The Raging Keystone
To start this four week journey about the impossibility of faith, I think we need to start by talking about the nature of something being impossible in the first place.
Thinking about lots of our lives. We look at the world around us, it all seems so impossible, right? Even just the reality we’re thrown into - days and nights and stars and bodies and life and emotion and even just the function of lungs in and out and in and out is wild. Let alone this story about some Jesus guy fully God and fully human.
Our instincts are to explain, to compartmentalize. That works out great a lot of the time. We know so much. More about day and night, stars, our bodies, our interactions, our lungs working. You can see them in and out and in and out.
And when we come to God and Jesus, we can do the same thing.
The Prayer of Jabez
The time we prayed for our keys and we found them!
Lots of our own call stories can be put together in neat, definable categories
And I don’t want to say that any of this is necessarily bad - lots of these help us build a foundation - solid stones help us stay upright when our world seems to shift under us. We try to ensure that these ideas become solidified.
“Is that Joseph’s Son?"
The people in Luke have their own compartments too.
The the scroll from Isa, and they hear the stories they’ve been told, and found ways to put it all together neatly.
Some of it was probably good remembrances, and others, like the “year of the Lord’s favor” were hopeful
Perhaps any good preacher will want to fashion him- or herself like this. To proclaim the best news in the most hopeful way possible.
Jubilee - the year when everything was meant to be restored… debts cleared, slaves liberated, the sabbath year of sabbath years.
This is how they’ve been taught. That this is their promise. This is their foundation.
The people loved it!
They’re amazed by what they hear!
They love to hear it because it made sense to them, what they knew to be true.This is the kind of receiving line you’d want to have. People LOVED your sermon.Lots of debate about “Is that Jospeh’s son?” Means, because we don’t have contextIs it complimentary?Is it sneering?I’m not sure what the people think, but I think to Jesus it was a sign that perhaps they didn’t entirely get what he was saying.
Jesus, foolish young preacher he is, decides to go further.
Our compartments don’t always stay as foundations. Sometimes we build walls with these same stones.
We’re acutely aware of what walls represent.
Walls meant to divide, to protect.
To define what’s legal and illegal.
Friend or enemy. Ally or foe.
Jesus begins criticize the walls that the people built.
Do you realize that these stories you thought were just about you were never just about you?
That your way of thinking might not have been what God had intended?
That the circle had always gone wider what your understanding of it?
And these aren’t small figures: you might not know all the prophets, but you’ll have heard of Elijah and Elisha
There were people that were hurting on our side, yes, but where did these prophets go? They went out to the periphery. Out where your walls aren’t.
Straight forward, rage.
LXX - related to the nostrils. Nose-flaring rage.
And there was no hesitation at that point - they got up in their rage, ready to toss him off a cliff. They wanted him away.
Maybe upset at Jesus
But I wonder if it’s more about what it might mean to have a wall knocked down.
Breaking through our walls
All of Scripture through the lens of Jesus is going to break down the walls we set for ourselves
There will always be poor, blind, and enslaved people outside of our periphery - the people who would enrage us simply by the reminder that the gospel is for them, too.
But that’s the nature of the impossible thesis Jesus offers us here: that there is no one who is not deeply deserving of the good news, and it may be the person who angers us the most that they do deserve it is precisely the person we need to share it with.
Application: Where’s your raging keystone?
Where’s the place where the foundations that keep you stable have become the walls that keep people out that don’t fit your definitions of what God is calling us to?
It often means the God and the Jesus we have inside of that space is going to be safe, and defined by what we want.
The gospel isn’t just white, isn’t just middle class, isn’t just blue or white collar, isn’t just conservative or liberal, isn’t apolitical, isn’t just straight, isn’t just legal, isn’t just convenient, and isn’t just the Tile you can call on for spiritual relocation, not the amazon of blessings dot com, and certainly isn’t the stone compartment we hope to use to shield ourselves. Any of those upset you? Maybe there’s your keystone.
And the gospel isn’t always the thing that will make you want to shake my hand afterwards and say how good of a sermon it was. It should on occasion make us angry - myself included. If it doesn’t, then shame on all of us for putting God so neatly in the box of our design.
I invite you to pray this week about that keystone. About where there’s rage, and if there isn’t any, I wonder if we need to dig deeper then, and invite Jesus to knock those down. Because on the other side of that wall is where the beauty of the impossible lies.
Because on the other side is where Jesus is, who no matter who we are, calls us to him. That’s where we’ll pick up next week.