Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

Fulfilled II

February 3rd:

February 3, 2013
Call:       1 Corinthians 13: 1-13
Text:       Luke 4: 21-30
Read:   Psalm 71: 1-6   (794)

                Fulfilled II

Last week we heard the two inaugural addresses
    President Obama's   in Washington   on Monday the 21st
    Jesus'          in Nazareth on Sunday the 27th.

The President's was presented live.
Jesus' was presented in our service by a "Two Millennia Tape Delay"

As important as the one in Washington was,
For the purpose of our worship,
    The event in Nazareth was the more important of the two.

In Nazareth
    Jesus appeared before people who were excited that he was there
        For they had heard what he had been doing elsewhere
        And they wanted to hear     and they wanted to see
what he would do in his own home town.

Therefore they listened with acute anticipation     We did too.

We saw him take the scroll of Isaiah
And we heard him read from it   [4: 18-19]
Then we saw him roll up the scroll
And give it back to the attendant
Before sitting down, and saying,
    "Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

As we noted last week,
Their initial response was one of amazement     and approval
    For they spoke well of him.

That's where we left off last week.

Today we resume the story of Jesus in the Nazareth synagogue
with the second reaction of the people who were present.
This occurred when someone(s) spoke up and asked,
        "Is this not Joseph's son?"

Like two weeks ago when Mary said, "They have no wine."
    We have several options as to how we hear the tone of those words
    And what option we choose influences how we understand the text

Was it puzzlement?          "Is this not Joseph's son?

Was it increasing skepticism?   "Is this not Joseph's son?"

Was it sharp sarcasm?           "Is this not Joseph's son?"

It seems unlikely that the tone was one of puzzlement.
For they had heard about him before that day
And it seems that they were anxious to hear him.

It could be skepticism
That seems to be how Mark [6: 3-4] and Matthew [13: 55-57] present it

And in both of those gospels
    That skepticism approaches sarcasm.

But we are looking at the story as Luke tells it to us.

And in light of     the approval that Luke has already shared
and     the reaction Luke subsequently describes
it seems clear that when the people asked the question
    they were being neither skeptical nor sarcastic.

Instead they seem to have asked it
    With a  greedy and self congratulatory delight.
        "Is this not Joseph's son?"

Listen to the question in the context of
What happened before    and what happens afterwards. [22-30]

I - and many scholars much more knowledgeable that I -
    See the amazed people following their initial response with something like
        [snap fingers] "This is Joseph's son isn't it?
            Just think of the impact that this will have on us."

            "It will be great for God's chosen people
            Especially those of us who live in his home town."

You can almost see them planning the parades and celebrations.
You can envision them getting ready to create billboards saying,
    "Nazareth - Home of Jesus the Christ"

And Jesus understood
that in their reaction, they anticipated        special treatment

He probably shook his head in sadness
    He had just told them that he had been sent to bring
good news to the poor   and freedom to the oppressed.

Through the proverb "Doctor, cure yourself."
    He let them know    that he knew    that they were thinking
        That his neighbors  would get priority in what he did.

He followed that with references to Elijah and Elisha
    And their healing   of gentiles.

Not only were the people in Nazareth not getting special treatment
    He had come         not just for the Jewish people
    He had also come    for ...   the gentiles.

The gentiles!   The people who were not Jewish.
The gentiles!   The people on whom they looked down.
The gentiles!   The people whom they did not see as God's children

Now, I don't know how many of you remember
William Bendix as Chester C. Riley
In the 1950s TV show, "The Life of Riley"

For those of you who don't
    (And several of you were not even born while this early venture into situation comedy was on)
    Bear with me.

But I'll bet that those of you who do remember will agree with me
That the best description of the reaction of those in Nazareth
Is summed up in Riley's catch phrase,
"What a revoltin' development this is!"

One minute they are delighted that one of them
    appears to be the messiah who fulfilled the prophecy
        The messiah for whom they had been praying
        The messiah whom they had long expected
        The messiah in whom they had placed their hope.

And now this kid from their own community
    Tells them that he is the messiah
But that he is very different from what they had expected.

Either this kid was a fraud
    Or God had played a trick on them.

As a result,    they were filled with rage
            They got up and drove him out of town
            And they led him to the brow of a hill
            So that they might hurl him off the cliff.

Can't you hear them screaming at him
"We know what the messiah is going to be like
And he certainly is not you,        You gentile loving fraud."
Fortunately, Jesus passed through the midst of them
and went on his way.

But I'll bet he felt much more sad than fortunate.

For he had told them
that he had come to fulfill a prophecy
as to the coming of a messiah who would proclaim
good news to the poor
and release to the captives and the oppressed.

And their reaction to that message of sharing and freedom
    Was to object to sharing him
    And to try to deny his freedom.

If we are as appalled and as repulsed by their reaction as I suspect
    Then as our journeys in faith continue
You and I had better make a point of listening to what God is saying
    Instead of dismissing or twisting it
to make it      what we think God ought to be saying.

And in listening        we had better remember
that God's message through Christ
    is one of love, mercy, and freedom
and one of inclusivity

Christ came not just for those we think are like us
but also and especially     for the poor and oppressed

Jesus said so   in his inaugural address.