Sermon for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost February 3, 2019
Text: Luke 4:20-32 ILCW Series C 19:2108
Theme: God Wants You to See More.
(Worship Intro: How perceptive are you? Do you always see what’s really there or do you see things the way you want to see them?
In your bulletin this morning is a picture. What do you see in it? How many see an elderly lady? How many see a young woman? Look at what appears to be a “hole” in the middle of the picture, under the mass of black hair. If you are looking for the elderly lady, that is her left eye and her rather large nose is just under it. She’s looking straight ahead and down. If you are looking for the young lady, that “hole” is her left ear, and right below it is the outline of her left jaw. She’s looking to her right. Do you see both? You probably saw one or the other first and needed a paradigm shift to see both.
Sometimes we see what we’ve been conditioned to see, or we see only that which we want to see. Keep that in mind for our Gospel Lesson and sermon today. What do you see in Jesus? God wants people to see more than they have been conditioned or want to see.)
I. Not just a hometown boy…
We grew up with Jesus. We knew Him as Joseph’s son, a carpenter boy, raised in lowly surroundings just like we. His education came from our local synagogue, where all the boys went. He was one of us, a hometown boy. In fact, his mother, brothers, and sisters were in the synagogue with us. But I never saw in Him before what I saw, or maybe I should say heard the day He taught us.
Oh, you should have heard Him. As we worshiped, He stood up to read. The attendant handed Him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. All eyes fastened on Him when He read, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
As He began to teach, His words were full of God’s grace. One could not help but tell the difference between Him and our other rabbis. He taught like one with spiritual insight and heavenly authority. It was marvelous! I never understood until that day what those words from Isaiah were about. They were words of a God-sent messenger coming to release us from the hold that sin, death, and the devil had – words of mercy and the kindness of God towards sinners.
When Jesus spoke, it was noticeable. He spoke to my heart; He spoke to my soul; He spoke to what bothered me most – my broken relationship with God. I felt like a prisoner to sin. I felt like a captive to the devil. I felt blind to the things God wanted me to be. I felt separated from Him, sinking into a dark hole.
But when Jesus preached good news of release, when He proclaimed freedom from oppression, when He promised recovery of sight, a light dawned within me. I began to see that God wanted us to see more. He wasn’t talking about political or social freedoms. He was freeing our hearts and souls from the ravages of sin, death, and the devil. He was accomplishing it through Jesus for Jesus made it clear by saying, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
When I heard those words, I felt like a great burden was lifted from my shoulders. God’s grace poured into my life. Jesus was the Christ for whom I longed. My paradigm had shifted. What I never saw before and what the rabbis never conditioned me to see suddenly appeared before me. I saw things that God graciously wants us to see and we prevent ourselves from seeing. This was not just our hometown boy. Jesus is more, so much more!
The Savior had arrived! I looked around me expecting to see the same joy and excitement that I felt. For a minute I saw it. People spoke well of Him and were impressed by the words of grace that came from His lips. But then I heard words of perplexity behind me. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son, a carpenter boy? Just a hometown boy like we are? Show us; prove that it’s true. Do a miracle like we’ve heard you do in other places.” And they wouldn’t believe because they refused to see more than what they wanted to see.
I hear that there are some people in your day who also only want to see and hear from Jesus what they want. “Oh, He’s a good teacher,” they say. “He shows us a fine example of a man.” But to see Him as Savior, the way by which we come to God through His suffering and death, that’s something many people don’t want to see.
And then we can begin to question faith too, not because God has not given us enough testimony, but because we let skeptics’ words play around in our minds. We listen to grumblers demanding proof or wanting things done their way instead of listening to God who needs to show no proof yet in grace reveals His love and mercy in our lives.
That is not the way that faith works. Jesus doesn’t do mighty acts and then I believe. I believe the testimony of God about Jesus and then see the power of God at work. Jesus is not just a hometown boy. He is that; He’s human like we are. But He’s also so much more. God graciously wants us to see it.
(II. But God’s own Son sent for us.)
Suppose that Jesus were just a hometown boy, suppose that He were just Joseph’s son. What good would that do us? The Scriptures say no man can redeem the life of another. With man such things are impossible. But with God it’s possible.
No, this is not just a hometown boy; this is God’s own Son. His words of grace reveal it. So why is it that the people around me did not get it? Why don’t people see Jesus for whom He is?
Because He’s not what they want. Remember, people tend to see things the way they want to see them or the way they’ve been conditioned to see them rather than the way God graciously wants us to see through His Word. Does that mean that when it comes to Jesus, they don’t want Him as the Savior? It’s exactly what it means.
Human pride is such that it thinks it can save itself. It refuses to humble itself before God and say like the psalmist, “I am a worm and not a man” (Ps.22:6). Surely, if the holy Son of God said that about Himself when He was enduring our sin on the cross, we poor sinners, who committed the crimes against God, should. We must admit that our lives have fallen short of the holy God’s demands.
But men in their pride don’t want to admit it. They don’t like to admit the truth about themselves. How many times haven’t people made excuses when they’ve done something wrong rather than admit it and say, “Lord, I have sinned”? Human pride gets in the way. And it prevents God from helping us through the Savior. We must admit the error of our ways and turn to the solution that God gives, His own Son, not just Joseph’s son, but His Son sent for us – sent for all.
There’s another place where the pride of my fellow Nazarenes got in the way. We had been conditioned to think that God cared only for us, that only Jews meant something to God. Just us!
Jesus tried to show them the error of such thinking and coax them to faith in Him when He said, “There were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet, Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath.” (1 Kgs.17).
A similar thing happened with Elisha. God sent him outside of Israel to Naaman. Naaman and the widow were not Jews. Yet, in the end, they believed when God’s chosen people rejected Him.
When my fellow townsmen heard that, they reacted violently to Jesus. They tried to kill Him as though He had spoken blasphemy. But besides being man, He is God who speaks truth. He simply walked away from them. They couldn’t touch Him. Now, that was evidence too. Yet, they refused to believe. If people refuse to believe, He’ll offer His grace to others. Sadly, for Nazareth, Jesus moved on to others who received Him as God’s own Son.
Like the Bible says, “The true light that gives light to everyone (had) come into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who receive him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision, or a husband’s will, but born of God” (Jn.1:9-12).
Born of God, having life! I’m just glad that He shifted my paradigm and opened my eyes to see my Savior. I want others to see Him too, and I won’t stop telling them, even as Jesus didn’t.
Sometimes people need paradigm shifts with Jesus. God graciously wants us to see more. He’s not just a hometown boy from Nazareth. He’s God’s own Son sent for us. God grant us eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to rejoice and mouths to witness for the year of God’s favor is upon us in Christ; for Jesus’ sake. Amen.