Friday, May 09, 2003

Jesus in Context, thoughts from reading Luke 9 and 10

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."
Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

He said to another man, "Follow me."
But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."
Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."

Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good bye to my family."
Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:57 - 62)

Theses verses always raise questions, Jesus seems to be being very harsh, why shouldn't a guy attend the funeral for his father? It's often explained in terms that the man's Father isn't dead yet, but wanted to join after being freed from needing the approval of his father. Similar explanations are applied to the other two as well, putting the comments in the context of the people Jesus is talking to. And I don't want to dispute these explanations, but last night I saw the comments in a new context, the context of where Jesus was in his ministry at the time.

Go back a bit and Jesus breaks some big news to his followers:

While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, "Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men." But they did not understand what this meant. (Luke 9 44-45)

and bit latter

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. (Luke 9: 51-53)

Jesus not having a place to lay his head, is more than a vow of poverty, it speaks to the rejection he experienced in Summaria when he made his plan to go to Jerusalem clear, despite local politics.

Jesus is on his final tour of the area, he wouldn't be back, so if people wanted to follow him, this was their last chance. And what an opportunity, later Jesus says:

"Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it." (Luke 10:23-24)

This was a once in creation opportunity to walk with Jesus on his final tour announcing the arrival of the Kingdom of God , to be part of healing the sick and casting out daemons. Some people missed it because they were worried about what friends and family would say.

For me this put the harsh words of Jesus in a context where I could understand where he was coming from.


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