Rev. George Miller
June 5, 2016
(This is a character-based sermon)
I hate Jesus! Oh, it feels so good to say that. I hate Jesus and I know I ain’t the only one.
I hate Jesus. Ever since he’s come to town he’s been messing up the local economy and getting in the way of all my jobs.
I’m Antony; I’m what you’d call an entrepreneur. I got my hands in a lot of projects and make my money in a variety of ways.
I know who in the Roman government I should be tight with, and I know which Temple Priests can be purchased with Prada shoes.
Right now I’m into construction, loans, and selling sheep to be sacrificed for sin and guilt offerings.
Buildings, money and religion: can you think of three greater guaranteed scams?
Everything was good until this Jesus fellow showed up. Now talk about a scam artist-
he’s got folk flocking to him like he’s a rock star, listening to his stories, believing he can heal them, meanwhile he’s getting all these free meals and fancy places to stay.
First, it began when Jesus healed my competition’s servant.
See, I have this construction company, and we have this thing in which we under bid for projects, we use cheap labor, shoddy material, and get in and out before anyone figures out we’ve ripped them off.
My competition is this Centurion guy who also runs a construction business on the side. He’s got this slave working for him who’s really good at his job.
His slave builds better and quicker than anyone I’ve ever seen. Because of that, they got the contract to build the newest synagogue.
I was madder than King Ahab at Elijah.
But then I got word that the Centurion’s slave was sick, really, really sick, and about to die. And I thought “Good! With him out of the way I can win the next bid.”
But then I heard that the Centurion called upon Jesus to heal his slave. He acted all humble and spiritual, like “Oh Lord, I know if you just say a word my slave will be OK.”
Jesus told the crowd he’s never seen a man with greater faith, and when they returned to the house, the slave was up and about, ready to build.
Needless to say my construction company didn’t get the next job.
But I wasn’t too worried. See, there was this widow in town whose only son was really sick. That made me really happy because not too long ago I had given her a high-interest loan.
See- besides orphans and aliens, widows are the most vulnerable people in society, meaning it’s easy for someone like me to prey upon them.
With her husband dead and just one son working, she didn’t have much of an income. With hardly any money she had to take a second mortgage out on her house.
Guess who she borrowed from? That’s right- me. And with laws being the way they are, I was able to charge her an insane rate of 50% interest.
No way she’d ever be able to pay that off.
So when I heard her son died, I knew it meant her main bread-winner was gone and that it wouldn’t be long before she’d default on her loan and her house would be mine.
It’s a cute house too, with a lovely vineyard in the front yard that I may turn into a vegetable garden so I can grow collards and kale, beets and avocados.
So the day of his funeral I got all excited thinking how much money I’ll make once I get my hands on her house.
But then just as they’re leaving the gates of the city to bury her son, Jesus comes up and sticks his nose in their business.
“Don’t cry,” he tells the widow. Then he touches the stretcher, tells the man to rise, and the son sits up and begins to speak.
I kid you not. Sacred me so much I almost pooped in my pants!
Then everyone gets all excited and begins to praise God for what Jesus has done.
Not me- I cursed God because that was twice now that Jesus got in the way of me making my money.
Then, there was the dinner Jesus went to at a Pharisee’s house. He’s sitting at the table and this no-good woman came with an alabaster jar of ointment.
To the shock of everyone around, she began to cry, and then anoint his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair.
No one could believe their eyes, and they challenged Jesus for allowing these actions.
What does he do? He doubles down and tells us and her that her sins are forgiven.
“What?” The Pharisees say. “Who is this man who forgives sins?”
Jesus turned to the woman and said “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
For me, what Jesus did was the last straw.
No one but the Temple Priests has the right to forgive sins on behalf of God. And sins cannot be forgiven without a sacrifice.
The Law tells us that to be forgiven of our sins we are to offer a young bull, or a male goat, or a female lamb, or two turtle doves or pigeons, or some fine flour.
You are to bring the sacrifice to the priest who checks it out, and if it meets their approval, another priest sacrifices it on the altar.
And viola! Your sins are forgiven.
It’s a great system in which the priests get a kick back of what they sacrifice. And guess who just so happens to sell some of the animals the people need?
That’s right- me! Antonio’s Animals- here’s my card.
So if you wanted your sins to be forgiven, you’d come to me for your bulls, goats, lambs, birds, and flour.
That bad girl who anointed Jesus’ feet- she was a regular customer. She’d be good for a few goats or turtledoves throughout the year.
But when Jesus used his authority to forgive her, and to tell her that her faith had saved her, I lost a sale.
By saying her sins were forgiven, he gave her no reason to come to me to buy an animal to sacrifice in the Temple.
Can you see why I hate Jesus now?
Since he came to town he cost me a construction job, a home foreclosure, and a loyal customer.
This Jesus person is bad news for people like me.
I mean, who is this guy who can heal the sick with just a word?
Who is this guy who can restore families and relationships?
Who is this guy who can forgive the dirtiest of sinners?
Who is this so called Son of God who speaks about his father’s kingdom?
A kingdom in which aliens, orphans and widows are cared for?
A kingdom in which people with physical ailments receive free healing?
A kingdom in which women are treated as equals to men and deserve to be students, and leaders and run their own businesses?
A kingdom in which debts are forgiven?
A kingdom in which bad girls and bad boys can be forgiven and told to go in peace?
A kingdom in which compassion and not greed rules the day?
No thanks- I’d rather stick to the world I know, of shady deals, high interest loans, and preying off of people’s foolish religious beliefs.
I’d rather stick to a world in which my government officials are corrupt and my religious leaders can be bought off.
Kingdom of God? That’s for fools! And this Jesus fellow- the sooner we’re rid of him, the better.