Saturday, July 4, 2009

Pentecost 5 - Proper 9

Grant, Lord, that the course of this world may be so governed by Your direction that Your Church may rejoice in serving You in godly peace and quietness.

In Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth the people take offense at Him. The religious community had already written Him off. Now His friends and relative – the people from His own hometown will reject Him too. These people were astonished at His teaching and His words. They could not explain His greatness. They referred to Him as they knew Him as a carpenter, the son of Mary along with his brothers and sisters. Unable to explain Him, they took offense or were scandalized by Him. A prophet is without honor among His own people.

That was then, this is now. What sort of reception does Jesus receive today? Those who can’t figure Jesus out, who are unable to get the explanation they want take offense of Jesus and His followers. It was a sad day for the people of Nazareth; it remains a sad day whenever someone rejects the Savior and His message of grace.

1. The Source of the scandal, of course is sin.
A. The result of our own pride: we can not take credit for Jesus’ gifts.
B. Our self-centered desires: we demand that God conform to our expectations of Him.
C. How often have we heard statements such as “I would believe in a god who…” I would not choose a god who is not damming or judgmental”?

The best way to describe the people’s reaction of Jesus’ words Mark uses the word “astonished”. It wasn’t that these folks were amazed, one way or the other. There was a spontaneous mixture of emotions. Not purely positive but not necessarily negative either. They were, astonished. But then they got to thinking. Who is this? Where did He get this knowledge? What kind of wisdom is given to this one? They were filled with “surprised consternation”. They did not know what to make of Him. They had known Jesus their entire life. They could not accept Jesus doing and saying these things in His own right. Knowing that they could not take credit of the success of this native son, they would not even consider God as the obvious source. Unbelief, suspicion, pride, and arrogance are all taking up room in this house of prayer in Nazareth.

2. The Object of this scandal: the marvelous commonness of God’s gracious ways in which He is found.
A. Jesus Christ, the carpenter, the son of Mary.
B. His choices of visitation:
1. Bethlehem to town of his birth
2. Nazareth the place he was raised, where everyone knew Him.
3. For us today: “the Four W’s”
a. Word
b. Water
c. Wafer
d. Wine
C. His choice of you and me, our witnessing, our living in the community, “prophets in our own country.”

3. The Effects of this scandal: amazement leading to:
A. Rejection of grace resulting in judgment.
B. Faith in and wonder at the mystery of this man Jesus of Nazareth and of His cross (INRI), resulting in your salvation.

Have courage then to proclaim the undiluted scandal of the uncommonly common God-man Jesus Christ, the source of salvation, faith, and continued blessings.

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