Postmodern Prophet -

Not Fit

But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62, NLT)

Half measures will not do. You will either follow Jesus or you will not follow Jesus.

The church is full of people who like the idea of following Jesus. Full of people who like the benefits of following Jesus. Who like the routine of following Jesus, or the camaraderie, or the feelings, or the traditions. The church is not full of people who truly follow Jesus without looking back, without a hidden agenda, without reservations.

Half measures will not do.

Follow Me

Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
(Luke 9:23–26, NRSV)

Jesus was addressing his disciples after a time of prayer and a time of sharing with them who he truly was. Seems like kind of a high point followed by a major buzzkill. Lots of talk about dying.

I’m not sure about how much of this applies to us. We aren’t persecuted and martyred these days like many of the ones Jesus addressed were. But I do have a feeling that the deny yourself to follow Jesus still matters. We are to put him, his kingdom, his church, his people above ourselves. We are part of a bigger cause.

Sometimes we think about church as a club. We get together with like-minded people, hang out, drink coffee, worship, talk about the Bible and politics and problems we are having. I’m not sure Jesus would approve of that model. He wants us to put the cause first and put our own stuff further back in the queue.

I don’t want Jesus to be ashamed of me and I don’t want him to be ashamed of us. Let’s follow him the way he wants us to follow him.

Get Up

Then Jesus took her by the hand and said in a loud voice, “My child, get up!”
(Luke 8:54, NLT)

That’s pretty simple. No rigamarole. Just a request, or maybe a command, to get up. The girl, who was dead, got up. Her mom and dad were delighted, naturally, and amazed.

She hadn’t been dead long and her cells were still mostly intact. It may be different for me. When it’s time for my resurrection and yours our molecules may be scattered near and far. But it will be no more difficult for Jesus to raise us than it was for him to raise the little girl.

He’ll just say, “My child, get up!” And we will. We will be raised into a perfect kingdom where Jesus is the light.

Do not fear. Only believe. And be saved.

Perfectly Sane

People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid.
(Luke 8:35, NLT)

They are more afraid now than when the man was naked. They are more afraid now than when he lived in the tombs. Now the man is clothed and perfectly sane and they are afraid.

They were so afraid they asked Jesus to leave and they missed out on what he might have done among them. Because they were afraid of a perfectly sane man.

Some irony there, I think. I suppose we too might be afraid of what Jesus has done or what he might do.

Good Soil

And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.
(Luke 8:15, NLT)

First, you have to hear it. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!

Then, if you are honest and good-hearted, you cling to it. Like the psalmist of Psalm 119, your delight is in God’s word. You hang on to it like a life vest. When the diabolos wants to snuff out your nascent life in Christ, you cling to the word and to Jesus. When it seems to hard to trust God, you cling to the word and to Jesus. When life gets too bad or too good and you are could be distracted, you cling.

Eventually you bear fruit. Put that together with the fruit of your brothers and sisters and it means something. It adds up.

Listen. And cling.

No Torment Will Ever Touch Them

But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be a disaster, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace. For though in the sight of others they were punished, their hope is full of immortality. Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them. In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble. They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will reign over them forever. Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones, and he watches over his elect.
(Wisdom of Solomon 3:1–9, NRSV)

Don’t you wish that was in your Bible? (If you are Roman Catholic, it is in your Bible.)

Apparently, one of the prominent views of Second Temple Judaism is expressed by the Wisdom of Solomon here. Wouldn’t it make for a good funeral sermon?

I can’t think of any place in the Protestant Bible that says anything similar. Can you?

Wild with Rage

At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him.
(Luke 6:11, NLT)

All he did was heal a man. He made his messed up hand whole. On the Sabbath.

He didn’t hurt anyone. In fact, he helped someone. On the Sabbath.

Nothing makes self-righteous people more angry than someone breaking the rules.

The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.

Scum

But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?” Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.
(Luke 5:30–31, NLT)

Those who are scrupulous about the law are concerned with separating people into groups. What group you belong to is the most important thing to them. Ultimately, they divide people into those who are in and those who are out. Anyone who attended high school will understand this concept.

Jesus blows away the dividing lines. People are people.

  1. I want to be like Jesus in this regard.
  2. I, too, am sick.

Fulfilled

Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
(Luke 4:21, NLT)

Jesus claimed to fulfill the OT. That’s pretty bold. You need to be pretty sure of yourself to do that.

They tried to kill him for his impudence. But it wasn’t yet time for him to be killed. That would come later.

Jesus brings good news to the poor. Jesus proclaims release to the captives. Jesus proclaims recovery of sight to the blind. Jesus proclaims the year of the Lord’s favor.

Then he died for it. He died for those to whom he made the proclamations. He died for us.