"Agendas" Pastor Gus Lohrum
February 3, 2019
Set the scene
Early in the ministry of Jesus.
Jesus has been baptized (3:21).
He has been victorious over his time of temptation in the wilderness. (4:1-11)
This week I was reminded of a great statement regarding how Jesus confronted his time of temptation. Someone said, overcoming temptation is choosing between what is good and what is right. Jesus chose what was right; instead of what appeared to be good.
Jesus has begun his ministry and word about his power was spreading. Luke 4:14 states, “Then Jesus filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country.” 4:14
Now we enter the story of his first ministry efforts at his home in the town of Nazareth.
Jesus reads prophecy from Isaiah 61:1-2.
The prophecy reminds us about God’s heart for people.
The prophecy reminds us about conditions of suffering God will one day end.
The prophecy from Isaiah claims God was going to send a leader/messiah to bring this about.
Then the people heard Jesus claim he fulfills that prophecy.
Reaction of the People 4:22
The hometown folks compliment Jesus and were impressed with him.
The towns people respond with a question, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”
There can be debate whether this is a cynical question, like “O yeah sure, isn’t this Joseph’s son?
Or, this is a question containing pleasant surprise, like “Wow is this Joseph’s son?”
New Testament scholar, Joseph Fitzmyer believes the tone of the reaction from the people was one of more pleasant surprise.
Now let’s see how Jesus responded.
Reaction of Jesus to the reaction of the people. 4:23-27
What motivated this provocative response from Jesus?
I see this as a scene where Jesus pressed with confrontation the home town folks sooner than later, more than he did others that he encountered and confronted.
I mean, it’s not like Jesus had been back home teaching for a while and they are not getting who he is. This is not like the moment where Jesus turns in frustration and said to his inner circle of the 12 disciples that he had been with for a while and said, “Have I been with you so long and you still don’t understand.”
Here at Nazareth, Jesus doesn’t waste time risking controversy at home despite the fact that the home folks seem to have been complimentary of him.
Someone said about the response of Jesus, Blossoms aren’t always a sigh of fruit.” (author unknown)
His response assumed the people had preconceived expectations of him. “Physician heal yourself” v.23 He assumed they wanted him to prove himself.
“Do here in your hometown the things we heard you did in Capernaum.” v.23 Meaning, give us preferential treatment.
“No prophet is welcome in his hometown.” v.25 He predicted they would have contempt for the familiar.
Then, Jesus reminded them of a time when God worked miracles through two of the most beloved prophets from the Old Testament, Elijah and Elisha; but the miracles were performed outside of Israel for the non-Jews/Gentiles. vs.25-28
When Jesus mentions prophets going outside of Israel to do healing, think of how some of you might react if a hometown person who had lived away from Memphis for a while, came back to visit and told you the best barbecue was in St. Louis or Birmingham – some Memphians would take offense.
This moment by Jesus is not an example of how to win friends and gain more followers on Twitter or Facebook.
But it is an example of Jesus choosing the right over the good, and the courageous over the timid.
Reaction of the people: 4:28-29
Two reactions from the people.
The Question - What is a story like this trying to tell us about God, Jesus and us?
I think this story is a story about the clash of agendas – God’s and ours’.
The word agenda comes from the Latin and it means “a list of things to be done.”
We can have agendas about a variety of things in life. We can have our agendas about our family life, work around the house, shopping, what to do when we’re on vacation. We all have our agendas, our list.
I almost entitled the sermon the clash of agendas because that is what seems to make sense of this scene. One-minute Jesus is the home town boy who has made good. The next thing you know, Jesus pricked the hearts of the home town folks with accusations. The home town folks respond with anger and the scene ends with the people wanting to throw him off a cliff. It is wild scene.
St, Augustine once said, “People love the truth when it enlightens them. People hate the truth when it accuses them. (Pastor Skip Hertizig)
Jesus spoke truth.
This certainly isn’t scripture to use to portray the warm soft fuzzy image we have of Jesus in the white robe holding a lamb in his arm.
I think it is a story that teaches us Jesus knew underneath the surface of the compliment, his people held a different agenda than God’s about life and treating people who were different than them.
I heard someone explain this way. A husband said often he starts their day off by asking his wife what she has planned for the day. He asked because he cares and is interested. He said to be honest there can also be times when he will ask her politely what she has planned, but he only wants to know because he has his own agenda to work into the conversation. The same dynamic can work between God and us.
I believe, Jesus sensed that their agenda was to offer a polite acceptance of him and God’s will.
It’s like most of us know what the big issues of our day are. We know, the political, racial, environmental, economic and religious issues. We know there is one response on the surface to these issues to not appear to be against; but underneath the surface, sometimes there can be a different conviction and opinion.
The word agenda means list and early in his ministry Jesus was letting his hometown folks know, that he knew there were some priorities of God missing on their list/agenda.
Jesus said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” V.21
If we are listening to God, the presence of God is with us today.
Today God sees the agenda/list we have on our hearts.
Jesus goes deeper than our politeness and compliments about him.
It takes more than politeness to experience God living through us because God often calls us to live in ways that are counter-culture and counter to our will.
God sees his priorities that are not on our list.
God sees whether we are seeking him to be the one to prioritize our list/agenda for how we live every day.
God sees whether we have a true desire to be involved in his compassion for the hurting or we have only a polite concern.
Illustration: I recently heard Pastor Matt describe how perhaps the attraction with super hero movies reveals we want to be a part of something great and we want to sacrifice for others. The problem is we can be content with virtual sacrifice and serving versus the first-hand experience.
And as we reboot our ministry in a new facility, remember that everything we do is to accomplish God’s agenda for the hurting people in the new community we are called to serve.
Who gets what class space?
Who gets what office space?
To rename or not that is the question.
All of those questions and tasks are on our to do list, but need to be answered as we seek to put the ministry agenda of Jesus before our own.