Good Sermon Bad Sermon

Good days, and not so good days – we all have them, even Jesus.

‘And they rose up and put Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down headlong.’ Luke 4:30

I guess some sermons just work better than others. You never really know until you get up there.

What was it about this one that provoked such a bad review? Things started out fine, it seems: the congregation liked the sermon at first. Jesus responds to their surprise a little defensively, anticipating their complaints before they make them, and describing himself as being ‘without honour’ while they're still complimenting him.

So He may have been a little nervous to begin with, especially as He was preaching in the place where He was best known as Joseph’s son. And as we assert in unison every week: he was fully human, as well as fully divine.

But when He really got going, things went downhill fast. His offence? Well, for starters, suggesting that other people besides the ‘chosen’ may receive God’s saving grace. Next, He listed a few well-known examples from the Hebrew Scriptures of some who did. And then He Suggested that His hearers’ ancient assumptions about God’s promise to Israel might actually work against them, rendering them unable to see and understand what was being laid before them.

And, as if on cue, they took Him out and tried to throw Him off a cliff!

Today, we live in a gentler age. Generally people just refrain from putting money in the collection plate.

There’s an old saying among thespians: ‘It’s not enough that I succeed; my friends must also fail.’ Jesus’ great offence was suggesting that God’s love was wide enough to include people His hearers might not want to include.

We can’t stand that! At the very least, God must agree to dislike the people we dislike. He must let us decide who is in and who is out. At our worst, we care more about excluding sinners from salvation than we do about being saved ourselves. If you need proof, just look at the poor heroin addict and imagine how warmly she has been received by the fashion conscious in church.

Wisely, God has not left that choice to us. God scandalizes us with the breadth of His love. We want to be the ones who set the rules for its action in the world, but God gently takes that power out of our hands every time we make a grab for it.

A gentle caveat: you are never in more danger than when you think you know what God can and cannot do, will and will not do, does and does not love. There are many more things about God that we do not know than things we do.

The only reasonable posture for us is complete humility, coupled with alert expectation and clear vision. God is alive, and God is good. Those two things are what make our journey an adventure.

Gracious Lord, we pray that You show us the state of our souls that we may cleanse ourselves. Let our days not be overcome by our secular activities that we lose track of our spiritual goals. Lead us throughout this day so that we may celebrate Your love. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen

Írásos Bill atya gyűjteményéből. Imádkozunk az egészsége. LR

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