A different translation of this text highlights a particular passage in this chapter by formatting. It’s a passage that the ancient scribe quotes from an even more ancient prophet named Micah. The passage in Micah is actually a bit harsher than the one that Matthew gives. In Micah, the prophet indicates that there is a “rising up against” or actually “despising” or “defying” going on. “Neighborhoods and families are falling to pieces. The closer they are—sons, daughters, in-laws—the worse they can be. Your own family is the enemy…”*
I’ve seen what happens when families fall to pieces. The verse isn’t just about families falling apart. It’s about the call and the cost of discipleship.
Jesus has sent out his twelve apprentices to minister to people. This is part of their commission. Jesus makes it clear that it is no longer simply family relationships that define our identity when we choose to follow the call to Light and Love. It seems that he’s saying, “your first call is to me, not your family. Let go of your creature comforts in order to experience the truly unconditional love of Your Divine Parent in Heaven.”
Jesus tells his followers to speak out into the daylight those things that were revealed in hiddenness. The Spirit saying that things have been revealed to the disciples in the quiet places – their personal revelations – and they are now to go out and shout them from the rooftops. I don’t know about you, but my private times with the Divine have normally been precisely that – private. I may journal about them on my own, but “blogging” them places me in complete vulnerability. I have a really beautiful journal full of hand-written prayers and revelations. To bring them out of the hidden places into the glow of my computer monitor is a bit nerve-wracking. What if people think less of me? What if some of what I say leads people to believe that I’m a bit mental? What if they think I’m wrong? What if they stop being my friend because of what they read? And what if this makes my family angry?
Verses 29 to 32 resounded in my head…
My initial questions:
Who was asking for a sign?
How was Jonah a sign to the Ninevites?
Who is the Queen of the South?
How will the people of Nineveh judge this generation?
This post will be the first in a series of three. My original single post wound up far too long, so I figured wisdom dictated breaking it up. All three posts are grounded in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 4, verses 1 to 24.
There are two portions to this text – the testing in the desert, and Jesus’ return to his hometown.
Jesus and His Trials in the Desert
There are three tests here:
- the temptation to turn a stone into bread (here in Part One)
- the splendour and authority of the world (read more in Part Two)
- a wild leap of faith (read more in Part Three)
Henri Nouwen, in his In the Name of Jesus, deals with these three trials. If you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend it. I’ll be working somewhat from his work, and also moving forward from my own reflections.
Test 1: A Stone into Bread
Jesus has been fasting for 40 days (which in the Bible normally translates as an inexplicably long time). And wouldn’t you know it, he’s hungry. We’re in the beginning of Lent, in which we can give up things or take up new disciplines in order to come closer to understanding God’s purpose and presence in our lives, as well as the things that Jesus gives or takes up in his journey to the cross at Easter. Lent can be a special time. But have you ever noticed that the more that you cannot have something, the more that you want it? For example, I don’t eat pork or shellfish. In general, I have a cheeseburger about once a month or so – if not less frequently. But one year I went kosher for Lent. I hoped that I would learn more about a Godly perspective on food – which I did. But I’ll tell you, I also craved bacon and cheeseburgers and just about everything that I couldn’t eat while being kosher. It didn’t matter that I didn’t eat them regularly, it just mattered that I wasn’t supposed to eat them.
And Jesus was hungry.