Saturday, February 8, 2014

of onions and scripture

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for Today: Luke 3:1-22
mark this: Luke 3:1-2
Nothing can stick in your mind better than a good metaphor.
We know that from experience- from songs or poetry or even commercials.
I think that's part of the reason that Jesus spoke in parables. It's part of the reason why we still talk about mustard seeds, and rocky soil, and lost sheep.
In the first movie of the popular Shrek series, the following exchange occurs between the ogre Shrek and his talking Donkey (pictured above).
Shrek: For your information, there's a lot more to ogres than people think.
Donkey: Example?
Shrek: Example... uh... ogres are like onions![holds up an onion, which Donkey sniffs]
Donkey: They stink?
Shrek: Yes... No!
Donkey: Oh, they make you cry?
Shrek: No!
Donkey: Oh, you leave 'em out in the sun, they get all brown, start sprouting little white hairs...
Shrek: [peels an onion] NO! Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers. [walks off]
Ogres are not the only things that have layers. In fact, may I be so bold as to declare that the Word of God is like an onion. (It certainly can make you cry.) There is much more to it that at first glance or reading. It's the only kind of onion that gets bigger and deeper as you peel it back. In today's passage, we see this first hand.
This first layer Luke gives us is the facts and details. The chapter starts off with a list of names- the "Who's Who" of Palestine around 29 AD. We've got an emperor, a governor, three tetrarchs, and two high priests. While these names may not mean much to you and me, we are grateful that the Word of God has it's facts straight. We know from earlier on, Luke has claimed to "have carefully investigated everything from the beginning(1)." Praise God that he really did!
The Gospels and the rest of the Bible can stand up to whatever questions or scrutiny that people may have. We can be confident that what we have is both truth and true. We know from outside sources that these people and places and titles are accurate historically. If you so desired, you could look up information regarding any of them. So go ahead, and utilize multiple tools and disciplines to better understand the Word- (i.e. history, geography, archaeology, linguistics etc.). There are multiple layers on these items alone.
But in the end of verse two, we see another layer emerging. The verse ends with the simple and yet profound statement: "The word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert."
God bypassed the most powerful political man on earth ruling in Rome, He skipped by the rulers who were dominating God’s chosen people politically or religiously. Instead, He brought His message through a rather eccentric man whose choices with clothes and food and appearance and especially words would have made all of us very uncomfortable.
This deeper layer confirms to us that God’s ways are not man’s ways. He chose an unlikely time an unlikely place, and an unlikely person to be the forerunner to the Messiah! I guess God really does "save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty (2)."
Everyone else on this list is a footnote in history, but we are still talking about John- his legacy lives on. His story is a reminder to all of us not to limit God to mere human conventions, nor think that any one of us cannot be used by God.
And that's just the first few layers, so keep digging!
(1) Luke 1:3
(2) Psalm 18:27

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