Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Unwelcome Good News Luke 4:14-30

Not every prophet is welcomed—especially when they have to speak to the people who assume they know the prophet already. When Jesus went home—to Nazareth he met rage and the deepest hurt of the people.

Luke tells the story of his moment in Nazareth, his hometown up in the hills. He was maybe a days walk west of Lake Galilee. He went into the synagogue, just like he did every week. Luke says it was his custom. It was a religious act—a ritual that meant something to him and others in his generation in Nazareth. Jesus stood up and read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. These words from an ancient prophet proclaimed hope and the coming of God's anointing Spirit. Isaiah promised good news – good news for the poor, release for the captives and sight returning for the blind.

Jesus rolled up the scroll. He handed it back to the person who served as leader in the synagogue. And what he had to say next spoke to the people's deepest hopes and expectations.

σήμερον πεπλήρωται ἡ γραφὴ αὕτη ἐν τοι̂ς ὠσὶν ὑμω̂ν
at this hour these word are fulfilled in your hearing
Luke 4:21
Imagine the smiles and the looks of satisfaction in the eyes of the hometown crowd as Jesus spoke. He was reading some to the sweetest words of a beloved old book. What he read it was like a healing balm for hurting souls. God knows we need to hear these words of hope.

The people had heard about miracles in other cities. And in that moment they waited wondering what Jesus could do in their town. He spoke directly to their expectation. And his words had bite,
λέγω ὑμι̂ν ὅτι οὐδεὶς προφήτης δεκτός ἐστιν ἐν τῃ̂ πατρίδι αὐτο
I say to you that no prophets is acceptable in their parents land/town
Luke 4:24
Quickly he was naming miracles that came for foreigners and even the enemies of his people.

He spoke of help coming for a foreign woman and child while the people of Israel suffered The people knew the story. Elijah, a great man of God, came to this widow in Zarapheth and her to share food with him. She was planning to cook a last meal for her and her son. But the prophet convinced her—a foreigner—to help him. She took her last meal and last oil and cooked him a little cake. And her jug of oil and jar of meal never ran out. It was a miracle but a huge question was left—why would God help her and her son when the people of Israel knew suffering (1 Kings 17).

Now Jesus spoke of even more troublesome miracle. Naaman—the general of the neighboring super power Syria came looking for help and Elisha healed him. Sure there were others in Israel with skin diseases—but God's servant Elisha was the one who gave Naaman directions how he could healed (2 Kings 5).

Jesus named the truth: God had done great things for people beyond one nation. His words pushed his own hometown crowd too far. The truth of his words brought out deep seated anger And the enraged crowd pushed him to the edge of town. They were ready to push him of the brow of hill—and Jesus slipped through the crowd.

Preaching the Good News often means speaking of God's love that is greater than human love. Some will not want to hear that their is good news for all the worlds hurting. Some don't understand the breadth and depth of God's love. Some think God is like them because they are so limited by the sin of racism, classicism, anti-semitism, and all other kinds of hate and ism. To be like Jesus means boldly prolcaiming good news. Preaching the power of God means announcing hope not just for those I like or love—but for all the hurting of the world.

May we have courage to speak so boldly to the world,
Peace and thanks for reading, John.

Monday, January 14, 2019

saving the best John 2:1-11

Jesus first followers knew first hand what it was like to just be with Jesus. They walked with him and ate with him. They heard him teach with power and authority. But there was a first time they saw his power and believed.

John's gospel tells the story about the first sign--the first miracle that made it so clear that God is up to something, something good, in Jesus.

Jesus mother was attending a wedding. Jesus and his first followers were there too. As the day went on the wine ran out. Mary, Jesus mother, told him the news. His response seems terse.

τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, γύναι; οὔπω ἥκει ἡ ὥρα μοu.
What it that to me and you, woman; it is not my time/hour
Mary seemed to know what he could do, even if Jesus said his time/hour had not already come. There's something about their relationship that we start to see here. Mary had faith in her son. Even if Jesus said it was none of his business or hers Mary believed that Jesus could change this situation.

God is God with or without our faith. But Mary's insistance, that Jesus is able, tells us that she had a sense of the possible not just when the time has come. Jesus, Mary believed, could act in that moment. She turned to one of the servants saying,
ὅ τι ἂν λέγῃ ὑμι̂ν ποιήσατε.
Whatever he says to you do it.
His directions were simple, fill up the big jugs, the ones used for washing water. These 6 pottery crocks held 20 or 30 gallons each. The servant filled them and Jesus told them to draw some water out and bring it to the chief servant. When he tasted it he was surprised.
πα̂ς ἄνθρωπος πρω̂τον τὸν καλὸν οἰ̂νον τίθησιν καὶ ὅταν μεθυσθω̂σιν τὸν ἐλάσσω· σὺ τετήρηκας τὸν καλὸν οἰ̂νον ἕως ἄρτι.
Every one, first sets out the good wine, and when they have drunk a few, then the inferior; you kept the good wine till now.
The crocks held 120-180 gallons of water. That would be well more than 600 or even 800 bottles of wine. It was a sign--but Jesus wasn't announcing his presence with words. His actions revealed the truth. And his disciples believed in him that day.

May we be filled with faith and hope too.
May we like Mary believe in Jesus ability to move. AMEN
Peace, and thanks for reading.