Monthly Archives: September 2009

Luke 4:22-28 and the Angry Mob

In Luke 4:16 and following there is a curious and rapid shift in the direction of the narrative.

Jesus goes into the synagogue in Nazareth and reads from Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me
because he anointed me to preach good news to the poor;
he has sent me to proclaim freedom for the captive,
and recovery of sight for the blind,
and to send away in freedom those who are broken,
and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

After which, Jesus said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

The response of those in the synagogue was bewilderment. They were amazed at his words and said to each other, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”

Jesus replied to their amazement with a surprising chastisement. He said, “Certainly you will speak to me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself. Whatever we heard that happened in Capernaum, do also here in your hometown.'”

Then he went on to tell about how prophets like Elijah and Elisha performed miracles for those outside of Israel (or at least outside of the people of Israel) because the people of Israel lacked faith. He said this to underscore his point that “no prophet is welcome in his hometown” (Lk 4:24).

Now here the story takes a quick twist. After Jesus’ first words, everyone in the synagogue was amazed by him. Now after his second discourse, they became enraged. They marched him off to a cliff because they wanted to kill him by throwing him off of it. (And somehow Jesus was able to walk through them, leaving unharmed.)

So, why the sudden change in attitude? Jesus had just claimed that he was a prophet who had come to fulfill the passage he read from Isaiah. The proverb he quoted was a rebuke for their lack of faith, and, in speaking of Elijah and Elisha, he rebuked them further, implying that they are no better than their forefathers who lacked faith in God’s prophets of long ago.

Most ironically, showing a glimmer of Luke’s humour and flare, the narrative immediately follows Jesus to Capernaum where he performs miracles of healing and casting out of demons. Faith is the key.

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Textkit – Greek and Latin

This is a great resource I came across lately. I’m sure it’s not new to some of you, but if it is, do check it out! There are all sorts of downloadable resources for learning Greek and Latin. Most significant, in my opinion, are the composition workbooks. These workbooks, such as North and Hillard’s and Sidgwick’s, have been in use for over 100 years, going back to a time when kids learned Greek and Latin in elementary school. Where’s a Delorian when you need one?! I’ve taken plenty of Greek classes while at Briercrest College, but I still find my recall of vocabulary and verb forms to be a touch dodgey. I figure that learning to write, instead of just to read, Greek will help it all along. Do check out Textkit. It’s a candy store for nerdy academic kids!

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Matthew 6:8, “your Father knows before you ask him”

In Matthew 6, Jesus speaks a lot on prayer: method, appropriate time and place, and even gives us an example of how we should pray. I was struck today by verse 8. Jesus said, “[7]And when praying, do not babble on like the heathen, for they think that by means of their many words they will be heard. [8] Therefore, do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

The fact that the Father knows what we need before we ask is very reassuring. I find it interesting that Jesus doesn’t say, “Don’t bother praying, because the Father already knows what you need.” The exhortation is, “Don’t babble on and on . . . for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

It’s all about humility, isn’t it? Earlier in Matt 6 Jesus warns us not to blow the trumpet to announce our charitable acts. And we’re to pray in secret with the door closed behind us rather than shouting out in the street. Jesus is communicating how prayer is to function. It’s not a show, it’s an enactment of humility before the Father. Of course he doesn’t need to be told what we need to live; he made life afterall. We are to do good deeds, but not for our own glorification. The Father sees what goes on in secret, and he rewards those who do righteous things when there is no one to watch. Those who ‘peacock’ about have attention as their only reward.

This seems to be really a call for honest intent. The idea is to be righteous in the sight of God rather than super-duper in the sight of men. Perhaps a little bit like marriage versus dating. There is so much pressure to be doing the right things and saying the right things and being the right things when two people are getting to know one another. But once that superficiality is stripped away, and a husband and wife can simply go about living life together, their efforts together are real and not for show. The result is a rich interaction in which love is the point and service is the means.

Anyway, I was greatly impressed (once again) by Matthew 6:8, and am deeply grateful to have been provided life by a God who knows how to take care of me, and who is interested in the way I live the life he has placed in me.

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