I have no idea what the “Jesus” part of this blog is going to be, yet. I know what I wish it would be – the deepest, most beautiful, and prophetic writings ever – but I know what I’m just barely competent enough, and not even close to motivated enough, to run a basic blog, none the less an amazing one.
Major tangent: if you are wondering, adding food and beer to the blog is incentive to write. Want to try a new beer? Have to write about it if I do. Want to bake bread, thus nullifying any plans to lose weight I and Nora have? Make damn sure I have the camera handy. Either way, I get to cook and drink beer in the name of writing! So if this becomes a big blog about nothing more than beer, you know what happened…
Tangent aside, this week the Jesus portion is just going to be me musing for the purposes of sermon writing. So yes, you get the see all the crap parts of my thinking and, hopefully, my congregation will only get the good stuff. This will be all the firsts, seconds, and thirds of the whiskey; the sermon will be just the seconds and some thirds, aged a long time in a charred sherry barrel, and consumed from a rounded glass, warmed with body heat, and delicious.
…it will probably be more like Cabin Still bourbon, better than drinking the firsts but just barely, but I digress…
I decided to work my way through Luke, starting with the beginning of Luke for Advent, the nativity from Luke for Christmas, and then picking up as much of Luke that I can before I jump ahead for Lent and Easter, then Pentecost, and then go back and catch the rest before Advent. Using this plan, I preached on the temptation in the desert last week, and this week we move to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
I know I will talk about how this transition works, going from the honing and refining fire of the temptation into using that new steel of ministry. Something about that will come up when I finally put pen to paper and write out the lesson.
I would be remiss, though, to ignore the bigger story about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. This story where Jesus goes home to share the Good News, really Good News seeing as he is the Good News, and they respond in the best possible way ever:
The run Jesus out of town.
I will admit, I am drawn to this story because of the discouragement of it. I find it helpful to look at the timeline of events to fully understand what happens here.
First, Jesus is baptized and God comes down, affirming Jesus’ call (“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” – Luke 3:22 ESV). He’s going to start his process in ministry.
Second, he is tested. He is refined. He is taken into the desert, put through a horrible experience, basically has to decided to risk his own death or submit to the devil, and physically suffers for 40 days. In a way, he going into the desert rough and contaminated iron (no, I am not saying Jesus is contaminated or impure; it’s a metaphor…) and leaves refined, hardened, sharpened steel.
I can say, neither of these processes are easy. The first looks easy but, taken seriously, how easy is it, really, to submit yourself completely to God? It is a tough decision to make. Even if the submission is not hard, this baptism requires good timing and planning. It isn’t a simple thing. And immediately after, the Holy Spirit fills you and drags you to be tortured and tempted in the desert. Not my idea of a picnic.
But at the end, you know that you are going to start a ministry. You are going to share the Good News that you are bringing to the people. You are going to touch people, reach them on a level that they need to be reached, and given them hope and salvation.
…or, you know, you are going to be run out of town the first time you teach. That can happen, too.
He goes into town and teaches at the synagogue. He speaks eloquently, so much so that they are impressed. They rave because Joseph’s son, Joseph the stone carpenter, was teaching so well.
Then he tells them that prophets are welcome in their own town, followed by two examples of prophets not going to their own people to bless but outsiders. There were people in need in Israel yet the blessings went to outsiders.
It wouldn’t take much of a jump to hear this as Jesus was saying that these blessings weren’t for them but for the outsiders. Calvin points to this being a sign, to them, that Jesus was coming for the Gentiles and not the Jews (read here). Unsurprisingly, they didn’t take kindly to this and tried to run Jesus off a cliff.
Yup, his home town tried to kill him when he taught.
If that wasn’t discouraging, I don’t know what would be. Yet there is hope and there is guidance.
The hope I take from it is that you can be successful in ministry even if you are discouraged by a specific group of people. No need to expand, no need to elaborate.
The guidance, though, is more applicable to a sermon in my thinking. Sometimes the people who you are talking to aren’t ready to hear the message you have from you. You can say everything right and still they won’t hear you. Bring a prophetic message to people who helped raise you and they might just try to kill you. Thing that same prophetic message to people down the road and they might just change their lives and follow God. Some ears are ready to hear, some are not. Some ears are ready to hear you, some are not.
The message, then, is two-fold. First, do not loose heart in discouragement. There is a time, place, and method for everything. Any one of those not being right can, and often will, lead to failure. Keep searching for that. Keep looking. And keep ministering despite the discouragement. Quitting is not an option, and Christ’s message is a good one.
Second, when you hear prophetic messages against you, don’t shoot the messenger. Often times the message will come from someone you really don’t want to hear it from. Don’t let that force you not to hear it. Open your ears to the message that are coming to you. This isn’t to say that you necessarily need every message that comes, and that every message is right, but be willing to listen even if it is uncomfortable, even if it hurts, and even if it makes you evaluate every facet of your life.
Like I said, firsts, seconds, and thirds. A musing on a topic. It is what it is.
But I know Jesus loves me, and he loves you, too, so I can’t be all wrong 😉