Today’s Gospel: Luke 4:23–30
Oh boy! He’s stirring it up and causing trouble. And his hometown neighbors and leaders of the synagogue in Nazareth aren’t having it. You see, Jesus, anointed by the Holy Spirit, has just been baptized in the Jordan and survived 40 days sparring with the devil in the wilderness. He then makes his way home as a cause célèbre and dares to preach at the synagogue of his youth. At first, Jesus’ sermon is well received but then he assumes his “prophetic voice” and all hell breaks loose.
Jesus challenges them with the truth of the prophetic voices of Elijah and Elisha. The Israelites ignored their pleas and widows starved and lepers remained sick and isolated. Old Testament prophets did more than foretell the future; they acted and called the people of Israel back to their own essential truth and identity. They prophesied for the sake of the community’s integrity. They questioned when its leaders sat fat and happy in the midst of inequality, injustice and corruption. This is exactly what Jesus did. It’s not that the synagogue audience was convicted of anything specific—they were guilty of association and put on warning.
One of the very uncomfortable roles we have to play in the church is to be prophets to one another. We have to remind one another what we’re here for, and where we need to go, and to always question. We have to hold one another accountable to the integrity of the Christian life. In other words—call each other to stay true to the Gospel walk. We know right from wrong. We know when others suffer because of our actions and indifference. And we know when we hold our love hostage. This is not prophetic and nor is it biblical. We’ve still got time. Let’s claim our prophetic voices this Lent and let ‘em roar!
Lord Jesus, May our prophetic voices be as brave and as true as yours. Help us to hear how we can grow spiritually even when it hurts to do so. Help us to offer our prophetic witness to others with a tone tinged with mercy and kindness even when it may hurt us more. Amen.
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