The following is a summary of the sermon I preached at the Cornerstone Church on Sunday, March 5, 2017.
Part 2 of Jesus-Style. Luke 4:16-30
March 5, 2017. The Cornerstone Church.
PRAYER and BIBLE READING - LUKE 4:16-30
Jesus was a disrupter. He shook things up because he spoke for God. It seems like God’s words pretty much always clash with our ways - our assumptions and preconceptions and opinions and ways of doing things.
Today, I want us to take a close look at what Jesus said and did, so I’ve organized today’s teaching this way:
Jesus was surrendered.
Jesus was strategic.
Jesus was subversive.
When we’re done observing Jesus, I want to speak prophetically to us here. That’s when things will get quiet in the room :) But seriously, I think the applications we draw out of this passage will be very helpful to all of us. You’ll see!
A. JESUS WAS SURRENDERED - verses 16-20
The Bible portrays Jesus as a righteous, humble, faithful man. Jesus was God in human flesh. The incarnation of God. But the object of worship became a worshipper. He was a regular participant in the services of the synagogue. The man Jesus was obedient to the Father - we’ll see why in a moment. Here is one example (among many) of his commitment to live in righteous, humble submission to the Father:
“Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” 15 But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires. (righteousness)” So John agreed to baptize him.” - Matthew 3:13-15
The Bible portrays Jesus as a man under the authority of the Bible. After the psalms were sung, the elders in the synagogue asked Jesus to teach that day. He was known in the region as a traveling teacher - an unofficial rabbi - and it was his home church, so they wanted to hear him speak and maybe do some miracles. “And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed (fastened = intense emotion) on him.” - Luke 4:20
That day’s assigned reading was in Isaiah 61:1-2 (and 58:6) and Jesus searched through the the scroll until he found the place. It wa difficult to find a passage since there were no chapter divisions, no verse numbers, and no spaces between words. He would have read in Hebrew and translated into Aramaic, the language of his hearers.
Think about this: Jesus “wrote” the Bible. He didn’t need a scroll. He could have said anything and it would have been “the word of God.” But he wanted to demonstrate that he was a man under God’s authority.
Here’s why Jesus surrendered to the Father and did what was considered righteous: He was preparing to become a perfect, spotless, righteous representative for us on the cross. The connection between his obedience and his sacrifice for sins is explained in Hebrews 5:
“Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. 9 In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.” - Hebrews 5:8-9
B. JESUS WAS STRATEGIC - verse 21-22a
Jesus knew that he was on a mission for God. One of the many other examples of Jesus' consciousness that he was a strategic part of God's story is found in a story from his childhood. When Jesus was 12, his family went top to Jerusalem for the Passover. After the festival, they all started on the journey home, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem to question the teachers. When his frantic parents finally found him … “He said to his parents, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?” - Luke 2:49
Jesus knew that the entire story line of the Bible was ultimately about him - that he was a strategic figure in God’s rescue plan. And he knew that Isaiah 61 was ultimately about him, even thought it was written 600 years before him.
Isaiah 61 was a message of hope to God’s people in exile in Babylon. But it was also a promise of the coming great day of salvation at the end of the age. It's a beautiful promise of deliverance and blessing to hurting, broken, vulnerable people - the year of the Lord’s favor. This is a reflection of the every fifty years jubilee time in Israel (see Leviticus 25) when debts were forgiven, economic slaves released and land returned to families. Isaiah 61 promises a grand year of jubilee - more permanent and comprehensive freedom and fresh start.
Jesus said: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” - verse 21. He was saying: “What the prophet promised, that's what I’m doing right here, right now - by healing, forgiveness, deliverance, teaching and preaching good news. I’m bringing God’s salvation NOW! The Spirit of God has anointed me for this special royal, prophetic, priestly service. I'm the promised Messiah whose reign will never end.
What Jesus did not say and what no one in the crowd suspected is the final step he would take bring the day of God’s favor: THE CROSS - because our deepest need for deliverance is not political, physical, social, or economic. It is spiritual. His death on the cross, the ultimate act of deliverance was aimed primarily at spiritual renewal - the necessary precursor for all God will ultimately to bring about a new day of life, health and prosperity on the earth:
“We thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! 5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” - Isaiah 53:4-5
Jesus is strategic. He’s the center and culmination of God’s epic story. Anyone wanting to get in on what God is doing, must do it in reference to Jesus.
C. JESUS WAS SUBVERSIVE - verses 22b-30
Jesus now goes “off-script” and amps up the disruption to a ridiculous level. He spoke prophetically. And he caused a riot. He made two outrageous statements that were designed to rock the boat. In response to the people's dismissal of Jesus as a mere carpenter's son (what business did he have making emphatic statements of prophetic fulfillment?), Jesus spoke up to his detractors:
I’m a prophet - a super prophet like Elijah or Elisha. Elijah and Elijah were powerful, miraculous, and iconoclastic. They were sent to Israel when the people were far from God - steeped in pagan idolatry, led by a weak king, and an evil queen. Jesus' message was not too subtle - “you religious folks are a long way from God.”
I’m NOT here ONLY for the chosen people of Israel. This day of God’s salvation and favor isn’t just for you. It’s for foreigners too. And not just powerful, perfect, deserving foreigners. It’s for poor foreign widows. And it’s for foreign enemy generals with leprosy. Again, his message was not too subtle - “you religious folks don’t have an exclusive claim on God. In fact, if you reject me, you're rejecting what is doing now, here."
Jesus was a disrupter. He was subversive. He undermined the status quo. Tore down established ideas and traditions. He poked the hornets nest and rattled cages and rocked the boat. He did it for an important reason: he wanted these comfortably religious folks to get the message: God is not like play dough to be molded him into any shape you want him. It’s time to make some changes for the coming Kingdom of our God.
Jesus was a master communicator. The people knew exactly what he was saying and they didn't like it. So … the “good” people of the synagogue tried to kill Jesus. But they failed because it wasn’t time for him to die. (See John 10:18) He was not headed for death on a cliff. His journey would end at the cross.
How should we respond to this eye-opening passage?
Follow Jesus. He is such a complex, nuanced, courageous, essential person. He deserves to be worshipped and listened to and followed. We can join the crowd and try to get rid off him because he speaks such inconvenient truths. Or we can join the few who surrender to his claims.
“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” - Isaiah 45:22
Be formed by Jesus. This passage is about the way Jesus saw himself and his mission. That mission should shape our lives too. Jesus came for the “all”:
“Come to me, ALL who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” - Matthew 11:28
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL people to myself.” - John 12:32
"The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” - Isaiah 52:10
Spend yourself for the people “out there” - who aren’t in here yet. Ask the Lord to give you his heart for the ALL: the least, the last, the lost. Ask for open doors of opportunity to share your hope in Jesus.
And be subversive. Go forth in the same Spirit as Elijah and Elisha and Jesus. Reach out in love to the poor, the stranger, the foreigner, the immigrant, the refugee, the widow, the orphan, the broken, and the outcast sinner.