Devotional

Published on October 24th, 2019 | by Stephen Barrington

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A prophet without honour, Matthew 13:33-58. October 23, 2019 by Isak

Guds frid, bröder och systrar. In this day’s reading from Matthew 13:53-58 we join Jesus and his disciples as they return to Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth, for a second time. His first visit back home was not that successful, the people tried to throw off a cliff, and this one will prove to be equally disappointing.

During his stay he visits the synagogue, to read the scriptures and to then offer a thought or an explanation to the congregation, as was the custom of the Jewish communities. This custom of inviting, or even expecting, members of the synagogue to to do just this in an interesting concept, I can’t help but wonder when and why we dropped that tradition within the christian communities and basically turned our Sunday service’s into a one man show?

To start with the community seems taken aback with Jesus’ words in the synagogue. Who is this man who talks with power and might, insight and wisdom? They seem to recognize all that in him, and they seem astonished, but then the mood changes. This is the carpenter they know from town, they know his mother and sisters, who does he think he is?

The Bible doesn’t mention what Jesus actually says to them but I’m guessing it was some quite challenging stuff, perhaps touching the sore points, flying in the face of the general and traditional opinion on what is good and proper. Jesus is very much a counterculture person when it comes to the ways of the world.

Jesus has a tendency to do this, challenge us, sometimes in a very “in your face” manner. Many of us know the story of how God challenged John Smith, the founder of God’s Squad to go out and preach to our brothers on the road and to those on the margins. That was also something John would have never imagined himself doing, but still he did, and it changed his life quite dramatically.

I would like to think that I would do better than the people in the stories of the Bible. But if I am really honest, if I strive to call myself a follower of Christ, I have to take a look at my life and my choices. In what way have I actually allowed Jesus to change my ways? In what way have I actually and really challenged the way I look at my neighbour, my brother and sister in Christ? Or am I only paying lip service to Jesus, going about my daily business as if nothing have changed, apart from feeling a bit better about myself?

What if I change the Samaritan in the well-known parable to an Isis-member, am I still comfortable with it? Or when Jesus says that it easier for a camel to go through the hole of a needle than for a wealthy man to get into heaven, consider this: To be among the top 10 percent of the wealthiest worldwide, you don’t even need a six figure sum to your name: A net worth of $93,170 will do it. Own a house anyone? Even if you have just $4,210 to your name, you’re still richer than half of the world’s residents.

My bank accounts are empty more often than not to be honest, but I do own a Harley Sportster as seen in the picture, among other things. According to the Global Rich List, a $32,400 annual income will easily place school teachers, registered nurses, and other modestly-salaried individuals, among the global 1% of earners.

I know by experience that this line of argument does not always go down well, so it is not hard to imagine that Jesus poked a bit too many sore spots when explaining the scriptures in Nazareth. The world is unbelievably unfair, and I do not pretend to have a solution to it. But when asked if I would have been one of those who would have really listened to Jesus and taken in what he said, I would like to say a resounding “Yes”, but the only thing I can muster is “Jesus, have mercy on me”.

Isak – West Coast chapter, Finland


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