, founded an advocacy group, Faith in America, which aims to mitigate the damage done to L.G.B.T. people by what it calls “religion-based bigotry.”

Gold told me that church leaders must be made “to take homosexuality off the sin list.”

More name calling. He just called me a bigot. Again.

I'm a church leader. Like it or not. I'm being told to take homosexuality off the sin list. Can I do that? If I did, would it matter? Would God change His mind because I buckled under pressure and changed mine?

Heavens no. I'm a fart in a whirlwind. I can no more take anything that God said was sin off the sin list than get in my black '38 Ford coupe and fly to the moon.

But I can continue to steadfastly, under pressure, hold this book in it's rightful place, over every errant thought of man, and tell people the good news. We're all sinners. But there's a solution! A man died in our place to take the penalty for our sin. Sin can be forgiven.

How does this apply to our long lost story in Matthew this morning? Remember Matthew?

Let me ask you this. Why were those men in the condition they were in? Living in the tombs. So wild that other folks couldn't get near them. How did that happen?

Sin. Sin.

The problem is universal. And the solution works on the worst possible cases, as well as the sweet little librarians. The solution is Jesus.

Vs. 28 When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way.

Two men. Two men!?? This is of interest because Mark and Luke tell the same tale with increased detail and only mention one man? What's up with that? Did the gospel writers get it wrong?

Of course not! m