Scripture: Isaiah 61:1-4; Luke 4:1-30 and 5:1-11; 2 Timothy 2:1-9
McLaren walks through these passages highlighting how Jesus stood against temptations that often cause us to trip, and entered into his ministry empowered by the Holy Spirit demonstrated in healing miracles and deliverances.
My favorite aspect of McLaren’s discussion centered around Jesus’ visit to Nazareth. McLaren observes that Jesus had said, “‘Today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ And then wonders what else Jesus might have said. He could have said, ‘Someday this Scripture will be fulfilled,’ and “everyone would have felt it was a good, comforting sermon. He could have said, ‘This Scripture is already fulfilled in some ways and not yet in others.’ And again, that would have been interesting and acceptable.” But either of those, observed McLaren “would postpone until the future any need for real change in his hearer’s lives.” For what Jesus said required radical rethinking and radical adjustment. (McLaren, p 93).
What I love about his inquiry is that it takes us into the possible thinking of those people in Nazareth and helps us understand that when Jesus went on to illustrate that such a present-day fulfillment would mean a gospel that reaches everyone not just those like us, He was really stepping on toes.
This speaks to us today, still, for in many ways, with all our talk we still are not very open to those unlike us, who dress, look, act, think, walk differently. It is easier to say we are open to people being with us and walking with us, than it is to actually live that out. In Jesus’ hometown the crowd of people who knew him and loved him from when he was a kid, and had seen him grow up, went quickly from a congregation of well-wishers to a mob who sought to kill him.
As people who are called to follow Jesus, we can be assured that people will treat us similarly at times. They will not hear us, they will refuse the gospel we represent, they will want to throw us off the proverbial cliff because we bring a message that does not fit with their lives.
Along this line, McLaren asked this in the question section: “How do you respond to the idea that you can be captivated by the expectations of your loyal fans and intimidated by the threats of your hostile critics?”
Great question. How might you respond?
Both statements can be true, obviously. And what it is about the voices of retractors, those who are critical, that make them stick more than the positive affirmations? Negatives can hit a deeper place and we can then begin to believe them. Like a friend told me this morning at the pool -- “When I get into a pit, those negative thoughts become all the truer, although they are still lies. And the pit is harder to get out of.”
But Jesus didn’t seem to take the negative words in at all. It was as if he was impervious to the voices of the critics. He didn’t let their opinions take anything from him, nor exert control over him. He had recently come from the wilderness and the testing and was full of the Holy Spirit, all of which sustained him and made it so he could simply “pass through the crowd” this mob intent on killing him.
This week, write the word “disciple” or “apprentice” in a prominent place to remind yourself of Jesus’ invitation to you to follow moment by moment throughout your week, even in the face of adversity.