Sunday, July 1, 2007

Listening to Jesus

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Luke 9:51-62

The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. It is the most translated book of all time. And one source I found said that it is available in whole or in part to ninety-eight percent of the world’s population in a language in which they are fluent.

It’s out there, there’s no question about it. People are aware of the Bible like no other book. Toward the end of this month the new Harry Potter book will be all the rage. But the Bible has sustained its hold on the publishing world.

But the question is, is anybody listening? People buy the Bible. They have it placed nicely on their book shelf. They might even read it now and then. Some people study it for a living. Some of us come here on Sundays to hear it and even stay afterward to study it. Many of us can even quote some of the passages in it.

But are we listening to it?

This is the perennial problem. We just can’t seem to listen to God’s Word and take it for what it is: His Word. His way. And with the full confidence that His Word and His way is the right, true, and best way. We’re always getting in the way.

You know who was one of the greatest prophets of God? Elijah. He was a powerful preacher. A faithful warrior of God. He stood up before kings and spoke boldly the Word of God. He helped those in need. And he also had trouble listening to God.

Here he was, a stalwart, now in despair. Wanting to give up. Now we’ve all had moments of disillusionment. But look at what He’s doing. He’s saying that God has gotten it wrong. Rather than listening to God he’s telling God the way things should be. Now it’s easy to see this when you’re outside of the situation. But when you’re in it, well, it’s hard to focus on anything else but how you wish God would change things so that you don’t feel so rotten.

But we see an amazing thing in Scripture when you go forward to the time of Jesus and specifically the Mount of Transfiguration where Elijah appears again, this time with Moses. He and Moses are talking with Jesus. But now we know Elijah has been listening to Jesus because he has been in heaven with Him. Whereas before Elijah just wanted to die, now at the Transfiguration of Christ he is talking with Christ about His death.

This is where we see what it’s all about. Christ is being transfigured, showing a magnificent display of glory, and yet what He’s talking about with these two former prophets is His suffering and death. But was anybody listening? Were Peter and James and John listening? Were the other disciples getting it?

Jesus made His way down the mountain after His little talk with Moses and Elijah and Luke tells us that “when the days drew near for Him to be taken up, He set His face to go to Jerusalem.” They all knew where He was going. Jesus alone knew why He was going. Nobody was listening to Him, though. This didn’t prevent Him from setting His eyes on His destination.

James and John were indignant with the Samaritans who rejected Him. They didn’t have a clue as to the rejection Jesus would suffer on the cross, to the extent of being forsaken by His Heavenly Father. All those who desired to follow Jesus just wanted to be along for the ride. They weren’t really listening to Jesus. Lord, I want to follow You, but under these conditions. I want to set the parameters for how I will be Your disciple.

This is Elijah all over again. We hear what God is saying but aren’t really listening to Him.

But this is why God sent Elijah in the first place—to point us to Christ. This is why He sent those bonehead disciples out into the world—to point us to Christ. And this is why He sent His very own Son Himself—to be the way, the truth, and the life. Hear Him. Hear the Way He has for you—it’s the best way; it’s the way of eternal life. It’s the way that goes through Jerusalem, where He suffered on the cross for your sins.

Listen to Him. Hear the truth that He has for you. His Word shines brightly in the dim circumstances of our life. When everything is falling down around us His Word is as a whisper, that He’s still there. That indeed He alone was the only one who was left when He suffered on the cross in our place. That He was rejected by sinners such as you and I are. That He chose not to lay down His head, but went on steadfastly toward His goal, to suffer on the cross.

Hear your Lord, He is the Lord of life. He gives you life even in the midst of this dark world. He sets you free from your sins in the midst of your despair. Jesus put His hand to the plow to bring about the harvest of eternal life. He never looked back. He set His eyes on that cross and came out victorious.

Listen to Him. When He says in His Word that that’s where His focus was, He’s giving us a clear vision for our eyes and hearts. Look to that cross and see your Lord and Savior. Go from here marveling as if you have seen the empty tomb for the first time. There is no greater activity on earth than listening to Jesus. After all, that’s what we’ll be doing with Moses and Elijah and the whole company of heaven for eternity. Amen.

SDG

1 comment:

the filthy augustinian said...

Amen. This is just, meet, and for our salvation.