i can’t remember any time recently when i wanted to kill the pastor of the church i was in [Ben the Priest is kinda cool!]. In fact it’s probably more likely that there were people thinking those kinds of thoughts about me during some of my more challenging or hectic messages back in the day.
But this morning at St John’s we were looking at Luke 4 which is an interesting passage and one that has been stalking me a lot recently [especially with regards to the Isaiah 61 crossover].
Jesus gets up and reads a prophecy about the Messiah that the Jewish nation have been anticipating and expecting and holding on for, for so many years, and then concludes with ‘Today this has been fulfilled in your presence’ basically announcing that He is the One.
The church congregation responds with vigour, cheering and pouring their money into the offering plate and going home and blogging about how glad they are being at the church they are at cos “The preacher kicks butt”… well, not quite… actually Luke goes on to say this:
28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff.
That’s not a story that comes quickly to mind when we think about Jesus. Jesus did a bit of a preach and the crowd took Him to the nearest cliff to try and throw Him off it.
Not the Jesus we like anyways. Or the Jesus we are used to. The comfortable Jesus. The Love and Grace and Peace and Kind Jesus. The “Jesus is my homeboy” kind of Jesus. You know, the one we have created in our own image and all.
And this is not the only time Jesus does this. In John 6 we see:
60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you?
Which results in pretty much all of His followers except the twelve disciples and the women who hung out with Him, deserting Him and heading off to find someone else.
Some thoughts i enjoyed from the preach today:
When last did you want to throw your pastor off a cliff?
Have you ever thought that when you heard a sermon? God can’t be saying that.
They missed that God was in their midst. Let’s not do the same.
If you are someone who attends a regular church meeting and over the last year you have not once been angered or felt critically challenged or maybe a little upset at something the pastor spoke about, then there may possibly be cause for alarm.
Moses, Abraham, Job, David, the disciples [the mom of the disciples], the Pharisees, the crowds all took issue at one time or another with the message of God that was brought to them. If it never challenges us, if it never hist against us, if it never calls us to a hard or dangerous place, then we really have to consider if it is the message of God at all.
i’m reminded of the description of Aslan the lion [who is a character depicting the heart and soul of Jesus] in the C.S.Lewis Chronicles of Narnia:
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
― C.S. Lewis,
The Jesus i follow is certainly not safe. When He looks at South Africa right now He sees the huge disparity between the haves and the have nots, He sees the divide between races, he sees the hunger for land and identity and dignity from the many who have been denied it for so many years and He sees the great reluctance of those who have those things or the means to get them to even come to the conversation or risk losing anything they hold so tightly on to, and His response is: This is not good. And He calls me to get involved.
The Jesus who says, “If you want to follow Me, then you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me” is definitely not safe.
But He is good. He’s the King, i tell you!