Monday, January 15, 2007

Why Jesus Called A Man A Fool

By: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

An excerpt from the book, A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

Luke 12:16-20

I want to share with you a dramatic little story from the gospel as recorded by Saint Luke. It is a story of a man who by all standards (Yes, Speak doc, speak) of measurement would be considered a highly successful man. (Yes) And yet Jesus called him a fool. (Yes) If you will read that parable, you will discover that the central character in the drama is a certain rich man. (Yes) This man was so rich that his farm yielded tremendous crops. (Yes) In fact, the crops were so great that he didn't know what to do. It occurred to him that he had only one alternative and that was to build some new and bigger barns so he could store all of his crops. (Yes) And then as he thought about this, he said, "Then I'm going to do something after I build my new and bigger barns." He said, "I'm going to store my goods and my fruit there, and then I'm going to say to my soul, 'Soul, thou hast much goods, laid up for many years. Take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.'" (Yes) That brother thought that was the end of life. (All right)

But the parable doesn't end with that man making his statement. (My Lord) It ends by saying that God said to him, (Yes) "Thou fool (Yes) Not next year, not next week, not tomorrow, but this night, (Yes) thy sould is required of the." (Yes)

And so it was at the height of his prosperity he died. Look at that parable. (Yes) Think about it. (Yes) Think of this man: If he lived in Chicago today, he would be considered "a big shot." (My Lord) And he would abound with all of the social prestiage and all of the community influence that could be afforded. (Yes) Most people would look up to him because he would have that something called money. (Yes) And yet a Galilean peasant had the audacity to call that man a fool....

I'd like for you to look at this parable with me and try to decipher the real reason that Jesus called his man a fool.

Number one, Jesus called this man a fool because he allowed the means by which he lived to outdistance the ends for which he lived....The house we live in-that's a part of the means by which we live. The car we drive, the clothes we wear, the money that we are able to accumulate-in short, the physical stuff that's necessary for us to exit. (My Lord) Now the problem is that we must always keep a line of demarcation between the two. (My Lord) This man was a fool because he didn't do that....

Now number two, this man was a fool because he failed to realize his dependence on others. (Yes) Now if you read that parable in the book of Luke, you will discover that this man utters about sixty words. And do you know in sixty words he said "I" and "my" more than fifteen times? (My Lord) This man was a fool because he said "I" and "my" so much until he lost the capacity to say "we" and "our." (My Lord) He failed to realize that he couldn't do anything by himself. This man talked like he could build the barns by himself, like he could till the soil by himself. And he failed to realize that wealth is always a result of commonwealth....

Finally, this man was a fool because he failed to realize his dependence on God. (Yeah) Do you know that man talked like he regulated the seasons? That man talked like he gave the rain to grapple with the fertility of the soil. (Yes) That man talked like he provided the dew. He was a fool because he ened up acting like he was the Creator, (Yes) instead of a creature....

Don't be a fool. Recognize your dependence on God. (Yes, sir) As the days become dark and the nights become dreary, realize that there is a God who rules above.

And so I'm not worried about tomorrow. I get weary every now and then. The future looks difficult and dim, but I'm not worried about it ultimately because I have faith in God. Centruries ago Jeremiah raised a question, "Is there a balm in Gilead" Is there no physician there?" He raised it because he saw the good people sufferin so often and the evil people prospering. (Yes, sir) Centuries later our slave forparents came along. (Yes, sir) And they too saw the injustices of life, and had nothing to look forward to morning after morning but the rawhide whip of the overseer, long rows of cotton in the sizzling heat. But they did an amazing thing. They looked back across the centuries and they took Jeremiah's question mark and straigntened it into an excamation point. And they could sing, "There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole. (Yes) There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul." And there is another stanza that I like so well: Sometimes (Yeah) I feel discouraged." (Yes)

And I don't mind telling you this morning that sometimes I feel discouraged. (All right) I felt discouraged in Chicago. As I moved through Mississippi and Georgia and Alabama, I feel discouraged. (Yes, sir) Living everyday under the threat of death, I feel discouraged sometimes. [applause] Yes, sometimes I feel discouraged and feel my work's in vain. But then the Holy Spirit (Yes) revives my soul again. "There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul." God bless you. [applause]

Delivered at Mount Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church, Chicago, IL on August 27, 1967.

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Remember, it is not Mohammad, Buddha, Confucius, nor New Age that saves. Jesus saves!

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