The Word for today: Luke 9:37-56
I don't get it!
All of us have been in that place where our best efforts to comprehend something fall short.
Maybe it was in calculus class.
Maybe it was trying to program a VCR. (Remember those?)
Maybe it was attempting to assemble some minor piece of furniture.
Maybe it was on an exam.
Each one of us has a unique set of items that we simply do not get, and anyone who tries to explain it better to us is wasting their time.
But there is one category where each one of us share a similar comprehension problem, and that category is the Son of God. After reading today's passage, I want you to put yourself in the sandals of one of the Twelve, say James, son of Zebedee. He, like the rest of the disciples, and the rest of us, had trouble "getting" what Jesus was saying and doing. But can you blame him?
First Jesus performs a great miracle, by feeding the 5000+, and the disciples get clean up duty(1).
Next Jesus confirms that He is indeed the Messiah of God, but He wants the disciples to keep totally mum on this subject(2).
Next Jesus describes not only His imminent sufferings and death, but also the need for all of His followers to likewise take up their cross as well (3).
Then Jesus reveals a portion of His glory to the three disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration, but orders that these disciples remain silent about what they witnessed (4).
Now in today's reading, Jesus rebukes his disciples on five separate occasions. They have it all wrong concerning A. demonic exorcism, B. the suffering of the Messiah, C. the true nature of greatness, D. their wrong headed exclusivity, and E. in their desire for supernatural revenge.
These guys were WAY off! I believe that the rebukes and harsh words of Jesus had to sting. They thought that they had Him all figured out, and yet Jesus says, to His closest friends, things such as "Let these words get past your thick skulls(5)" and "O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you and put up with you!?! (6)"
I don't know about you, but I would be confused as well. But the problem lies with me, not Him. Jesus Christ, by nature is both extremely comforting and unsettling at the exact same time. No one in history was every more kind and gentle towards sinners, no one in history ever spoke more ferocious words against sin. Grace and truth, truth and grace, dancing in perfect harmony, without dilution, confusion or commingling.
So as we encounter Jesus in the Gospels- I urge all of us not to water-down or take the sting out of His words and actions. May they awaken us like a thunderbolt, never allowing us to fall into the deadly malaise of thinking anything about Jesus is trite and old hat. Until we are following a Jesus who is continually confronting and reshaping and unsettling and renovating us, I doubt we are following Jesus at all. So go ahead and scratch your head, then lift your hands in praise to the only one we can never completely figure out.
(1) Luke 9:10-17
(2) Luke 9:18-20
(3) Luke 9:21-27
(4) Luke 9:28-36
(5) Luke 9:44 (Zach's Paraphrase)
(6) Luke 9:41