Sunday 17th March 2019 at Mojacar
May I speak in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit.
I wonder how many of you remember George Burns.
He once said that a good sermon is one which has a great beginning and a great end and as little time as possible in between. Well I’ve been picking up pointers from Duncan, so good luck with that.
But it got me thinking about what a sermon is all about. Is it PREACHING or TEACHING or a bit of both.
I think a lot depends on who is taking the sermon.
Father Vincent is one of the more enthusiastic preachers and can get excited about what he is telling us. Fr Alan is much quieter and calmly takes us through the Word.
Alwyn takes the light hearted approach. Me, being the shy retiring type I’m still trying to get to grips with it all.
But variety is good and certainly it’s there throughout the Bible. The old testament prophets were either prophesying doom and gloom or forgiveness and salvation.
The gospels are slightly different as each is written for a different purpose but the four give us an accurate picture of who Jesus was, His life, His purpose and His teachings. They offer a complete picture of who the Son of God really was.
So what of Luke how does he present Jesus? He presents Him as the Son of Man who brings salvation by identifying with humanity in all its weakness. He heals the sick and seeks out those who have been rejected by society. He writes of the difficult journey we will all have to follow Christ’s teachings as Christians. He also challenges. For instance, for male Christians to include women and give them appropriate opportunities to be ready to take risks in serving God. In Luke’s day it was a man’s world but Jesus always included women.
Now you may think that with all that he writes, Luke was around at the time of Jesus but most of his accounts come from other sources.
The Gospel reading we heard today consists of two separate statements, the first. The Warning against Herod (31-33). Controversies with opponents. and The Lament over Jerusalem (34-35) Words of Judgement. When we read the gospels we find many similarities between them and Luke is no different but the first of the two statements has no parallel in other gospels. The second one however does, it’s appears in Matthew 23, 37-39, but Matthew, places it later in his gospel and chronologically it is better placed. Matthew places it after Jesus has pronounced His seven woes to the scribes and Pharisees.
But what of this reading? It begins with the approach of the Pharisees, to Jesus who was at the time in Galilee to warn Him about Herod and his threat to kill Him. When we read this, knowing of the relationship between them and Jesus we could be forgiven for thinking that they just wanted Him out of the way and certainly not going to Jerusalem. It could also be that there was a genuine threat because although some Pharisees hated Jesus there were those who did not and were concerned for his safety.
Why Herod wanted to kill Him is not said. It could be that Herod thought of Jesus as in some way a successor to John the Baptist and we all know what happened to him. In any case Jesus was an enigma and in chapter 9 verse 9 Luke actually states that Herod tried to see Jesus.
Jesus’s response to the warning was dismissive, “Go and tell that fox” implying that Herod was a deceptive and wily person, who definitely wanted Jesus dead. But Jesus had his own agenda God had set His course and it didn’t matter what the Pharisees or Herod wanted. He would continue with his ministry and would not be stopped. He would continue to cast out demons, perform cures and on the third day the course would end
Thus warning of his death and resurrection.
The second statement, The Words of judgement, seems to be out of place in Luke’s narrative, because Jesus was still in Galilee at the time and doesn’t arrive in Jerusalem until the 19th chapter, that’s why I mentioned Matthews narrative earlier, chronologically it makes more sense.
Luke’s placement though helps set the scene and the tension leading up to the tragedy that is to come in Jerusalem.
The course has been set there’s no turning back and Jesus knows that’s His ministry will end in Jerusalem with Him giving Himself to the Crucifiction, a selfless life leading to a selfless death.
Jesus’ lament is sad because he knows that Jerusalem has already been the place where prophets had been killed before, Jesus cries out. “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings” Here Jesus is telling the people of Israel that he would have gladly protected them but they just would not listen. He pronounces doom on the city, which was eventually destroyed in AD 70.
The passage ends with Jesus saying. “You will not see Me again until you say. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
When will that be????
No one knows but the only way it will happen is for all Humanity to be right with God. In chapter 14 of Johns gospel Jesus says “I am the way and the truth and the light and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. And the only way we can do this is through confession, repentance and faith in Jesus as the Son of God.