Rejected at Home; Ministry Moves On

given the 2nd Sunday of Lent, March 20, 2011

Rejected at Home; Ministry Moves On

 

Last week we began our Lenten journey in the Holy Land, called Judea in Christ Jesus’ time.  The look we had at the land really did not hold many surprises, but the sense of time travel came from the words of the scripture.  We learned that the gospel John was the only one to develop the timeline for that first year, 27AD.

When Jesus performed that first public miracle, the water into wine at the wedding, we learned that he was hesitant to reveal his unique abilities, but his mother made the request and you know that when mothers talk, kids do.  The private Jesus became a public figure and news spread rapidly.

Today we take the journey into his second year and simply looking over the timeline, we see that the slow pace of His ministry intensified and sometimes overlapped.  The journey moves north from Samaria into Galilee.  Typically one might expect that returning to one’s hometown would make the challenges less difficult, but in today’s scripture from Luke 4:16-30 we find a different truth:  27 Well, let me tell you something: No prophet is ever welcomed in his hometown.

The first two verses in the hymn, “We Would See Jesus,” a quick review tells of Christ’s birth:

We would see Jesus; lo! His star is shining

above the stable while the angels sing;

there in a manger on the hay reclining;

haste, let us lay our gifts before the King.

 

We would see Jesus; Mary’s son most holy,

light of the village life from day to day,

shining revealed through every task most lowly,

the Christ of God, the life, the truth, the way. . . .

We all know the story, but the hymn seems to show that as Jesus grew up in Nazareth, the entire village did see something special in him.  The rejection that Jesus experienced, as an adult, does not seem appropriate, but remember the rejection was in the temple.  The Jewish patriarchs were so entrenched in The Laws that hearing someone brashly stating that He was the fulfillment of the prophecies threatened the very core of who they were.

Well, here it is our first day of Spring and we are starting off on such a negative point in Jesus’ ministry.  Maybe it is a little like the change of seasons to consider that Jesus’ rejection that Spring 29AD is like us kicking off the winter.  Instead of fighting for recognition in Nazareth, Jesus moved on.  In fact the reports in Matthew, Mark and Luke all state He “moved” north to Capernum and began his first Galilean tour.

Sounds a bit like a 21st century rock star going out on tour, and the third verse of our hymn describes His ‘tour’:

We would see Jesus, on the mountain teaching,

with all the listening people gathered round,

while birds and flowers and sky above are preaching

the blessedness which simple trust has found.

 

The setting’s description in that verse could be just as appropriate in our lives today as we look out and see Spring arriving.  The mountains and the people, though, were in Galilee.  The mountains, as you can see in the pictures, are not the mountains like we might be thinking—you know, the Rocky Mountains or maybe the Appalachian.  Actually the mountains I see in the pictures are more like our very own Ozark Mountains.

Imagine yourselves welcoming spring in while out in the fields, working in the yards, hanging out clothes—oops, wrong century—or even out on the lake fishing.  You have heard about this man called Jesus.  You may even know Him personally.  Wouldn’t you be a bit surprised, if you turned around in the field and saw this group of people sitting around listening to this man?  I can hardly imagine it, but I know one thing about myself—I would have to go see for myself, especially if it was in my own field or under the tree by the lake.

This is when I begin learning what the message Jesus shared with his own people in Galilee.  Looking at the timeline, comparing the various scriptures from all four gospels, well three as John seldom includes much from that spring and very little in the Fall, 29AD.  I notice, too, that the verses in Matthew do not follow a chronological timeline as I expected.  Mark, Luke, and John all seem to keep the chronology in perspective.  The only explanation comes from knowing the purpose and the audience of Matthew.

Matthew, a Levite, wrote his gospel to the Jews with the purpose of proving that Jesus was the Messiah.  The Jewish patriarchs in Nazareth simply were not prepared for Jesus to introduce himself to them as the Messiah even though word was circulating that he could perform miracles.  The Jewish defenses were up, Matthew, writing 30-35 years later still is trying to convince the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. (Life Application Bible, p. 1636)

John Mark, who accompanied Paul on his missionary journey to Rome, though not written by one of the disciples, wrote the gospel Mark.  He wrote to the Christians in Rome, introducing Jesus as a person along with a record of his work and teachings (Ibid, p. 1722). By comparison, a doctor who was trying to convince a Gentile about Jesus’ message wrote Luke.  His goal was “to provide an accurate account of His life as a perfect human.”  (Ibid, p. 1782) The apostle John, nephew of the disciple James, wrote the gospel to New Christians as proof Jesus was the son of God. (Ibid, p. 1856).

Oh my, the role of historian is not always comfortable for tour guides, but as our journey continues along the shores of the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee, we stop at the different villages.  We feel the land beneath our feet.  We feel the breezes off the lake against our face.  We smell the crops in the fields and hear the livestock off in the distance.  We are living in the very same world that Jesus lived thousands of years ago.

We have Truman Lake fed by the Osage River.  We have the low rising hills wrapping around the lake.  We have the fields that are plowed, disked and waiting to be planted as the March winds dry the fields.  We tell stories to our family and friends of what we heard at the store, at work, or at the cafe.  News travels like that.  Sometimes we believe the news shared from one person to another better than what we hear on the TV news or read in the local papers.  The hymn summarizes what all the Galileans were hearing:

We would see Jesus, on the mountain teaching,

with all the listening people gathered round;

while birds and flowers and sky above are preaching

the blessedness which simple trust has found.

 

We would see Jesus, in his work of healing,

at eventide before the sun was set;

divine and human in his deep revealing

of God made flesh, in loving service met.

 

These words are so familiar, not just because we sing them, but because when we go out in the morning, we echo them in our own minds.  We, as Christians, see God in action each and every day.  Are we sharing the message with others?  Are we going to return from this journey and eagerly tell others what we learned?  Are we going to return to serve as Jesus taught us to serve?

The reports preserved in the four gospels sometimes are almost word for word.  Whether reading the modern translation in The Message, the King James Versionold or new, the New International Version, or the Wesley Study Bible in the New Revised Standard Version, the words hold the same meaning.  Over the next week, check a few of the comparative verses listed on the timeline.  Then discuss it with at least one other person.  Share what you have learned.

The time is almost here for us to load up and get back on the bus.  We have another week ahead to continue our journey.  We need a little rest, a little time to process what we are experiencing.  Maybe it is time to sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and read some of the scriptures.

In the “Life Application Topics” boxed into the Wesley Study Bible is one titled “Discipleship”:

As Jesus walks along the sea, teaching the crowd, he notices Levi the tax collector working at his job.  Whatever we might see, Jesus sees a potential disciple.  Jesus shatters our expectations even further when he and his disciples become guests at Levi’s for dinner.  We should not be surprised when Jesus becomes friends with and calls to himself those that we may consider unlikely candidates for discipleship.  This reminds us that we should never assume that we are in charge of the guest list at the table of Jesus.  (p. 1210)

Are we keeping quiet about our trip, or are we sharing our news?  We have been asked to make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world.  Our visit along the paths here in our communities is the same as Jesus’ tours of his own in Galilee.  It is not always easy as we learn, but seeing how He managed His life makes it easier for us to manage ours.  This week think about that last verse in the hymn:

We would see Jesus, in the early morning,

still as of old he calleth, “Follow me!”

Let us arise all meaner service scorning;

Lord, we are thine, we give ourselves to thee.

 

We do know Jesus and we do see him each and every day.  Our Galilee is our own county of Henry/Johnson.  We are today’s disciples and it is for us to “give ourselves to Jesus”.

Dear Busy, Busy God,

Our souls brighten with each breath of spring. and

We see the crocus and jonquils lit by the sun.

We hear your words in the chirping of the birds.

We smell the sweetness of the newly plowed fields.

We can imagine those days when Jesus walked

The paths of Galilee greeting the seasons, too.

Help us to hear His words, to understand His teaching,

And to believe in the miracles and in His healings.

May His journey make our journey easier.

May His work serve as a model for our service.

May we be His disciples today in our own county.

Thank you, God, for the gift of Jesus and the gift of Spring.

We hear You, we follow You, and we serve You.            –Amen

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