Sunday, December 11, 2016

He is kind with the sort of kindness that shines out, but is resolute, not fooled. -Mary Oliver

Put your trust in the LORD and do good. He will make your righteousness as clear as the light and your just dealing as the noonday. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him. Psalm 37:3-7

Now it happened that one day while he was teaching the people in the Temple and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the scribes came up, together with the elders, and spoke to him. ‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘what authority have you for acting like this? Luke 20:1-2

Because I am sort of an odd person, I have to admit that I am totally clueless about the latest binge show watching and certainly have no idea about the latest actors and media trends. It cuts a lot of conversations short with my eighth grade kiddos. Really, I should do something about my severe lack of cultural literacy. However, really last night I was rereading Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes just before curling off to bed. And this chapter was pretty complicated, addressing the inauguration of Jesus’ ministry, mostly because so many things can be translated several different ways. And taken in the context of the sort of theological training Jesus had, at the local haberim, a lay movement that had sprung up in the villages of the Holy Land around this time. The word means “the friends” and they joined nightly in discussion of the Torah and applying its laws to their day.

And Jesus knew exactly what he was doing, as he edited Isaiah 61, reading it aloud to the congregation, leaving out all the bits of vengeance on the Gentiles. Jeremias points out that the words can be translated, “And all witnessed against him, and were amazed at the words of mercy that came out of his mouth, and they said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’”

And this is the good news that He preached, and continues to preach each day, until His return: to proclaim to the prisoners–freedom, and to the blind, recovery of sight, to send forth the oppressed–in freedom, and to proclaim year of the LORD’s favor.

Bailey sums up this gospel of Jesus as being radical in every sense from the expectations of the crowd. It is not about material blessing, but rather it is a call to action, as exemplified by the faith of a Gentile woman and man, the hungry Sidonese widow and Naaman, the Syrian commander-in-chief. The faith exhibited here involves intellectual assent, trust and obedience.

And it’s all about the simple little chorus I learned as a child: Trust and obey, for there is no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.