Monday, January 26, 2015

Begging for miracles...

I took a little nap on the couch.

I awoke to find Amos watching over me.

Yesterday, my goal was to water the plants in the solarium and the hanging baskets.  I added to that: clean the main bathroom.  Bending over and scrubbing the tub is never a good idea for me.  However, taking a shower last night was almost heavenly for the secure purchase my feet had on the clean surface of the tub.  Just doing those two tasks wearied me.

Today, my goal was napping.
I did.
Many times.

In case you were wondering, I had the Spicy Pulled Chicken Take Two in both tacos and on chalupas (the latter today).  I found the meat to be tasty both ways.  I am inordinately pleased that the pulled chicken turned out so well.  I did adjust the recipe a tad for next time.  I added 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to kick the heat up a bit. I thought that would be a bit better than simply increasing the chipotle chili pepper.  I cannot wait to make the recipe again, but I do still have eight servings to chow down upon.  Good times await me, eh?

Did I mention that I am weary? I am most definitely getting better, but I am oh so tired.  I suppose I have worked too much trying to catch up on the lapse in housekeeping over the past two months.

We had a measly amount of snow.  I still desired Firewood Man to clear all that blowing and drifting so that I could carry out the trash I had set on the porch.   He did.  So, I did.  Well, there you go, one task today:  emptying all the trash about the three floors of my home.

A few more notes on Michael Card's commentary on Luke:

~~~~ Chapter 3 begins with a specific historical setting mentioned in the first two verses:  emperor Tiberius Caesar, governor, Pontius Pilate, tetrarch Herod, and the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas.  These two verses are examples of one's I used to skip.  Yes, I typed "skip."  Yet the commentary is teaching me how perfect each Gospel, each testimony, is and so to value and appreciate even the bits you might be tempted to skip.

At the end of the historical setting, much of which I'm now reading for the third time (this being the third commentary), Michael Card concludes:

Although this collection of powerful men is meant to point to a date of A.D. 29, nonetheless each major person on Luke's list represents corruption, greed, and the irresponsible wielding of power.  The tone they set for the opening of Jesus' ministry is dark and foreboding.  Into a world dominated by fear, injustice and corrupt power steps the Prince of Piece and the Light of the World.

When Jesus arrives in the flesh in this world is important.  Understanding what was happening all around those to whom He ministered and those to whom His disciples did.  It is so very much more political than I ever knew, with despots in charge that would rival any tyrannical, murderous dictator we could pluck out of history or still find today.  The Herod family (to lump those folk together) were as bad as the Mexican cartels, with poisonings and imprisonment and murders.

Do you ever stop and just soak the when of Jesus in?  Do you ever stop to consider the upheaval in the Jewish community or the ineffable change that impacted every life when the Roman Empire was established?  This was a time when men declared themselves to be god in their power.  And when the people of God had taken the 10 Commandments of the Law and parsed it into 613 separate laws to follow, making the impossible even more so, leaving God in the dust of their scholarship and obedience.

People were hungry, both literally and figuratively.  They were afraid and uncertain.  And they longed for rescue.  How difficult it must have been to have that rescue come in the form of someone who would turn their world upside down and take even the comfort of their orthodoxy away from them.

~~~~ I learned something new about the profundity of John the Baptist's declaration that he was not worthy to untie Jesus' sandals:

Untying sandals was the task of the lowliest slave.  The rabbis had decreed that the overzealous followers of well-know teacher could perform any sort of humiliating task for their masters except one:  they could not untie the sandal thong.  That was seen as too degrading for anyone—anyone, that is, except John.  After all, he is only a voice, crying in the wilderness.

~~~~ Matthew's testimony to a Jewish audience, has the lineage of Jesus beginning from Abraham.  Luke, the testimony to the Gentiles, has the lineage of Jesus all the way back to Adam.

~~~~ Two specificities of Luke about Jesus' baptism:  1) Luke devotes 16 verses to John the Baptist and his followers, but only two for the baptism of Jesus and 2) only Luke tells us that Jesus was praying as the heavens opened and He heard the words He needed to hear with the ordeal ahead of him (His temptation).

~~~~ In Chapter 4, Jesus teaches in the synagogue of Nazareth.  Michael Card's commentary explains where in the service that could/did come about:

On the Sabbath Jesus enters the synagogue.  At the closing of the service comes what is referred to the haphtarah, a portion of the prophets that is read before dismissal.  Any young man from the community could do the reading and make a comment on the passage if he wished.  The attendant hands Jesus the scroll of Isaiah.  He unrolls it and begins to read.  As Isaiah's words had defined the ministry of John the Baptist (Luke 3:4-6), now they will perfectly describe what Jesus has come to do.

Now, I cannot pronounce that part of the service, that H word.  But I liked learning how it is that Jesus came to be teaching. I mean, He was not going around as a rabbi, did not claim that.  In fact, in the introduction to Luke Michael Card points out that Luke doesn't use the word "rabbi" in his testimony.  Jesus, here, took up a common opportunity and used it to His purpose.

~~~~ What I liked more, though, was the second bit of commentary Michael Card had on Jesus reading from Isaiah:

Even those who, because of their lack of education, are unaware of another one of Isaiah's prophecies—that he would be a man of sorrows acquainted with our deepest grief—even these recognize in him someone who tears are their tears as well.  He not only weeps for them; he weeps with them, becoming acquainted with the darkest depths, with their poverty and pain.  He does not explain away the pain, nor does he say that he has come with the answer or that he will fix everything.  Instead he bows his head and allows the tears to flow.  It is not about providing answers or fixing a problem; it is about entering fully and redemptively into their suffering, because Jesus knows that God uses suffering to save the world.  He has not come to fix death and sorrow but to ultimately bring about their demise.  He has not come to give answers; he has come to give himself.  His presence, his tears are the solution, the answer, and the truth.  And in the midst of that moment when we don't get what we want, we get what we need.

Lots to savor and ponder here.  For one, it is good to note that Jesus did not come to provide all the answers or fix all problems.  For another, while I first took a bit of offense at the words "God uses suffering to save the world," upon further pondering it occurred to me that, in one sense, God uses suffering because that is all that man has left Him, from that very first choice in the garden of Eden.  And, third, the last sentence.  It makes me think of Matthew's testimony and the grandiose, victorious notions of what a Messiah is supposed to be the Jews held and yet the Messiah who came to them, though not what they wanted, was exactly what they needed.

~~~~ Finally, I have read and re-read and read again the ending of Michael Card's commentary on Chapter 4:

If you read between the lines—that is to say, if you interact with the text through your imagination—you begin to think that Jesus not not want to become known simply as another faith healer.  Several faith healers were traveling around at that time.  In the morning Jesus goes out into the wilderness, which we will discover in Luke 5:16 is his habit.  The crowds find him anyway, and he is confronted once more with their bottomless need.  From this point on in the ministry, they will be following him everywhere.  He will go into the wilderness for a break and turn around only to find five thousand of them, wanting more bread.  They will press in to the point of crushing him so that he will not even know who is touching him (Lk 8:42, 45).  In Luke 4:43 you can almost detect the tired tone in his voice.  Jesus says he needs to leave and go preach in the surrounding towns "because I was sent for this purpose (emphasis added.)

He has just read those words from Isaiah that define His ministry:  to preach good news to the poor.  But now the emphasis has shifted to healing and casting out demons.  The crowds are clamoring for provision, like the children in the wilderness who wanted bread and water.  But Jesus has come to do so much more.  He will continue to graciously heal and feed them by the thousands as an expression of his power and gracious lovingkindness.  From even this point so early in the ministry, however, you can sense a growing sense of loneliness as the crowds beg for miracles and refuse to listen to what he has come to say.

How odd to think that Jesus' found comfort and refuge in the wilderness.  That last line, though, makes you think about how very many times He either is admonishing folk to hear or asking why they cannot hear.  And then ... I begin to wonder:  Am I begging Jesus for miracles instead of listening to what He came to say?

I honestly doubt anyone would consider the things I long for to be miraculous, but, I fear that they actually are ... that I, too, am missing the point.

1 comment:

Mary Jack said...

My dear, I have no idea whether you long for miracles, but yesterday, when Ned was translating Mark and pondering aloud, I found myself saying, "I wonder what the Card commentary would say," and I smiled to think of you. :)

With love, Mary