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The Day They Almost Killed Preacher Jesus!

January 27, 2013

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Third Sunday after the Epiphany                                                     Trinity Lutheran Church

27 January 2013                                                                                                Murdock, NE


+ Jesu Juva +


St. Luke 4:16-30


Did you hear the Preacher today?  He read from Isaiah the prophet!  The prophecy of the “year of the Lord’s favor!”  The Messianic time when salvation would be proclaimed full throttle!  No holds barred!  Liberation from sin and all its consequences! 


The Preacher?  Jesus.  Preaching in the “power of the Spirit.”  Yes, a Holy Spirit-filled Preacher this Jesus is!  Good grief!  All of you who lust for the Holy Spirit to be at work and manifesting Himself well … look no further!  The Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, is blowing full bore through the preaching of the Nazarene:  Pastor-Preacher Jesus!


So I ask again?  Did you hear what the Preacher said?  Quite an epiphany!  Quite a revelation!  Let me remind you.  He said and I quote:  “Today this prophecy of the year of the Lord’s favor – i.e. the day of salvation for sinners — is fulfilled right now in your hearing!  Salvation is right here!  I’m it!  I am the year of the Lord’s favor!  I’m the Savior!” 


Are you amazed at this?  Isn’t this Joseph’s little boy all grown up?  Quite audacious for the hometown kid who apprenticed as a carpenter, who made many of our Lazy Boys, coffee tables, salad bowls, and night stands, to claim to be the Messiah!  The Savior of the world!  Pretty conceited wouldn’t you say?  He’s way too big for His theological britches, right? 


“Today this prophecy is fulfilled in your hearing!”  Is He serious?  Or is He just blowing smoke? He can’t really be blowing … the Holy Spirit, can He?  Not with a sermon like that!    


Perhaps it’s time we put Him to the test.  Take Him down a few notches and send Him back to the carpenter’s shop pounding nails and sweeping saw up sawdust!  That’s where He belongs!  Wouldn’t you agree?  Of course! 


“So Jesus!  Enough of the preaching!  Anybody can be a blow hard like that!  We’ve had plenty of those in First Congregation in Nazareth!  How about a whiz-bang sign like you had last week at the wedding bash in Capernaum!  Another zinger miracle!  Why don’t you turn all our Nazareth water into wine too!  Let it flow from our faucets! Gush from our garden hoses!  Explode from our wells!  And no cheap Mogen David either!  Only the finest!  Like the wine drunk at Caesar’s Rome!  We’ll settle for nothing less! While you’re at it, throw in a bunch of gratuitous healings and raise a few corpses from the dead free of charge!  Like your father Joseph!  Where was all your Year of the Lord’s Messiah-ship when he died?”     


“Yes, that’s the ticket! Jesus you’re a nice young man and all but the sermon is way over the top!  Who do you think you are?  Oh, yes, we heard you!  The Messiah!  Right! Our ears are bleeding with that nonsense!  We’re going to put that to the test right now!  We’re calling your bluff!  Let’s see what you’ve got! Show us your hand! If you’re truly the Messiah – the-Year-of-the-Lord’s-Favor –Messiah, then put on a magical mystery miracle show!  Blow us away with miraculous sign after sign after sign!  Well, how about it?  Get on with it!  You talk a good talk!  But now it’s time to put your money where your mouth is!  What’s that?  You won’t?  We figured!  What are mumbling Jesus?  Physician heal yourself?  Something about the sign of Jonah?  Whatever!”   


The hometown congregation has no use for the homegrown-Preacher!  Familiarity bred contempt!  “He a son-of-a-… carpenter!  Year of the Lord’s favor?  OK! Like that’s going to happen with you!”     


As it was in the Old Testament so it is in the New.  God sent preacher after preacher to Israel.  Elijah and Elisha for example.  And Israel rejected them both!  Had no use for their preaching at all!  So too now with another Preacher!  The Pastor Jesus!  “I tell you the truth,” He proclaims, “no prophet including me is welcomed in his hometown!  Israel wouldn’t listen to God’s Word from Elijah and Elisha!  Israel refused to hear their sermons!  So God sent Elijah and Elisha to preach elsewhere!” 


“Elijah, in one of the oldest Phoenician coastal cities, Zarephath, pagan to the core, heathen central – home to the most fanatical of Baal worshippers – the Berkeley and San Francisco of the ancient world — the prophet Elijah had a congregation – OF TWO hearers of the Word!  A little widow woman and her son!”


“No one in Israel would listen to Elisha either!  Except the foreign, most hated, Syrian general Naaman who contracted the deadly disease of leprosy!  Elisha preached quite a sermon that day to the enemy:  ‘Go, wash seven times in Jordan River and you will be cleansed!’  And the non- Israelite soldier did as he was told!  He received the Word preached!  And Elisha’s sermon gave what it promised!  He was healed!”   


Brothers and sisters, Israel wouldn’t hear the Word preached to her.  So what did the Lord do?  He took it away from Israel and gave the preaching of His Word of salvation to others.  It’s the same with Jesus.  If Israel won’t receive Him or His preaching of promises of salvation in their hearing, then He’ll move on to others just as Elijah and Elisha did.  He’ll take the Gospel from Israel and give it to the Gentiles! 


Do you have any use for Jesus and His promise of salvation?  Does His pledge that He stands before you with the Lord’s favor bore the living daylights out of you?  Does His Word of forgiveness go in one ear and then out the other?  Are you that apathetic to the divine Word?    


If you had the choice between hearing the proclamation of the Lord’s salvation from Jesus every Sunday or doing something else, would you choose the something else every time?  You’d choose the something else?  Really?  Something else is always more important than hearing and receiving Christ’s forgiveness through His preached Word?  When push comes to shove, you’d take Jesus out of town, to the highest hill, throw Him down backward from the cliff, and if He survived heave the biggest and heaviest rocks on Him until He was graveyard dead?    


You say you wouldn’t do that?  Yes you would.  And you did!  He slipped out of your hands many times but you finally caught up with Him in Jerusalem.  You paid off a disciple to betray Him.  You resolutely demanded that Preacher Jesus be crucified!  That He be hung from the gallows because you couldn’t stand to hear another sermon from His lips!


Pilate tried to set Him free but you demanded that Barabbas the terrorist be set free!  When it looked like Pilate might let Jesus go, you threatened to pull off the mother of all community organizing riots!  Mob anarchy of the highest order!  So Pilate folded.  He caved and you got your way.  Had no use for Jesus then.  Have no use for Jesus now.  Just as well see Him dead!  The sooner the better!         


So don’t be surprised then when the Lord Jesus takes the authoritative preaching of the Holy Spirit-filled Gospel from you and your children and gives it to someone else!  To others who will receive it!  Others who will hold it sacred in their hearts and who will gladly hear and learn it! 


I warn you – with the utmost seriousness — blow off Jesus and His promises – and He will move on like a summer thunderstorm and He will rain down His salvation on those who crave it and receive it with great joy so that the Lord’s favor of forgiveness bears much fruit in their lives and in the world!  You cannot presume that the Word of the Gospel will always be preached here when you pay little or no attention to it. 


Now, brothers and sisters, instead of stubbornly insisting on throwing Jesus off the theological cliff, it is time for all of us in this congregation to beg Him to stay!  Like the Samaritans in John 4.  Like the Emmaus disciples in Luke 24.  Like St. Peter who said in John 6:68-69, “Lord to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” 


I beg you.  It is time to repent.  It is time to turn away from our sin of despising preaching and God’s Word.  It is time to hold it sacred – holy!  It is time to gladly hear and learn it.  And to believe it!  To believe that in Jesus the year of the Lord’s favor of forgiveness has come upon us and that He actually gives it in our ears and mouths!  God extends His favor to you in Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution and in the Lord’s Supper today.  And every Sunday!


It is true!  What He speaks He gives.  He says you are forgiven!  Therefore, you are forgiven!  Jesus died for you!  All your sin answered for!  Atoned for!  Today, the promise of salvation is fulfilled in your hearing!  What an epiphany!    


Let us pray: 


Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide,

for round us falls the even-tide.

O let Your Word, that saving light,

shine forth undimmed into the night.


In these last days of great distress

Grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness

That we keep pure till life is spent

Your holy Word and Sacrament.


Restrain, O Lord, the human pride

That seeks to thrust Your truth aside

Or with some man-made thoughts or things

Would dim the words Your Spirit sings.


Stay with us Lord and keep us true.

Preserve our faith our whole life through –

Your Word alone our heart’s defense,

the church’s glorious confidence.[1]


In the Name of Jesus. 

     [1]“Lord Jesus Christ, with Us Abide,” Lutheran Service Book #585:1-2, 5-6.

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