Friday, March 21, 2014

always greater than

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for Today: Luke 11:14-36
mark this: Luke 11:31 & 32
...behold, something greater than Solomon is here....
...something greater than Jonah is here.
Jesus Christ is greater than anything we can know or think or imagine. But since everything we know as humans is in comparison to something else, we're given, thankfully, a couple of different units of measurement in today's reading. Luke writes about how Jesus wisely deals with a demanding crowd by giving them a lesson. They want a miraculous sign, instead they get two examples.
The first is Solomon. Why Solomon?
The Jewish mind would be astonished by that statement.
Solomon’s reign was by far the high point of Israel- the time of the most wealth, the best Temple, the most security, the greatest international power, influence, and boundaries.
For every Jew- the reign of Solomon were the glory days of Israel.
And here comes this homeless teacher from Nazareth of all places, declaring that He is greater than Solomon.
Yet that is the truth. From His humble entrance into our world, where He's worshiped and given kingly gifts, to the mocking sign hung on His cross, that cruelly, but accurately, describes Him as the "King of the Jews" to the words written on His robe at His return- all this testifies to His Royalty(1).
The second is Jonah. Why Jonah?
For a while, this brought me some confusion. Jonah only has 4 total chapters in the whole Bible. He was perhaps the worst prophet in history when it comes to attitude. Clearly there were better "prophet of the year" candidates like Elijah, Isaiah, or Jeremiah.
But Christ is brilliant to use Jonah in comparison. Certainly, with the imagery of 3 days Jonah is a foreshadow of the Resurrection, but there is another reason. When Jonah reluctantly came to Nineveh, He didn’t come with wonders and signs. He didn’t give great sermons. He said 5 words in Hebrew which translates as "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned (2)."
Jonah needed no sign- He was the sign Himself. His life, how God had mercy upon him and spared Him from death was the message. Jesus, in the same way, is the sign Himself. His life, His character, His words are much greater than any miracle He performed! Jesus is not merely another prophet in the long line of history, He is our great and final revelation of GOD (3). He does just give a message- He is the Message!
Christ is always greater than whatever human comparison we can muster; that is not up for debate. The questions then become this: Is Jesus Christ my Prophet? Is Jesus Christ my King? Will you be like the Ninevites and repent or will you remain in your sins? Will you be like the Queen of Sheba and learn at the feet of the King, or will you remain in your ignorant pride? The choice is yours.
(1) Matthew 2, John 19:19, Revelation 19:16
(2) Jonah 3:4
(3) see Hebrews 1:1-3

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