Summary: A sermon for the 4th Sunday after the Epiphany
4th Sunday after the Epiphany
"The Risk of Preaching"
I am a avid basketball fan of college basketball. I enjoy watching or listening to almost any college basketball game. I enjoy college basketball more than professional football or any other professional sport. I especially am a fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes basketball team. Whenever I can, I watch or listen to their games.
If you know anything about basketball, you know that the referees have a very important part of the game. Sometimes they can help a team win or lose a game depending on their calls. Basketball referees have a lot of authority. They are an integral Dart of the game of basketball.
There is a fable about college basketball referees I would like to share with you. The first, explaining his actions said: "I call them as I see them." The second "I call them as they are. And the third;" Until I call’ em they ain’t nothing." Yes, until he explains the call, until he tells us who has done the fouling or who has been fouled, we sit and wonder, we sit and wait with expectation.
The men in the synagogue also waited with expectation for Jesus to deliver his sermon following the reading of the text from Isaiah. As you remember, this week ’s gospel lesson is a continuation of last weeks text. Last week we read that Jesus quoted a verse from Isaiah, and then his first sentence in his sermon was to say he has fulfilled this promise of God, he was now God’s salvation to the world. Today we see Jesus finish his sermon, we see the reaction of the people to this sermon, and we see the consequence of Jesus’ preaching.
The people sensed an air of authority from Jesus. He read, he preached unlike no other man had done in that synagogue. He had grabbed their full attention. All eyes, all ears, all of their attention were on this man. This man who said that he was now God’s salvation in the world. But then they started thinking isn’t this Joseph’s son, isn’t this the young boy who we saw grow up, isn’t this the boy we saw running around here in diapers, playing with the other boys his age. How can he now say he is God’s Messiah, there isn’t anything very special about him!!!!
Jesus heard the questioning of the people, he realized that the people were having a difficult time accepting what he was saying. Jesus then takes the bull by the horns and says, that he is God’s messiah, but he won’t prove himself, he won ’ t do any signs or miracles just to prove who he is, his word is enough, his word is enough authority for the people.
At first the people believed in the authority of Jesus. At first they hung on every word that he said, but when he started preaching about things they didn’t like, then they questioned his authority, they wondered about his credentials.
Jesus started off being popular with the people, he had picked a text that the people were familiar with, he had reminded them they were indeed God’s special people, but then he went on, he went to say that God is continuing his plan of salvation, he is continuing his plan through him. And this was unpopular. The people wanted a Messiah who would drive the Romans out of their land, they wanted a new king like David who would bring victory, who would bring wealth and prosperity to the land. So when Jesus aid he was the Messiah, this man who had no army, no home, no wealth, but only 12 common men to follow him, who begged for food and taught things that stirred up the people. They began to question who he was, they began to wonder how can God bring salvation through a wandering preacher and his band of fisherman and tax collectors?? How can this be!!!
Sometimes you and I forget too that God works through the common, ordinary things of life, God can and he does work through the spectacular, but most of time, God works through the common, ordinary people and things of this earth. God doesn’t need a great show, he doesn’t need great wealth, he doesn’t need a great army, he doesn’t need great fame, because God in and of himself is all powerful, he is mighty, he has the truth for living, so all God needs is common people, and common things like water, bread and wine, to bring his powerful message to earth.
The words we speak about God, the lessons that were read, this sermon that is being preached are brought to you by a common ordinary person, with common ordinary words. It isn’t our words, and it isn’t the person who says these words that gives them authority, but it is Cod himself. I am just a vehicle just a tool of God. It is God who brings the truth of these words into your heart, it is God’s spirit that brings the authority of these words that changes peoples lives and assures them of the grace of God, It is God’s promise that he is here today with us as we proclaim his word through the scripture, through the hymns and liturgy, and through the sermon that brings authority and power to this service. Any pastor knows he is just a tool, a delivery system in the hands of God. A pastor isn’t any different that any of you, we hurt, we feel, we make mistakes, we feel the whole spectrum of emotions as you do, joy, loneliness, happiness, sorrow, etc. But we also know that somehow how God has called us to use our words, our lives as a way to deliver his message of salvation to people.