1 Corinthians 13:1-14
Peace be with you!
There are certain days that are supposed to be all about you – your birthday, your wedding day, your graduation day, and so on. These are the days when people are supposed to celebrate what you have achieved and new beginnings. What happens when other individuals take over the spot light?
The Jews had their ideas of what the Messiah would do and how he would speak. The Jews were looking for a Messiah who would free them from the Roman Empire and would take them back to the Promise Land. The Jews thought Jesus would lead them into the “Promise Land” where they would be free of the Roman Empire.
Jesus is in his hometown, Nazareth, where he just taught in the synagogue from the book of Isaiah. We discussed last week how Jesus reads the job description of the Messiah: to release captives, to give the blind sight, and to set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18b). The Jews do not agree with this job description.
Jesus goes on to explain how Elijah was not sent for everyone but a few chosen people. God sent Elijah to widow at Zarephath in Sidon and a leper named Naaman the Syrian who he helped through difficult times (Luke 4:26-27). There was a select few who Elijah was lead by God the Father to help and heal. This exclamation outraged the Jews who were listening, and they plotted against Jesus to kill him (Luke 4:28-29). How could Jesus speak out against Elijah? Elijah is our prophet who the Lord sent to us to save us.
Jesus escapes the angry crowd (Luke 4:30) by going on his way. However, Jesus chose to lift up the widow and the leper to tell the people God sent him into the world for the outsiders – the ones who are not welcomed in town and live on the outskirts. Jesus is not in the world who have faith in the Lord – he is but his ministry is for more people than God’s chosen people. Jesus comes into the world for the broken hearted – the ones left behind.
When Jesus preaches this message, the Jews, his neighbors, reject his teaching. His neighbors had high hopes for Jesus as a preacher, but this message goes against everything they believe. The Jews are God’s chosen people. In their mind, no way is God opening his arms to the non-Jews, the Gentiles, the Samaritans, and the other outsiders. The Lord would never want impure people mixed with his chosen ones. The Jews cannot accept Jesus’ teachings about welcoming the stranger.
Yet this does not stop Jesus from going into the world and preaching the good news: the stranger is welcome in the Kingdom of God. His hometown neighbors may not be able to accept the good news, but the world will hear it and the stranger will be invited. Jesus will go out into the world and have conversations with the Samaritan woman, the Gentiles, the blind, the lepers, the crippled, the hungry, the poor, the prostitutes, and so on, because they are welcomed into the Kingdom of God.
The good news is for us today as much as it was for the people two thousand years ago. We, the Gentiles, are welcomed into the Kingdom of God. By “we”, I mean the sinners, the unbelievers, the poor, the lost, the blind, the crippled, the drug addicts, the strippers, the bullies, the confused, and so on. We are all welcomed into the Kingdom of God, not because we have earned it by any means but because God loves us so much that he wants to be in a relationship with each one of us.
At different times in my life, people have asked me, “How can you hang out with that person?” The reason is simple: Jesus did and would hang with those people. I may not be the most comfortable around some people, but Jesus calls me to share the good news with all people, not just those like myself.
A few months ago I talked about my friend, Geoff, with tattoos covering his whole body. When I first met him, I did not want my mom to meet Geoff because of his colorful language and different views of the world. Given the chance now, I would be happy to introduce Geoff to my mom, because he is a child of God who Jesus would not ignore. Why should I ignore him or hide him from my world? The world is filled with individuals who make us uncomfortable, but Jesus calls us to share the good news with anyone who is willing to listen because it is for everyone.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for exceeding the Jews’ expectations by inviting us, the Gentiles, into your kingdom. Help us to understand that the good news is not for a select few but for all people. Show us the way to continue to invite the stranger into a relationship with you and into your kingdom. Push us out of our comfort zone, so we can share the good news with all people. Thank you for sharing the good news with us. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. What do you expect to be all about you?
2. What expectations do you have about the Messiah?
3. CHALLENGE: Talk to someone who makes you a little uncomfortable. What are your expectations of the conversation? What really happened?