How DARE You!

Heritage Presbyterian Church

August 21, 2022
11th Sunday after Pentecost

Scripture reading – Luke 13: 10-17 

In the year of our Lord 1378, the Roman Catholic Church had been in existence for more than a thousand years.  One great schism had occurred in 1054 when the Easter Orthodox Church split away and formed its own denomination.  The Catholic Church dealt with this by excommunicating everyone involved in leaving, followed by hundreds of years of hostile ignoring each other.

But then 1378 happened.  In this year, Pope Gregory XI had been living in Avignon, France, but returned to Rome for some reason…and died there.  Now the Romans had the papacy in their hands, and they were not going to let this opportunity pass them by.  You see…the seat of the church had been in Avignon for about 90 years.  Some earlier pope moved it there because that had been his hometown.  The Pope does what he wants, so that happened.  No one dared to complain, but the Romans were a little upset at losing the seat of the mighty Roman Catholic Church.

Then this untimely death occurred.  So the church folks in Rome quickly called together the College of Cardinals who would select the next pope.  They entered the Sistine Chapel, the door was locked, and no one was to enter or leave until they had chosen the next pope.  They chose Urban VI, who seemed to be a good man.

Within six short months, the church folks in Avignon – and many other places too – began to express their distress with Urban.  He was sneaky, suspicious, and given to fits of loud, angry screaming.  They wanted THEIR pope back…so Avignon called their own College of Cardinals and elected Clement VII as the true pope.  The Roman seat said, “How DARE you!” but the church had two popes…which caused no end of problems.

Meanwhile, in the Italian city of Pisa, a local nobleman of some rank decided he didn’t like either of the two popes.  So, he gathered three cardinals, locked them in a local church, and ordered them – under threat of torture and death – to pick a new pope.  From the three of them, they chose John XXIII (not the modern one…the medieval one).  Now the world had three popes.

Each faction of the church claimed to have the REAL pope.  Each faction said, “How DARE you!” when the other two factions refused to accept their man.  Each faction was not strong enough to force the issue and no one wanted to team up with two against one (which would solve nothing).

Finally, after 39 years of this nonsense – complete with some popes dying and being officially replaced – the Pisa Pope called a council, invited the other two, and resolved to settle the matter.  All three popes were removed, either by abdication or excommunication, and a brand new pope, Martin V was elected and seated in Rome.

Can you imagine?  Can you imagine hundreds of years of tradition, rules, procedures, history, and an unbroken line going all the way back to St. Peter being set aside for the whims of a few seemingly powerful people?  Can you imagine the indignation of various people, the cries of “HOW DARE YOU!” rising from the various important locations in Europe?  It must have been an epic mess.

Thank God all the churches today get along so well and never have a cross word for one another.  There are no cries of “HOW DARE YOU!” going up in today’s churches…or in today’s world…


Or do we understand perfectly not only how those various church people felt but also how all people have always felt when their status quo is challenged by someone who claims to know better?

Hold onto that phrase “HOW DARE YOU!” in your head for a moment and let me raise a few Biblical examples when this phrase might have been used:

  • Picture when Moses first came to Pharoah and demanded that the Hebrews be released because his God had said so.  Picture Pharoah’s face, reaction, and perhaps even his words, “How DARE you even ask, Moses!”
  • Picture all those Old Testament prophets that I recently preached about going to their various kings of Israel and Judah and telling them – some of them, right to their faces – how wrong they were, how they needed to repent and do it now, how their kingdoms would be destroyed if they didn’t act…now picture those various kings saying, 

“I don’t care if you are from God or not…don’t you know who I am? How DARE you come in there and speak to me like that!”

  • How about everybody’s favorite New Testament prophet, John the Baptist?  Yes, he did his work out in the desert where he just focused on baptizing the people and preaching repentance; but remember what happened when the Pharisees came from Jerusalem to see what he was up do.  Remember what he called them?  “You brood of vipers!”  I’ll bet that got a few of those fancy-pants Pharisees to utter “How DARE you!”…even if they did it quietly and under their breath.  After all, they were very intimidated by the Baptist.

And that’s just three examples.  Search your Bibles…I’ll bet you can find a few more!

So, when Jesus dared DARED to heal that poor woman on the Sabbath, he was in just the right place and at just the right time to get his own “How DARE you!” from the local synagogue leader.  This synagogue and its leader were not in Jerusalem; he was obviously the leader of a much smaller synagogue somewhere along the trails and travels that Jesus went.  His town was large enough to have its own synagogue and large enough to get Jesus’ attention.  But if Jesus was going to do more than just “color outside the lines” in his acts, that leader was going to use it against Jesus.

Yet…that’s how Jesus rolled, isn’t it?  He acted instead of stopping and checking to see if his action was going to break the rules, upset anyone, get anyone in trouble.  Consider these acts of Jesus:

  • Talking with the woman at the well…the two of them were alone.  In fact, the way Jesus dealt with any and every woman…“How DARE you, Jesus!”
  • Telling multiple people, like the man who was paralyzed and was lowered through the roof down to Jesus or the woman who bled for 12 years, “Your faith has healed you.”  “How DARE you, Jesus!”
  • Casting out demons!  He’s in league with the devil!  “How DARE you, Jesus!”
  • Not telling his apostles to shut up and quit yelling on Palm Sunday because they were making so much noise.  “How DARE you, Jesus!”
  • Inviting himself to the home of Zacchaeus, the little bitty tax collector, who climbed a tree to see Jesus.  “How DARE you, Jesus!”

“How DARE you, Jesus!  How DARE you!”

Yes, Jesus broke rules, traditions, procedures because many of them got in the way of the people of God truly living their lives and loving their God in a way that made sense…not just according to centuries of strict obedience to the holy god of “we’ve-always-done-it-this-way.”

Jesus healed the woman because his heart was so full of love for everyone.  He called this woman a “daughter of Abraham.”  He also pointed out how she had been bound up in that awful position by the power of Satan; now she was loosed from that power.  And just to make sure those irritated, indignant leaders were put in their place, Jesus pointed out how the rules – their own rules – stated that even on the Sabbath day, it was okay to loose their animals in order for the animals to get food and water…so why not loose a daughter of Abraham?

“How DARE you, Jesus!”  How dare you use the same Laws that we know and support to bring truth to this situation…

That same Jesus would dare to enter Jerusalem and face his humiliating, sacrificial death.

That same Jesus would suffer and die on a tree…which revealed a man as being cursed according to the Book of Deuteronomy, part of the Law.

That same Jesus would inspire two other righteous men – Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea – to risk making themselves ritually unclean for 30 days by handling his corpse when they took it down from the cross and placed it in the nearby tomb.

That same Jesus would rise triumphant on Easter morning, ascend into Heaven, sit on the right hand of God the Father.

That same Jesus promised that one day he would return to judge everyone – both the living and the dead, the good and the guilty.

That Jesus who dared to confront officials – and perhaps even ourselves – because he wants nothing…nothing at all that keeps the people of God from having a wonderful relationship with God…

Not church folks who can sometimes ruin their budding faith…

Not rules that serve no purpose other than to perpetuate the status quo…

Not rituals or habits or practices that sometimes seem awfully close to those old rites that the pagans often practiced…

There is no church in the world that has it perfect…including us.  But those churches and those believers who dare to try new things or dare to ask tough questions or dare to wonder about possibilities are often daring to lead the church of Jesus Christ into new areas.

So…let’s dare, Christians.  Let’s dare to dream and try and plan and even dare to fail.

If we do, we will be in good company!