Sermon Illustrations on Insults

Stories

Four Thousand Deaths Over a Bucket

From the late Middle Ages until the Renaissance, northern Italy divided into factions who supported rival political powers, which further intensified their border disputes. According to legend, in 1325, a huge conflict erupted when soldiers form the town of Modena stole an oak bucket from the nearby rival town of Bologna. The thieves mockingly displayed the bucket for all to see.

Outraged, the Bolognese army marched to Modena to recover their bucket and pride. When the Modenese refused their demand, the Bolognese declared war. This event became known as the War for the Oaken Bucket. Bologna summoned a mighty army from the Guelph cities. Thirty thousand men-at-arms, two thousand knights, and Pope John XXII himself joined the chase of reclaiming the bucket.

The Modenese by contrast, only gathered five thousand men-at-arms and two thousand knights. The two armies clashed on the afternoon of November 15 at Zappolino. Despite being outnumbered nearly five to one, the Modenese managed to rout the Bolognese in just two hours of battle. The Modenese pursued the Bolognese all the way to the walls of Bologna, where they flaunted their victory before their humiliated enemy. A total of four thousand men died that day. All because of a bucket.

Brian Jennings, Dancing in No Man’s Land, NavPress, 2018.

Half A Head of Lettuce

There was a boy who worked in the produce section of the market. A woman came in and asked to buy half a head of lettuce. The boy told him they only sold whole heads of lettuce, because that’s the way God made them, but the woman replied, “you mean to tell me after all these years of shopping here I can’t buy a half a head of lettuce? 

The boy said he would go ask his manager about the matter.

The boy walked into the back room and said, “There’s some moron out there who wants to buy only a half a head of lettuce.”

As he was finishing saying this he turned around to find the woman standing right behind him, so he added, “and this nice lady wants to buy the other half.”

Later the manager called on the boy and said, “You almost got yourself in a lot of trouble earlier, but I must say I was impressed with the way you got yourself out of it. You think on your feet and we like that around here. Where are you from son?”

The boy replied, “Minnesota sir.”

“Oh really? Why did you leave Minnesota” asked the manager.

The boy replied, “They’re all ugly women and hockey players up there.”

Really replied the manager, “My wife is from Minnesota!!”

The boy replied, “No kidding! What team did she play for?”

Source Unknown

Insulting My Intelligence

Arnold “Red” Auerbach was one of the winningest coaches in NBA history. He won 9 championships as coach of the Boston Celtics and was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1965 and NBA Executive Coach of the Year in 1980. One night while on the road with the Celtics, Auerbach ran into 3 of his players, each traveling with a beautiful woman in tow.

This was against team rules, and so one of the players, trying to get out of trouble, introduced one of the women as his “cousin.” Not wanting to cause a stir, Auerbach nodded without raising a fuss. But then the player decided to double-down on his deceit saying, “We were just on our way to church.” Sharing the story on a later occasion, Auerbach commented, ““I couldn’t take that. I fined him twenty-five dollars for insulting my intelligence.”

Stuart Strachan Jr.

Open Seating

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson wanted to make a point. The new British Ambassador had just come to Washington – the representative of the aristocratic government the new Republic had defeated in the War of Independence, and the Empire Jefferson still loathed. A few days after Ambassador Merry arrived, Jefferson hosted a reception dinner for him. When it was time for dinner, everyone walked into the dining room – and all the guests were surprised to see a single, very large round table in the dining room. 

Jefferson took a seat and gave Dolly Madison the seat of honor on his right. Mrs. Merry was given a back-of-the-pack seat a good distance from the President. But Ambassador Merry wasn’t escorted to his seat at all. 

He was left with a crowd of people Jefferson had gathered for the dinner – some important Washington personages, but some ordinary citizens who were invited – and that crowd of people headed for the table in what came to be called a “Pell-Mell”- no hierarchy of seating where the important people got seats of honors – everyone headed to the table, jostling one another, and grabbed a seat wherever they could. 

The Ambassador knew an outrageous insult was in the making, and he had a choice – make a scene or try to grab the best seat he could. So he headed for the seat two down from Jefferson,  but was cut off by some crude savage who bore the title “congressman” and ended up taking just any old seat, certainly not one befitting his prestigious office as an Ambassador of the British Empire. 

Jefferson wanted to make a point – because he understood it wasn’t enough to write a Constitution that guaranteed freedom from the stifling power of an aristocracy – you had to show you paid no honor, gave no deference, to someone just because he had a title and represented a hereditary line of kings. It is said that Jefferson only used round tables in the White House because they removed the aristocratic custom of ranking the importance of guests by how closely to the head of the table they sat.

Scott Bowerman, Source Material from Tom Wolfe, “Pell-Mell,” in The Atlantic Monthly, November 2007, pp. 58-62. 

An Unexpected Friendship

Sometimes moments of forgiveness and friendship come from unexpected places. In 2018, the comedian Pete Davidson appeared on the “Weekend Update” segment of Saturday Night Live (SNL). Davidson made a crude joke about a former Navy Seal turned Congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw.

Crenshaw had lost an eye in the line of duty, which became the butt of Davidson’s vulgar joke. The combination of mocking a person’s disability (especially a disability that came from serving his country in war) alongside a clear disapproval of Crenshaw’s political beliefs led to a burst of public outrage. While Davidson was making the joke, it became clear many found it in poor taste, and the vitriol aimed at the young comedian would ultimately lead him down a spiral of depression and self-loathing.

Davidson then took his anguish public, posting on the social media platform Instagram:

“I really don’t want to be on this earth anymore. I’m doing my best to stay here for you but I actually don’t know how much longer I can last. All I’ve ever tried to do was help people. Just remember I told you so.”

When Crenshaw heard about Davidson’s condition, he didn’t do what many do when embroiled in a public tiff: tell the offender the public scorn served him right, or make some other cutting comment at Davidson’s expense.

Instead, Crenshaw decided to extend an olive branch, befriending the comedian, and even offering words of life to a person who clearly felt lost amidst being stuck in the cross-hairs of the American public. Davidson recounts that Crenshaw reached out and comforted him: “God put you here for a reason. It’s your job to find that purpose. And you should live that way.”

Humor, it has often been said, is a coping mechanism to deal with the pain that life throws at us. But in the midst of the deep, unsettling pain of being publicly shamed, what Davidson needed was not a good joke, but forgiveness, and perhaps, even a friend who could share the good news of the gospel with him. In some ways it is ironic that a man trained to kill and destroy his enemies could be so moved by compassion that he reached out to someone who publicly mocked him and his deeply held political beliefs. But that is the beauty of the gospel, it enables us to look beyond our own reputation, our own pride, to care for others.

Stuart Strachan Jr. Source Material from Dino-Ray Ramos, “Texas Congressman-Elect Dan Crenshaw Reaches Out to SNL’s Pete Davidson After Troubling Instagram Post,” Deadline, December 18, 2018.

Humor

Half A Head of Lettuce

There was a boy who worked in the produce section of the market. A woman came in and asked to buy half a head of lettuce. The boy told him they only sold whole heads of lettuce, because that’s the way God made them, but the woman replied, “you mean to tell me after all these years of shopping here I can’t buy a half a head of lettuce? 

The boy said he would go ask his manager about the matter.

The boy walked into the back room and said, “There’s some moron out there who wants to buy only a half a head of lettuce.”

As he was finishing saying this he turned around to find the woman standing right behind him, so he added, “and this nice lady wants to buy the other half.”

Later the manager called on the boy and said, “You almost got yourself in a lot of trouble earlier, but I must say I was impressed with the way you got yourself out of it. You think on your feet and we like that around here. Where are you from son?”

The boy replied, “Minnesota sir.”

“Oh really? Why did you leave Minnesota” asked the manager.

The boy replied, “They’re all ugly women and hockey players up there.”

Really replied the manager, “My wife is from Minnesota!!”

The boy replied, “No kidding! What team did she play for?”

Source Unknown

 

Insulting My Intelligence

Arnold “Red” Auerbach was one of the winningest coaches in NBA history. He won 9 championships as coach of the Boston Celtics and was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1965 and NBA Executive Coach of the Year in 1980. One night while on the road with the Celtics, Auerbach ran into 3 of his players, each traveling with a beautiful woman in tow.

This was against team rules, and so one of the players, trying to get out of trouble, introduced one of the women as his “cousin.” Not wanting to cause a stir, Auerbach nodded without raising a fuss. But then the player decided to double-down on his deceit saying, “We were just on our way to church.” Sharing the story on a later occasion, Auerbach commented, ““I couldn’t take that. I fined him twenty-five dollars for insulting my intelligence.”

Stuart Strachan Jr.

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Related Themes

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Attitude

Bitterness

Criticism

Judging

Offense

& Many More