Friday, January 30, 2009

Luke 3,4 The True Son

The story so far …
God created Adam and Eve to be his true children, to live in fellowship with him and act as his regent on earth. They were designed to live with responsibility and creativity and fellowship – like the One who made them. But man rebelled against that vocation, choosing to act independently of God, wanting to be god.

But God didn’t give up. He chose one man, Abraham, one family, one people to fulfill the vocation that He had given mankind. They were to act as His regents, live as his people and through them, God promised, all peoples would be restored as well. How did Israel respond to that calling? You can read the story in Psalm 78.
They forgot God’s covenant and refused to live by his law (Ps. 78:10)
They forgot what He had done (78:11)
They willfully put God to the test by “demanding the food they craved” ( v18)
They “spoke against” God, asking: “Can God spread a table in the desert? He provided us water, but can he also give us food??” (v 19)
They did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance. (v22)
They were disloyal and faithless, and “aroused his jealousy with their idols”; i.e. they put other things above God. (uh oh.)
Their hearts were not loyal to God, their spirits were not faithful to Him. They decided it would be better to be back in Egypt with their meat pots without God, than out in the desert and starving with God. (its all about the food…) (Ps 78:8)
They tested him at Masseh (means testing) When things got difficult, in spite of all He had done, they asked “Is the Lord with us or not?” (Ex. 17:7)

God still doesn’t give up though! Psalm 78 ends with God’s choice of David – one faithful shepherd “with integrity of heart”. God’s good rule on earth would one day come – through one like David who would be faithful to God. In Luke 3, John the Baptist is paving the way for this One … Jesus comes to be baptized - and a voice from heaven declared “this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus is taking on the vocation of being the true human being, the true Son.

But he must first demonstrate that he is faithful to God – a true son and not a rebel. So, like Israel, he is tested in the desert. And in contrast to Adam, in contrast to Israel, he refuses to provide for his own needs, refuses to doubt God’s faithfulness, refuses to take the place of God. He stays loyal to God and to His calling to be God’s true Son.

Then, immediately, in Nazareth – he announces His vocation as the Son, begins to make the point that this vocation is not only towards the nation of Israel but to the nations of the world, and then begins to exercise his vocation, bringing good news to the poor, freeing the captives, bringing sight to the blind. In the presence of the true Son of God, the kingdom – the rule of God through His anointed representative – has arrived!

Here is what I realized as I listened to the Spirit speaking to me through this text: I, like Israel, am prone to forget what God has done, to want most whatever it is I think will give me life, to be loyal to me and not to God. (I feel sad about that: I think that it would hurt God’s feelings to be distrusted.) But really this story is not about me. There is one who was loyal to his Father above himself, who was the true son, the true human being, and his loyalty brings the benefits of God’s rule to me too.

And I am so glad God is not a quitter.

1 comment:

Christy said...

I'm not certain if I'm only supposed to comment on 3 and 4 here. This comment is more recent in what we are reading now, and requires a bit of background info...

Nesrine, a young Tunisian girl in university, came to our house feeling a bit depressed to see my Tunisian roommate, Awatef. There are few believers in the country, and the handful of Christian university students decided to have a student gathering this past year. She was hoping to teach some discipleship materials she has received, and put so much effort into the weekly gathering, her own studies really suffered. She did everything to plan the time well, and included small video clips to make it interesting. Yet, by the end of the fall semester, almost no one came consistently, and she feels frustrated that it didn’t work out. She failed in ministry and failed in school. It costs so much to be a believer in an all Muslim country, so why didn’t God answer her prayers? Awatef felt burdened by Nesrine’s profound disappointment and demotivation and wanted me to help. We went to a separate room for some privacy, and I invited her to join me in my devotion for the day, which was to be Luke 5. I had her read the first eleven verses only, then asked Nesrine to close her eyes and imagine the scene and to interact with Jesus in it through prayer. Awatef read the passage from the Arabic, then read it for me in English, so I would be doing the same thing.

Nesrine felt encouraged reading how the disciples toiled and yet took no fish, but that Jesus entered in and the fish were abundant. She also felt encouraged by one girl in the group who was faithful and has potential and thinks how that girl might become a fisher of men.

As for me, I felt struck how Peter was aware of his sinfulness and asked the Lord to depart from him. Jesus didn’t respond directly to Peter in what he said, but rather told him he would be a fisher of men. I feel so incurably sinful and filled with mixed motives, and yet somehow still useful as a fisher of men.