Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 4
Thesis: Hostility corrupts reality no matter how much the "humble" wish for peace.
Introduction: In our studies so far we have majored on the fact that Luke deliberately introduced the ministry of Jesus in glowing terms of "acceptance" and then immediately turned around and opened the can of "Nazarene" worms. Jesus was operating in the power of the Spirit and was very well received in the synagogues of Galilee, but when He came to the synagogue of Nazareth, the result was the first recorded attempt by others to kill Him because of His teaching.
Because this contrast is what it is, we have followed Luke's lead and attempted to understand what he wanted Theophilus to know. It seems pretty obvious that he wanted him to know that the folks in Nazareth had pretty much had it with Jesus and that the feelings were mutual. There is no way that the facts of this story can be understood properly if we leave out the undercurrents of deep hostility that had to have been present (a crowd cannot get to murderous hostility without a background). That means that Luke wanted Theophilus to understand from the get-go that his "Jesus" is all about a specific kind of "Life" that has no root in the proud hostility of "fake Nazarenes"...synagogue attenders, Sabbath observers, pious frauds.
The question is "Why?". Why did Luke want to "taint" Theophilus' "understanding" of Jesus with this negative reality at the get-go? What is it about Luke's Jesus that requires that we go into our study of His ministry with the understanding that the folks "back home" would kill Him if they could? I think that at least part of the answer is revealed by Luke's focus on Jesus' "reading". This morning I wish to push this issue of Jesus' "reading" to see what it yields.
August 20, 2006
- I. Those "Insignificant" Little Details.
- A. Jesus "stood up" to read and "sat down" when He was finished and the eyes of all were fixed on Him because of it.
- B. The "reading" was out of the scroll of Isaiah that another had chosen.
- C. Isaiah was a "prophet".
- D. Jesus "opened" the scroll.
- E. Jesus looked until he "found" the text He intended to read.
- II. The Point of the "Little Details".
- A. Each of them has its own "little" point (some of which we may see as we think together).
- B. But, together, they make a "larger" point: Luke is intent upon making sure that he has Theophilus' attention in the same way Jesus had the Nazarenes' attention.
- 1. This attention is to have at least this in its peripheral vision: there are few issues that are more crucial than the attitude one takes toward the words of God.
- 2. That being established, there is another issue that is even more crucial: why is the attitude what it is?
- III. The Focus Upon "Reading".
- A. In one sense, this is not a big issue in Luke (he only refers to it three times). [But Luke is intense about getting everything exactly right if his introduction means anything in 1:1-4.]
- B. But, it does seem to serve as a point of focus.
- 1. In this text, the "reading" was one of the most hopeful texts to be found in Isaiah, but it results in murderous rage.
- 2. In the second of Luke's references to "reading" (6:3) Jesus confronts the use of religion to escape the "Nazarene syndrome" with a fairly sarcastic question ("...have you not even read...?).
- 3. In the third and final of Luke's references to "reading" (10:26) Jesus again confronts the use of religion -- in this case coupled with intellectualism -- to escape the "Nazarene syndrome" with a brick wall ("...do this and you will live...").
- C. It seems inescapable to me that if we see what Luke is recording about the "reading" of the Scripture, it is this: even though it is the lifeline from God to men, there is something that can turn it into an inescapable bondage...chains so heavy and so strong that there is no hope of deliverance.
- 1. What is that thing?
- 2. Have we not already seen it?
- a. What was the undercurrent in the synagogue in Nazareth?
- 1) Was it not "rage" at being treated as a "Nazarene"?
- 2) Was it not "deep hostility" toward anyone who would dare to say that the reputation of Nazareth was well earned?
- b. What was driving that undercurrent?
- 1) Was it not significantly uncomfortable truth?
- 2) Was it not simply, in one word, pride?
- a) The pride of unwillingness to acknowledge personal depravity...
- b) The pride of unwillingness to accept personal responsibility for personal depravity...
- c) The pride of willingness to shake one's fist at heaven... [Illustration: We have heard this week that a man many of us know will probably never have feeling below his chest again. He will never walk, nor do any of the multitude of things he used to do without thought. I want you to do something: put yourself in his situation and answer this question -- what do you think about God now?]
- IV. Luke's Challenge.
- A. Just how do we read the Scriptures?
- B. Just where does the scoffing boredom toward the Bible come from?
- C. How are we going to handle the anger that boils up inside of us when we are confronted with our pride?