Sunday, 1 September 2013

Prophecy for Real - Luke 4:18 - 30

Quoting from Isaiah 61 Jesus opens his 'campaign speech' with the declaration that 'Today this scripture is fulfilled!'. In an instant he brings together hundreds of years of prophecy and waiting, converging it all on himself. The Isaiah verses sets his purpose squarely in God's bias to the poor. His life and his being was about being good news to the poor.

Yet the listeners didn't receive it as good news. In fact as Jesus spoke more they wanted to throw him off a cliff. The problem was that although they were awaiting the messiah, the messiah they expected was a warrior to kick out the Romans and bring blessing exclusively to God's people. Yet Jesus omitted the 'day of vengeance' bit from Is 61:2, and implied blessing can go out to the gentiles - offensive words to those who figured they were in the holy club.

Today some think that Jesus is just about saving people for eternity, seeing the Isaiah quote as metaphorical or to be read in spiritual terms. Yet Jesus didn't do that - faced with sick people he physically healed them! His intervention was practical in the here and now, not simply spiritual.

Do we have a pre-conceived idea of what Jesus should be like? Hence our key question:

[UP] Which messiah is your messiah?

Probably not a warrior king, but for some the 'spiritual only' version above, and others the 'bless those in church' version. Yet for us our biggest threat is the bombardment of consumer thinking, leading us to adopt Jesus as a consumer commodity messiah: one that gives us religious 'feel good' factor, or a warm fuzzy feeling ... yet should something better in the future crop up we will happily ditch and switch.

With a consumer mentality we don't expect Jesus to make any demands of us, or require us to change in any way. Faced with the real messiah might actually annoy us ... to the point of wanting to throw him off a cliff.

Yet as in the passage Jesus will walk straight through and continues on his purpose: Jesus is the messiah regardless of what we think.

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