“Back to basics”
In today’s Gospel in Luke, Jesus gives us a sermon. Firstly he reads from the prophet Isaiah about the future coming of the Messiah then finishes with “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”. That’s it and while the audience were receptive to him, we know that later things change and the people then aren’t so sure.
Last night’s much needed rain reminded me of a situation in a rural community that was in the grip of drought. The area was doing it tough, so unbeknown to the community; the local hotelier started putting away a percentage away from profits to give back to those who had supported his business. When he had accumulated enough, he wrote a cheque for the same amount of money to each of the families that frequented his business. While initially grateful for such a gesture, once the details became apparent that all received the identical gift, arguments started because some thought they deserved more than others due to their time in the district, size of the farm, amount of money they spent at the hotel and so forth to that in the end, the publican became despised by many because they had lost sight of the gift they had received.
Sometimes we all lose sight of the big picture and the real deal. Sometimes big words, ceremony and the “offshoots” become the focus. Sometimes less is more and in today’s Gospel Jesus says all that is needed in few words, that he is the one. He is the one and we know that in those words the fathers gift of life to us, is in Jesus. He is the one and though in Luke 4: 14-21 his words are few, they being all we need to know. For in those words we are brought back to basics.
That one Friday, an innocent man, a Holy man, deserted by even his closet followers, nailed to a cross like a criminal, alone and on a lonely hill died that others may have life. Three days later, this man was raised from the dead and brought life to the world.
In our risen Lord we rejoice, for Christ’s victory over death, is our victory over death. On his way to the cross, Jesus brought earthly and eternal sight to a blind man. Raised Lazarus from the dead and gave him and many others earthly life and the promise of eternal life. After his resurrection, Jesus met the two Mary’s, the sisters of Lazarus and said “Do not be afraid” and greeted the apostles that abandoned him and did not lecture them, but greeted them kindly. Today he says to us, don’t be afraid and welcomes us as family. Now, we receive our Risen Lord, and receive life- today and eternally, AND REJOICE, and never again need to be afraid. Today, storm clouds don’t threaten, they bring soothing shade. Today, there are no tears of sadness, only of joy. Today we don’t see the sun setting on our lives, but the rays of sunshine in the beautiful break of day, WE REJOICE that in our resurrected Lord, we live in the sure promise that will be fulfilled on our last day. That we too will be raised up, to meet our Lord and be welcomed home. And meet those that have gone before us, and see their smiling face’s again. We rejoice in the truth, that the Words of our Lord have been fulfilled, that in his death, we died to sin, and in his resurrection, so to will we be raised up.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus has told the Jews present and to us, that the saviour has arrived, that the promises from Isaiah has been fulfilled in Him, he is the one that has been promised and later he will tell of the result, “believe in me and receive eternal life”. Yet there are those who conspire against this truth.
The genious of Bill Gates was to take a highly intellual process and make it simple and easy to understand and available to all. Yet, his vision of making computer technology accessable to the masses and not just the select few, caused many to conspire against him.
Jesus on a cross died for sinners, not for a chosen few, but for thieves, prostitutes, the poor and the rich, the lowly and the highly, and made forgiveness assessable too all. Was raised to life-and says here take it, says to us there’s no catches, believe in me-repent and follow me and receive forgiveness and life.
Forgiveness is in Christ alone-it is that simple, and it is assessable to all, that through no efforts of our own, Christ has won our battle over darkness and death- that is the Gospel. The battle has been won and the biggest conspirator of all, the devil knows it-that he was defeated on the cross yet though he knows his days are numbered, he still works against the truth. Beaten by Jesus on the cross, he now attacks the Word of God. Sometimes blatantly, and sometimes to subtly attacks the Church and its people-to make them doubt the truth, to hide the truth behind lies.
Jesus, the truth is the centre of our lives, the truth that others conspire against.
Like Judas was bought off to hand over Jesus to those who wanted to kill of the truth, after the resurrection, the same people bought off the guards in order to hide the truth. A blatant attempt to hide the truth-that we see clearly as a lie.
But the most deceitful lies are those that are partly based on truth. We are constantly reminded that we are sinners, and we cannot argue that-because even the Word of God confirms that. But the lie comes after. That in our sin, in our walking away from Jesus, in our weaknesses, and in constantly failing to live as we would wish, that we should doubt our forgiveness-that’s the lie.
Or alternatively, Christ did die and was raised for sinners-but not sinners like you. You’re too far gone, beyond help or at the very least-you better get your act together and become that perfect person you have to be. That’s the lie and the deception. A lie that if we only saw an empty tomb would leave us guessing, but in faith don’t see just an empty tomb but the living presence of Jesus.
The legendry American Gridiron coach Vince Lombardi once said that a players greatest moment, is not winning or losing, but when you are broken and busted and have nothing left to give, and you look across and you see your team mates-and they are the same.
In our lives, we still take the bumps and the bruises, and we take them with our families, friends and loved ones. But sometimes, we look across and they are no longer there, just emptiness, except for Jesus, and as he lifts us up, we see he wears our bruises, and says I am with you, I have always been with you and will be to the end. Fear not, my victory is yours.
In Jesus selfless act on the cross, and in his desire that we accept in him our victory over death, accept in him undeserved forgiveness-the lie is dispelled and we see the truth. We see the love of God, shown to us through His Son Jesus, given to us-to save us.
Jesus backs up his Words with actions. Jesus said he was the one to carry out his Fathers plan to bring us salvation, and he did. Just as he said he would be raised, he was. Just as he said he brings forgiveness, he has. In the garden of gethsemane, Jesus needed the disciples most, they slept. When Jesus was on trial, Peter denied him, and when he had risen as he said he would, they are nowhere to be seen.Yet when Jesus meets them after his resurrection he does not call them his disciples-he calls them his brothers. Jesus could have said many negative things of his disciples-and all would have been true. But what IS Jesus response: he calls them his brothers and welcomes them into his family.
In todays Gospel, Jesus has brought us back to the basic truth and Jesus says what he means and means what he says. He was called to give his life for us and he did, Jesus said he will be raised, and he was, Jesus said he brings forgiveness, and he has. Jesus says he has fulfilled the law and the answer to our sins is him and not in ourselves and in him we are given eternally life-and we have been, and we rejoice. Amen.