This Coming Sunday – Jesus’ Preaching, Part
The lectionary has split Luke’s passage about Jesus’ first (and apparently only) preaching in the Nazareth synagogue. Last week we looked at Jesus’ message itself – Isaiah 61. This coming week we’ll be looking at the response of his hearers: Luke 4:21-30. Following are just some initial thoughts I have – though with going to Calvin this Wednesday thru Saturday, I’d better get this baby written tomorrow! I don’t title my sermons, but if I did, I think it would be “You Don’t Own Me”. Here’s my thoughts so far:
- I note that in Luke’s version of this event, the people’s initial response is quite positive. I think the question “Is not this Joseph’s son?” isn’t an indignant response, as in Matthew and Mark. That wouldn’t make much sense given that the crowd has just marvelled at his words and spoke well of him. To this point Jesus hasn’t given them any reason to change their attitude toward him. Rather than indignance, I think it reflects the idea that “he’s one of our own”. They’re seeing Jesus as a homie, and proud of him. It’s what Jesus says next that ticks them off:
- v. 23 he reads in their hearts that they want him to do some miracle – like we enjoyed Mark McGwire hitting a home run more at home than when the Cards were on the road. They’re still thinking “Jesus is my homie”.
- v. 25-27 he implicitly compares them to the time of Elijah and Elisha – one of the low points in Israel’s history;
- he also implies that these Gentiles were more worthy of him than they are;
- if they’re thinking that Jesus will bring them some glory because he’s their homie, he’s telling them to forget it;
- v. 28-30 this insults their pride so much they’d rather throw him off a cliff than hear what he’s saying about their proud hearts.
- Jesus slips through their fingers, thus paradoxically giving them the miracle that they had wanted; he also demonstrates that they do not own him.
So why “You Don’t Own Me” – no he’s not Joseph’s son, no he’s not from your hometown (if it’s those who do the will of his Father who are his mother and brother and sister, I figure it’s the same for his homies), no he’s not about building your self-esteem, no he’s not captive to nationalistic or religious identities.
That’s it for now. What I’m still working on is the big question – where’s the Good News in this? It’s one thing to say that this is a sovereign God who doesn’t give a rip about national/religious pride. But what’s the good news, especially to mainliners who’ve heard this story a thousand times and think it’s about Jesus being open to “outsiders”?
For the exciting conclusion, tune in this Sunday!