Luke 4:22 “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.”
I had just preached my first sermon. I was eighteen years old. I began the sermon in Genesis and ended in Revelations in the matter of ten minutes. It wasn’t very good. Aunts and grandmother’s however were pinching my cheeks lying that it was the best sermon they ever heard. People were speaking well of me. And then it happened. One of my peers was waiting. “Don’t let it go to your head,” they said. The message was clear. “We know you.” “You’re the guy we played football with.”
The way I interpreted those words were, “God will never say anything special to us through you. You are just Phil. We know everything there is to know about you and its not that impressive. It's the phenomena of discounting the familiar.
Jesus understood this dynamic so well that he eventually said, “Beware when all speak well of you.”
The reason that people were speaking well of Jesus was because he was “on fire!” After spending forty days in the desert being tempted by the devil, Jesus came out victorious and as Luke says “full of the Holy Spirit”
His first order of business was to go to the temple in Nazareth and get up in front of the congregants and open the scroll to Isaiah six and proclaim those iconic words.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
He then rolled the scroll back up and set it down. He dropped the mike. If that wasn’t enough, while everyone stared at him he proclaimed…”“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
But then he goes to his hometown and the momentum is slowed. “isn’t this (Average Joe’s) son? Isn’t this the guy I played football with?
I don’t know how you imagine Jesus in school as a boy, but without admitting it, I think we assume Jesus stayed in from recess, so he could study the scripture and that there was a halo around his head and when the lights turned off he glowed.
This, however, would be inaccurate. If our theology of Jesus is correct, in addition to being all God he was ALL BOY.
They danger of this passage is that we think Isaiah’s quote is meant for Jesus alone. With our 21st century Christian sensibilities, this is the point where we say, “Yay Jesus! Preach to the poor, open blind eyes, set the oppressed free and proclaim the Lord’s favor.
Jesus, however, was quoting a passage that Isaiah owned for himself. More to my point, the Isaiah passage was meant for all of his followers as well. We are to say, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…” We don’t dare, however, because we are too familiar with one another. We have played football with each other.
C. S. Lewis suggests, however, that if we are to recognize the “holiness” in one another we are going to have to take seriously the people we played football with. In The Weight of Glory Lewis writes…
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.
But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn.
We must play.
But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.
And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.
Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”
I don’t know about you, but I want to help set the oppressed free. I want to help our blind society to receive back its sight and I want to proclaim the good news that mercy triumphs over judgement to world in need of good news.
Life Church Knoxville
We're an inter denominational church in Knoxville, Tennessee that believes that all people matter and should experience the love and power that comes along with a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ.