Summary: Often we try to fit Jesus in a box, but he is far to big to fit in our boxes.
Luke 4:14 - 30 – Letting Jesus out of the Box
Props : A large cardboard box wheeled onto the stage (with a person inside of it)
A man who smelled like a brewery flopped on a seat at a bus stop next to a priest. The man’s shirt was stained, clothes unkempt, and a half empty bottle of wine was sticking out of his torn coat pocket. He opened his newspaper and began reading. Needless to say, the priest became uncomfortable at the smell and appearance of his seatmate.
After a few minutes the disheveled guy turned to the priest and asked, "Say, Father, what causes arthritis?"
In his annoyed state, the priest retorted, "Mister, it’s caused by loose living, being with cheap women, too much alcohol and a contempt for your fellow man."
"Well I’ll be...." the drunk muttered, returning to his paper.
The priest, realizing the error of his comment, apologized. "I’m very sorry. I didn’t mean to be so rude. How long have you had arthritis?"
"I don’t, Reverend. I was just reading here that the Pope does."
Just like this priest, too often we can make assumptions about people that can be completely wrong. What is worse though, is that too often we can make assumptions about God that can be completely wrong. We conservative evangelicals are very prone to doing this. We try to squeeze the creator God with all his awesome characteristics into a box or into a set of creeds or theological explanations which we can comprehend or handle with our feeble little finite minds. In so doing, we put limits on what we will allow God to do in us and more seriously, we try to limit what God is allowed to do in other people.
This morning, I want to look at a passage in Luke’s Gospel, where a group of people who know Jesus very well tried to stuff Him into their box. The problem was, that Jesus’ purpose and his whole ministry was way too big to be contained in any box dreamed up by the thoughts of mere men. And so unfortunately, he burst out of the box, ripping it to shreds in the process. (Person bursts out of the box) The people who had created this box for Jesus didn’t like this very much as now Jesus was uncontained and they didn’t quite know how to understand Him or his ministry.
Come with me to Luke’s Gospel chapter 4 vs 14- 30. Pray & Then Read Luke 4 :14-30
Here we have an account of Jesus coming home. Nazareth was the place where he grew up. He no doubt had some wonderful memories of this town. Just outside of the gate there was that favourite climbing tree. He was able to wander the streets and lanes without even thinking about where he was going. He was able to greet people by name and they also knew him. It was a good place to be. And as was his custom, every Sabbath, Jesus went to the synagogue to worship God.
Synagogues were meeting places where people came together to worship. They were usually constructed on the highest piece of ground and were build so that as people entered and knelt down to pray, they would be facing Jerusalem (and the temple and ark of the covenant). The Synagogue was fashioned after the temple and so at the end of the building closest to Jerusalem was a chest, commonly called the ark where the sacred scrolls were kept. This mirrored the holy of holies. In front of this was an 8 branched lampstand like the temple, and besides this was usually a single lamp which was kept burning all the time. Nearer the middle of the building was a raised podium, usually with a pulpit where the Scriptures would be read from and where the teacher would sit to teach. Men would be grouped on one side of building with women on the other and a 5 or 6 ft wall separated the two.
Synagogues were not like churches today where they had minister. Some did have teachers or rabbis with them, but more often than not the local synagogue leaders would invite people to do the readings and then preach or reflect on it. Jesus had begun to make a bit of a name for teaching as he wandered through the region of Galilee and so on this Sabbath, he was asked to read from the Holy Scriptures. We don’t know whether the passage he read was his choice, or whether it was set down, but in any case, he was given the scroll of Isaiah the prophet and Jesus stands to read the Scripture up as a mark of respect and turns to chapter 61. In actual fact, it is not a direct quote, but he has joined 2 passages and purposely left out some specific phrases. Don’t get hung up on Jesus doing this. Both passages in Isaiah were recognized as messianic passages and here Jesus picks up several ideas and combines them. He says.