Monday Reverb – 31Jan2022

SERMON REVIEW

An Unacceptable Prophet

Luke 4:21-30 (NRSV)

 

Today’s message comes to us around the midpoint of the Epiphany season. We have been traveling mostly with Luke this Epiphany season and today we will use Luke’s account to travel with Jesus as he returns to his hometown.  Luke positions the narrative to correspond to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  Because of this we can look at the story with an eye to Jesus and his ministry to see what epiphanies we may have by it.  Remember, during the season of Epiphany we are looking at Jesus to see the mystery of God’s glory that he reveals.  When we have a story about Jesus recorded in Scripture, we are seeing into the very heart of God, who he is and who we are in relationship to him.  We will keep our eyes open for that perspective.  In addition, we will be able to gain some insights into the ministry of the church as it participates in Jesus’ continuing ministry by the Spirit in our day and age.

To start with, the passage we have today is the second part of the passage that began in verse 14 and was on the liturgical calendar for last week’s message.  In fact, the first verse for today’s reading was the last verse for last week’s reading.

Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21 NRSV)

For some context, Luke had just told the story of Jesus’ triumph in the wilderness over the devil’s temptations.  Then Luke records Jesus as being “filled with the power of the Spirit” and returning to Galilee (Luke 4:14).  In a synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus delivers his inaugural message.  He does this by using a passage in Isaiah where good news is proclaimed.  This message is well received, and everyone is excited about what they are hearing.  But in today’s message he uses two other passages that have the opposite effect.  We will see that epiphanies can often get a hostile reaction from eyes – that have been in darkness – burned by the light .  But before we get to that reaction, we see that, at first, the congregation responds positively.  

All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.  They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:22 NRSV)

Their rhetorical question about Jesus’ lineage is not to be understood in a negative sense, like it does in Mark’s account.  No, for Luke, the hometown crowd is not offended by this.  This is not a case of “familiarity breeds contempt.”  Rather, the way Luke is telling it, the hometown crowd sees this as an opportunity that is too good to be true.  If Jesus is all that he just proclaimed himself to be, a herald of good news, the Lord’s anointed, who proclaims the benefits and blessings of the Lord’s favor, then certainly this means his own longtime neighbors and family will be the main recipients — perhaps the only recipients.  It is like hearing of an old high school buddy who just won the lottery and now everybody thinks they are entitled to some preferential treatment.  But Jesus knows their hearts and he anticipates their reaction.  He also knows they need to see that he is not the son of Joseph, but the Son of God.

He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’  And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’” (Luke 4:23 NRSV)

There is nothing more frustrating than someone putting words in your mouth that say the very thing you’d rather keep concealed.  Jesus hits his mark.  The proverb “Doctor, cure yourself” means that the one who can heal or be a benefactor should take care of his own.  It is not implying that Jesus has a problem that he needs to attend to first.  Jesus’ next statement about Capernaum is clearer.  If Jesus has done wonderful miracles in Capernaum, then certainly he should do the same in his own backyard.  And maybe there is more to it than that.

Capernaum, since it was situated along one of the major international highways that connected Egypt with Mesopotamia, tended to attract a wider diversity of people.  This meant that its population was made up of both Jews and, to their discomfort, Gentiles — and lots of them.  Capernaum in this story serves as a contrast to the hometown Jews of Nazareth.  If Jesus is doing miracles in such a questionable place like Capernaum, then he will have to prove his loyalty to his own hometown by doing the same in Nazareth.  But Jesus will not be manipulated by the assumptions of people who thought they knew him best.

And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.” (Luke 4:24 NRSV)

The irony of this statement is that the word “accepted here is the same word used in verse 19 where Jesus quotes the prophet IsaiahThe prophet who is to proclaim the “acceptable” year of the Lord is himself not “accepted” by his own people.   And with Jesus equating himself to a prophet, we get one of our epiphanies about Jesus’ ministry.  It’s a prophetic ministry.  This means that Jesus is the proclamation of the kingdomHe is God’s Word spoken to us, proclaiming the good news to the whole world — Gentiles included.

There is no other word spoken to us that gives us the proclamation that brings healing, release from prison, sight to the blind or freedom from oppression.  As we, the church, participate in Jesus’ continuing ministry, we find that it has not changed.  We too are to proclaim the kingdom in Jesus Christ.  This means we point to Jesus in all that we say and do.  We don’t proclaim ourselves or any other counterfeit “good news.”

Notice how Jesus goes about the business of proclaiming in his prophetic ministry: He uses the Scriptures.  Last week we saw that Jesus gets a good response by citing Isaiah.  This week we will see that he will get a hostile response as a result of quoting from First and Second Kings.  God’s Word always gets a response.  Sometimes positive, sometimes negative.  This is an important “epiphany” to remember when proclaiming the good news.

As members of the church, we are not trying to get a responsewe are only trying to be faithful in proclaiming the WordThe response will follow … and we have no control over it.

Let’s see the passages Jesus uses to expose the hearts of those in his hometown.

But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon.  There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian. (Luke 4:25-27 NRSV)

Jesus reminds them of two stories of the prophets Elijah and Elisha who were rejected by their own people.  The first story is about Elijah providing an unending supply of food for a lowly Gentile widow and her son.  In this story no provision is made for any of the Israelites.  This is found in 1 Kings 17:8-16.   Then Jesus refers to the story of Elisha, who healed Naaman, a Syrian army officer who had leprosy. This story is found in 2 Kings 5:1-14.  Both stories show that the grace and favor God pours out was to their enemies, weak and strong alike.

The proclamation Jesus has is of a Father who does not show partiality.  This did not fit well with the Jews’ expectation of the Messiah.  The Messiah was supposed to come and destroy Israel’s enemies, not bless them.  The Jewish people of that time pretty much had two basic beliefs about the Messiah.

  • First, every generation believed that the Messiah would come soon and probably in their lifetime.
  • Second, this soon-coming Messiah would vanquish the Gentiles and bless and restore Israel.

Jesus’ proclamation that “Today” this time of blessing had come fit nicely with their first expectationBut by announcing that “no prophet is accepted” and using Elijah and Elisha blessing Gentiles over Jews, Jesus completely shattered their second expectation.  Here is their reaction.

When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage.  They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. (Luke 4:28-29 NRSV)

The proclamation of the universal nature of the Father’s favor turns their initial favor of Jesus into outright hatred.  They wanted to “hurl him off a cliff.”  Like Satan, who wanted Jesus to prove himself by throwing himself down from the temple, these Jews wanted the Messiah to answer to them and fulfill their expectations.  This is an extreme hostile reaction.  But Jesus did not soft-pedal what they needed to hear.  He did not shy away from offending their pride and hurting their self-centered identities.  True prophets are like that.  They proclaim God’s word without compromise.  May we as the church do so today even when our “hometown” turns hostile.

Unfortunately, the very favor and blessing Jesus’ hometown wanted Jesus to give was rejected.  Jesus is the Father’s favor that is proclaimed.  Like the hometown Jews, we too can fail to receive this favor … when we want it on our terms.

  • When we harbor hatred in our hearts towards those who have hurt us, we are not receiving the favor the Lord graciously pours out on all.
  • When we size up our neighbors as people beyond the reach of God’s grace, we expose our own hearts of pride and prejudice.
  • When we determine who is worthy of God’s favor, we bring assumptions and expectations that are out of line with God’s grace.

It is not up to us to draw lines of division between who is poor and who is rich, who is blind and who is enlightened, who is in captivity and who is free, who is the oppressed and who is the oppressor.  Jesus is the Prophet who comes to proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind and to let the oppressed go free.  He’s the only one who proclaims the acceptable year of the Lord … and that proclamation is made to all.

But what if we are like Jesus’ hometown and we struggle to accept it?  We have one final verse to consider.

 But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way. (Luke 4:30 NRSV)

This passage ends with Jesus escaping being hurled down the cliff by somehow slipping through the crowd and going on his way.  Throughout Luke’s Gospel we see Jesus go through the crowd many times, all the way to the cross.  Nothing will stop the favor of the Father being poured out on all his children.  Even the animosity we turn towards him does not prevent God’s favor toward us.

Praise God that Jesus is the Prophet sent to us.  His word trumps any word we try to give ourselves and any word we try to give each other that is not from him.  We can pray, thy will be done, because his will is perfect and brings light to our darkness, even when the light hurts.  He loves us that much and he is faithful.

As we come to believe and receive this amazing grace, we can then turn to our neighbors and even to our enemies with the same grace, forgiveness and favor the Father has for us.   In doing so, we join Jesus in proclaiming the good news of his kingdom.

 


DOCTRINAL REVIEW

 

ASSURANCE OF SALVATION

 

What is the assurance of salvation?

  • It’s the confidence that the salvation of a believer is sure … and that it cannot be lost or reversed.
  • It’s been explained by some as having the belief that “once saved, always saved.”

Can anyone really be sure he/she will be in God’s Kingdom (Heaven) after he/she dies?  

How can one be sure of salvation?  

  • Because the Bible speaks of ETERNAL SECURITY for believers in Christ, which means, essentially, that IF you are a believer in Christ, THEN you can be sure you will be saved.

Isn’t ASSURANCE OF SALVATION the same as ETERNAL SECURITY?  

  • NO.  Many people seem to think so.
  • But there is a BIG difference between Assurance of Salvation and Eternal Security.
  • For example, a believer can lose one, but he/she cannot lose the other (i.e. a believer can lose the assurance of his/her salvation, BUT that believer cannot lose his/her eternal security.)

What is the difference between Assurance of Salvation and Eternal Security?

  • Assurance of Salvation is confidence that one cannot lose his/her salvation and will be saved, ultimately.
  • Eternal Security is state of being saved forever.
  • NOTE … One is a belief … the other is a reality that comes by virtue of one’s position in Christ.
      • As noted earlier, you can lose one, but you cannot lose the other.
      • You can lose Assurance of Salvation (if you stop believing that you will be saved) … but you CANNOT lose Eternal Security (because that is a REALITY, whether you believe it or not).

What is it about ETERNAL SECURITY that makes it a reality (or surety)?

  • Eternal Security is a surety because it is a based on the REALITY that a believer is IN CHRIST.

Why is the reality of our position IN Christ so important to the concept of eternal security?

  • Romans 6:3-9 (KJV) …  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ (see 1Cor.12:12-13) were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin.  Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:  Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no moredeath hath no more dominion over him.
  • ** see 1 Cor.12:12-13
  • Romans 6:3-9 (ESV)  …   Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus** were baptized into his deathWe were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christwe believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die againdeath no longer has dominion over him
      • Re: v.9 … IF Christ will never die again … and we are united with Christ … THEN we will never die again either … UNLESS we were somehow able to separate ourselves from Him … AND WE CAN’T (see Romans 8:29-30)
  • Spirit baptism joins the believer into union with Christ.  This becomes the new spiritual position of the believer.  Phrases such as “in Christ,” “in the beloved,” and “with Christ,” used over and over again in Paul’s epistles, refer to this concept.  This calls attention to the fact the Bible emphasizes we are saved and accepted through our position in — or union with — Christ.
      • Ephesians 1:3  Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ.
      • Ephesians 1:6  to the praise of the glory of his grace that he has freely bestowed on us in his dearly loved Son.
      • Ephesians 2:5-6  even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you are saved! —  6 and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
      • Colossians 2:10  and you have been filled in him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
      • 2 Timothy 2:11-13  This saying is trustworthy: If we died with him, we will also live with him.  12 If we endure, we will also reign with him.  If we deny him, he will also deny us.  13 If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself.
  • This is a place not only of security, but of double security!  Our union with Christ is a guarantee of glory.
      • Colossians 3:3-4  for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  4 When Christ (who is your life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with him.

 

To understand why some persons say they have the assurance of salvation, it is probably best to find out what most of them mean by eternal security … given that assurance of salvation is based on eternal security.

That’s where we plan to start in our next Monday Reverb.

 

 

 

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