Sermon for 02.04.24 “The Jesus Club?”

Epiphany 5

Text: 1 Corinthians 9:16–27

Theme: The Jesus Club?

Other Lessons: Isaiah 40:21–31; Psalm 147:1–11; Mark 1:29–39

A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.

B. The Epistle lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.

C. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
Almighty and everlasting God, who governs all things in heaven and on
earth, mercifully hear the prayers of Your people and grant us Your peace
through all our days;
through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and
the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


A. You may be familiar with a movie called The Breakfast Club.
1. The whole movie takes place in one day, specifically, March 24, 1984,
when five students from Shermer High School have to report at 7:00
a.m.—hence Breakfast Club—on a Saturday for all-day detention.
2. A voice-over at the beginning describes the five as “a brain, an
athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.”
3. That’s what makes the movie so good—that these five students are so
4. If it weren’t for detention, this quintet would never be in the same
room, let alone speak to one another.
5. What makes the movie so profound—profound enough is that they not only
talk but also joke, argue, laugh, cry, and become great friends.
6. So, here’s a question: Why did that not happen before?

B. If you’ve been to high school (and in one sense I’m not sure we ever
truly get out), you know the answer.
1. Because when your identity, your who-you-are, is a brain or an athlete
or a basket case or a princess or a criminal, you hang out with the brains
or the athletes or the basket cases or the princesses or the criminals:
a. because if you don’t, if you fail to live up to the expectations of
those groups, those tribes, those cliques, then you risk getting the boot,
thereby having no identity at all, and eating your cafeteria Tater Tots all
by yourself!
2. So what happened with the Breakfast Club?
3. Well, they got a new identity, specifically one as detainees, a new
common identity that eclipses all those others and freed them, in this
case, to be friends.

(3) Freed just the way Paul was and we are . . . kind of.

A. Imagine a pre-Damascus-road Paul as a student at “Shermer High School”
(this serves as a metaphor for a world in which we’re enslaved to one
identity or another).

(1) What’s his group/tribe/clique?
A. A Jew?
B. A Phar¬i¬see?
C. Top of his class?
D. Zealous enforcer?
E. Maybe he is all the above!
Philippians 3:4–6 (NASB95)
4 although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else
has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more:
5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of
Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee;
6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is
in the Law, found blameless.

2 Corinthians 11:22–29 (NASB95)
22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they
descendants of Abraham? So am I.
23 Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more
labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in
danger of death.
24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was
shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.
26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from
robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in
the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among
false brethren;
27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in
hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of
concern for all the churches.
29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my
intense concern?

(2) Before Jesus met him on the way to Damascus:
A. these are what Saul was,
B. what drove his every action and interaction,
C. and without which there was no Saul.

B. Imagine yourself for a moment at “Shermer High School.”

A. What’s your group/tribe/clique?

B. Perhaps try to answer some diagnostic questions to help identify the
tribe from which you get your “who am I?”
1. Whose approval do you need or crave?
2. Whose disapproval would crush you?
3. Whom would you most like to see fail?
a. Admit it! There are some you would like to see fail!
4. If you’re exhausted right now, is it because you feel you can’t keep up?
a. And, if so, with whom are you trying to keep up?

C. It is hard to see and admit (confess!) how we get enslaved to the
expectations of:
1. the brains,
2. athletes,
3. basket cases,
4. prin¬ces¬ses,
5. criminals, and so on—but we do.

D. Often those who most deny it are the ones most enslaved.

(2) Paul says in verse 19 of our text:
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so
that I may win more.

A. What happened to Paul so that he could recognize his earlier life as
Jew/top-notch-Pharisee/enforcer to be slavery to the

(1) Jesus!
A. Jesus is what happened to him.
B. Jesus transformed Saul!

(2) Jesus showed up and gave him a new identity!
A. The risen Jesus gave him a sure identity, surer than death!
B. The gracious Jesus gave him an identity he didn’t have to
prove/earn/virtue signal again and again!
C. The forgiving Jesus gave him an identity he can’t mess up!
D. Priceless treasure that is Jesus gave him an identity that made all the
other stuff pulling his strings and that he’d thought was so important look
like a pile of rubbish (Philippians 3:8).

B. Just like you!

A. All the same is true of you!

B. Who are you?
1. A brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, a criminal.
2. No—at least not first, and definitely not only!

C. Instead, your name tag reads:
1. Baptized Child of God!
2. Eternally beloved!
3. Fully forgiven!

C. Illustration about a name tag:

A. Imagine you are wearing a name tag.
1. Name tags tell other people who we are.
2. That’s why mine says Pastor Bacic.
3. Imagine you had a name tag with lots of other stuff on it besides your
4. Like mine says:
a. I’m a man,
b. my favorite food is fried chicken from Popeyes,
c. and I love watching hockey!

B. In the reading from 1 Corinthians 9, people in the church were not
getting along with each other.
1. They’ll only be friends with people just like them.
2. So let’s pretend we’re all wearing our name tags this morning.
3. And I’m trying to figure out with whom I can be friends.
4. Let’s say I look at my name tag, and I say:
a. “I’m a man, so I can only be friends with other men.”
5. Then I’d look at all of you and say:
a. “I can be friends with you and you and you, because you’re all men.
b. But I can’t be friends with you or you or you because you’re women.”
6. I’d miss out on a whole bunch of people, wouldn’t I!

C. Then I’d look at my name tag again and say:
1. “I’m rooting for the Detroit Red Wings hockey team, so I can only be
friends with Detroit Red Wings fans.”
2. How many of you men will be rooting for Detroit when they play again?
3. Well, I’d look at your name tags and say:
a. “I can be friends with you because you’re Detroit Red Wings fans, but I
can’t be friends with the rest of you men, because your name tags say
you’re rooting for the Dallas Stars.”
b. You go sit over there with the women.
c. Again, I’d be missing out on a lot more friends, wouldn’t I!

D. Then I’d look at my name tag again and say:
1. “I can only be friends with those who are 50 years old.” How many of you
men who are Detroit Red Wings fans are 50 years old?
2. Oh, my! I wouldn’t be able to be friends with any of you.

E. Thanks be to God the apostle Paul said it doesn’t work like that!
1. He could be friends with everybody.
2. Because the name tag he had on only said:
a. “God’s Child.”
3. And he wanted everybody to be God’s child.
4. Jesus died on the cross so that everyone could be God’s child, and when
you were baptized, God did make you His child.
5. It’s like He gave you each one of you a new name tag.
6. That means not only can all of us be friends , but we can be friends
with everyone and tell everyone that God wants them as His children too.

(1) Now back to March 24, 1984, for Paul—and you.

A. While in detention at Shermer High, each of the five was supposed to be
writing a thousand-word essay answering the question: “Who do you think you

A. While they don’t get around to writing until the end:
1. actually “the brain” writes one essay on behalf of all five—the point is
that by 4:00 p.m., March 24, the detainees were not who they thought they
were at 7:00 a.m.

B. A question that goes left unanswered in the movie is this:
1. what happened after Saturday, March 24, when the brain, athlete, basket
case, princess, and criminal went back to Shermer High for classes during
the week?

C. Did the common identity forged on March 24 stand, or do they go back to
the “slavery” of the cliques?

B. By the time Paul wrote his well-over-a-thousand-word essay to the
Corinthians, he knew very well who he was and to what he was or wasn’t

A. Paul doesn’t have to live up to the Corinthians’ expectations for him
(as one of the strong ones).

B. The now-believing-in-Jesus Paul has a new identity.
1. In Jesus, Paul is free.

C. Since he is free from all the enslaving identities/expectations, he is
free to, well, do what comes naturally to the new identity!
1. Gripped and captivated by the gracious call of Jesus, secure in an
identity that cannot be taken away, he does what he cannot help but do:
a. namely, preaching the Gospel by which enslaved sinners are set free.
2. With no one left to impress, Paul is free to “become all things to all
people” (verse 22).
3. So now it’s your March 26, 1984.
4. You Are Free in Jesus.
a. What are you?
a. a Child of God—now free to do what?
b. Your calling is probably different from Paul’s, but your identity is the
c. You’re possessed by Jesus.
d. You are a member of the Body of Christ.
e. If you can stand the hokeyness, welcome to the Jesus Club!
f. So, Child of God, what are you now free to do?


A. A brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, a criminal . . .
butcher, baker, candlestick maker.
1. Whoever you are, you’ve been transformed by Jesus.
2. He’s marked you as His own.
3. There’s no one to impress.
4. Just people to love.
5. Amen.

B. Let us pray:

O Lord, You have made the crystals of ice, and You have made the stars.
And yet, You show Your love for us.
You have forgiven our sins and gathered us to Yourself.
Above all of Your other blessings, You have given us Your Word.
And that Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
In His name we come before You. Amen.

C. The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

D. In the Name of the Father…Amen.