bible blog 1016

Today’s blog is late as I’ve been busy. Sorry. As usual it follows the daily readings of the Reformed Churches.

Daily Headline: Turkish Conductor convicted of mocking Islam

Fazil Say: What use is a religion that can't be mocked?

Fazil Say: What use is a religion that can’t be mocked?

Luke 4:14-30

J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

Jesus begins his ministry in Galilee

14-15 And now Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,—and news of him spread through all the surrounding district. He taught in their synagogues, to everyone’s admiration.

16-19 Then he came to Nazareth where he had been brought up and, according to his custom, went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read the scriptures and the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book and found the place where these words are written—‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord’.

20-21 Then he shut the book, handed it back to the attendant and resumed his seat. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed upon him and he began to tell them, “This very day this scripture has been fulfilled, while you were listening to it!”

22 Everybody noticed what he said and was amazed at the beautiful words that came from his lips, and they kept saying, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

23-27 So he said to them, “I expect you will quote this proverb to me, ‘Cure yourself, doctor!’ Let us see you do in your own country all that we have heard that you did in Capernaum!” Then he added, “I assure you that no prophet is ever welcomed in his own country. I tell you the plain fact that in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were shut up for three and a half years and there was a great famine through the whole country, there were plenty of widows in Israel, but Elijah was not sent to any of them. But he was sent to Sarepta, to a widow in the country of Sidon. In the time of Elisha the prophet, there were a great many lepers in Israel, but not one of them was healed—only Naaman, the Syrian.”

28-30 But when they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was furiously angry. They sprang to their feet and drove him right out of the town, taking him to the brow of the hill on which it was built, intending to hurl him down bodily. But he walked straight through the whole crowd and went on his way.

native and foreign

native and foreign

The way Luke tells it, Jesus almost goes out of his way to insult his own people who haven’t until then offered him any criticism at all. Mark says plainly that because of their lack of faith Jesus was unable to perform any miracles among them. Luke has Jesus suggest that he was never  really sent to them in the first place, but rather to gentiles. In effect Luke is reading the rejection of Jesus by his own people back into the start of his ministry. The God of Jesus, like the God of the prophets, has tied himself to Israel only if the people will be his witnesses to the Gentiles. If not, the prophets will have to do it for them.

Small wonder the people rejected this teaching which seemed to contradict their most cherished beliefs.

So it’s entirely possible that if Jesus comes back he’ll choose to work among Moslems in Somalia rather than with Pope Francis in Rome; and that plenty good Christians may want to kill him. Luke is making the point that decent, religious people rejected Jesus because, well, because he wasn’t a decent religious person, but like Elisha and Elijah an unruly prophet with a preference for outcasts and foreigners. He’s a hard case for for the Christian marketing department. That’s why most evangelical campaigns avoid any detail about the teachings and actions of Jesus.  These have to be given the body – swerve in case decent people are put-off; they’re so sensitive. Most parents would probably not want their kids associating with a person like Jesus. He might be the Son of God but he wouldn’t help them succeed in life. If you knew Jesus, would you put him on your CV?

On the other hand, he’s just the sort of person that noisy children, rebellious teenagers, people put down by others, plus rogues and rascals of all ages, do like; but for some reason these groups are no conspicuous  in churches. 

Oh no, you don't

Oh no, you don’t

Maybe, just maybe,  the tendency of the churches to hide the feisty Jesus is a mistake; and that if they just told his story, followed his way and gave the  pious paraphernalia a well-deserved shove, churches might rediscover faith, truth, justice, peace, joy compassion, controversy and very likely, crucifixion by the religious and political establishments of the world.

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