Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Teaching after 40 Days

Jesus' early teaching, as chronicled by Luke, was powerful.
"Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about."
"And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all."
"And all bare him witness and wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth."
"And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power."

It's interesting to me that these words fall hard on the heels of Jesus' 40 day fast and his encounter with Satan in the wilderness, in which Satan tried to persuade him to act contrary to the will of God.  Was Jesus reminded of what powerful teaching is and what it is not by that encounter?

Three temptations are chronicled in Luke, chapter 4: the temptation to turn stones into bread to assuage his hunger, the temptation to assume and enjoy worldly power, and the temptation to go careening off the pinnacle of the temple and be caught by angels.  Satan tries to persuade Jesus to his way of thinking by telling him that he won't have to be hungry if he does.  He tries to persuade Jesus to his way of thinking by telling him that he will not only be a powerful influence in the world but also one that others will listen to and obey and praise and give much wealth and prestige to if he does.  And he tries to entice him to his way of thinking by employing the allure of excitement and thrilling experiences.

And as you read Jesus further teaching in the rest of that chapter and over the next three years, he eschews all three methods of presenting his message.

He feeds people when they have traveled far to listen to him are far from food and helps them catch fish, but the only bread he ever promises they will have if they ally themselves to his gospel is "the bread of life."  Though there is work to be done to help feed those who are hungry in his life there is no promise of freedom from hunger in discipleship.

His sermons are clear that discipleship to him is a life of humility, meekness, forgiveness, turning the other cheek, being submissive to those in power, and serving one another.  There is no promise or increase of social, political or economic power or influence or respect coming to those who choose his way.

And there are no thrills.  There is a lot of walking on dusty roads, and stopping to talk and to help and a lot of prayer in his work.  But anything unusual, like a healing, is understated and usually wrapped up with the admonition to "tell no man".   And he expects his disciples to do the same.

And his teaching, accepted by some and soundly rejected by others, was powerful.

As I teach the gospel to young people, I think I should keep this in mind.

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