Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Handed Over

Heed me, O LORD, and listen to what my adversaries say. Must good be repaid with evil that they should dig a pit to take my life? Remember that I stood before you to speak in their behalf, to turn away your wrath from them.  Jeremiah 18:19-20

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”  Matthew 20:17-19

Why are we surprised at what happened to Jesus?  People have been rejecting the prophets for millennia. Today, we not only get Jesus foreboding his demise but also the foreboding of the people repaying the good of Jeremiah with evil. 

Look at the prophets of the Old Testament.  They were regularly rejected and criticized for their true words from the Lord.  That hasn’t changed today.  Prophecy is not for personal popularity. Prophecy is for the Lord’s glory, the Lord’s purposes.

Prophets are not seers of the future with some kind of crystal ball or Magic 8 Ball.  The word “prophet” comes from the Hebrew word “nabiy’” and means “spokesman” or “speaker.” A prophet is more like God’s PR agent or Ad Men/Mad Men on earth.  In the Greek, sources explain that the word for prophet means several things; it is a “forth” (pro) “telling” or teaching and an interpreter of the oracles of God.  Thus, when God’s Spirit solemnly declares to men what he has received by inspiration, especially concerning future events and he either speaks them or writes them down. From Abel to Zechariah, prophets met their demise.  For example:
  • Daniel was taken into captivity.
  • Ezekiel revealed prophecies regarding the destruction of Jerusalem but also the restoration of Israel in his “Temple Visions” while in exile in Babylon.
  • John the Baptist was the last of the Hebrew Bible prophets to lose his life before Jesus took center stage.
  • Jonah ended up in the belly of the whale before he accepted the mantle of prophecy.
  • Moses might have been the “lawgiver” but he also did his best work in exile and as a refugee migrating through the desert to the Promised Land. 

Your list might have been based upon studying other prophets but rejection is part of the character of both the Major and Minor Prophets.

Therefore, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood!  Luke 11:49-51

Why were the disciples not prepared when Jesus predicted his Passion, not once, not twice, but three times? Why were the apostles not prepared that they too would be asked to drink the same cup? Why should we be surprised that Jesus may face the same fate? 

This is not an election, primary or caucus.  Jesus delivered a socio—economic-political manifesto about the Gospel work.  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)

People did not vote against this platform in favor of another one.  They voted God entirely off the proverbial island. Mocked.  Scourged. Crucified.

And Risen! Alleluia!

We must be willing to suffer humiliation.  If you are rejected for your faith, you are in good company.  If it is any consolation, people are not rejecting the individual prophet or worker in the vineyard.  They are rejecting the message sent from the Lord. 

Focus on accepting the mission Jesus has for you this Lenten season and hand over your rejected spirit for an anointed spirit.    

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