Justice Week 3 - Radical Love and Hostile Neighbors
Summary: In Jesus we see the embodiment of God's justice and the embodiment of the cost of that justice
14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read,17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[f]
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down.The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
23 Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”
24 “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy[g] in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”
28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
How does fear affect the way we think about and try to carry out justice?
In Luke 4, when Jesus preaches in Nazareth, he identifies himself and his ministry as connected directly to the prophesy about the coming of Jubilee for all people.
- Jubilee is the promise of a restoration of the land
- Jubilee is the forgiveness of debts
- Jubilee is freedom for captives
How does Jesus embody all those promises?
Why, if Jesus is the embodiment and proclaimer of these long awaited answers to prayer, do the people in his hometown react with violence? They are reacting to Jesus extension of the blessings of God to people outside Israel. They don't want Jubilee for their enemies, they want retribution.
- It is disturbing that the people of God can encounter the justice of God and reject it with such vehemence
- Have we ever been guilty of doing this?
- Jesus, throughout his ministry, absorbs the violence and rejection of those who are opposed to the justice of God.
Big Idea: When we encounter God's justice we must choose the cost to ourselves of obedience or the cost to the world of living in our fear
Encountering the justice of God requires us to count the cost of justice
- What is the cost to us in regards of our expectations and desires? Are there those we want retribution and punishment for but God is calling us to work towards healing and reconciliation?
- Will we, like Jesus, be willing to absorb the violence and rejection of those who reject God's justice, in order for it to be experienced by the vulnerable?
Where do we speak justice but fail to live it because the cost is too high?