It would appear African Americans cannot win for losing. Night after night on television, we see negative images of black people as thugs, pimps, gangsters, looters, as if we ain’t got good God-given sense. And now, we’re “nappy-headed hos.” What's worse, we've bought into the lies and are doing it to ourselves, promoting degrading and negative self images in videos, in hip hop music, and in the movies.
Cases in point: Don Imus’ racist and degrading remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team; Hurricane Katrina survivors being referred to as “looters” while white Americans were referred to as “finders” of bread, scantly-dressed women “dropping it like it’s hot” in soft porn videos; and fowl, vulgar, lyrics in hip hop music blazin’ all across this America, where hip hop lives. It would appear we cannot win for losing!
The gospel of Luke provides an account of a poor, suffering sister who desperately took the Bread of Life. Some might say that she “looted” Jesus with her nappy-headed self. Those people in New Orleans, they weren’t saints. They weren’t giving blood. They were looting blood - plasma, plasma TVs, plasma computers, and plasma Gucci purses. Jesus says in the bible, “I am the Bread of Life: he who comes to me shall never go hungry: and he that believes in me shall never be thirsty.” She secretly touched the hem of His garment.
In Luke, we can easily understand why she did it. She was wading chest-deep in misery 12 long years in Katrina-like circumstances, bleeding, and rescuers were nowhere in sight. So, she stopped waiting for others to save her. She waded through murky waters and found Jesus. How many of you have found Jesus in your storms? Shout back, “Finders keepers!”
In chapter 8, Jesus has just arrived in Galilee and is on his way to Jairus’ dying daughter when this sister with the issue of blood comes on the scene. Let us look at this unnamed woman who secretly pressed her way through the crowd and, as some would say, “looted” the Bread of Life. What do we know about this sister who supposedly took from the bottom shelf of the storehouse of Jesus Christ? In addition to suffering the issue of blood 12 long years, she suffered with other issues.
First, she suffered from discrimination and the gender issue. Luke 8:43 reads, “And a woman….” The women of Jesus’ day were considered second-class citizens. Her suffering was prolonged due to the Katrina-like attitudes of the First Century church and male society. She was not welcomed in the synagogues, not at First Baptist, Last Baptist, nor at Any Baptist in between. She was considered ceremonially unclean. She risked being stoned or put to death for so much as touching a priest. She wasn’t welcomed in their colleges either, not even at that historic HBCU, Simeon College of Galilee.
Poverty pressed her down. Another gospel writer, Mark says, “…she spent all she had,” and Luke says “…no one could heal her.” Doctors loved to see her coming. She went without necessities struggling to survive. And in the case of this suffering, “looting” sister, a sensitive, loving Savior took time in her Katrina-like trial to say, “Finders keepers.”
Finally, someone accused her of being a looter. She tried to take her blessing and go unnoticed. She took from Jesus in her Katrina predicament with premeditation and without permission. Matthew Chapter 9:21 said, “She said to herself….” Furthermore, in Luke 8:47, it is apparent that she wanted to hide… “Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet….”
I stopped by to tell you don’t be scared. Stop hiding! Press and touch! Don’t put your faith in horoscopes, possessions, friends, family, or finances. Don’t put your faith in Jesus! He is the author and finisher of our faith.
Jesus is close to the discriminated, the disenfranchised, the destitute and the diseased in this world. He says so in his initial sermon, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18-19).”
To be continued...
Initial sermon excerpt preached April 27, 2007 at St. Stephen Church, Louisville, Kentucky, Rev. Dr. Kevin Cosby, Senior Pastor. To God be the glory!