Not what you were expecting

Not what you were expecting

Luke 7:29-35
1 Kings 18:31-39
Mr. Ken Corkins – May 5, 2013 @ Ponder United Methodist Church, Ponder, Tx.

God Will Save Me

http://epistle.us/inspiration/godwillsaveme.html

So, we’re continuing where we left off last week. Jesus is still talking to the people gathered around him, and he says (in the previous verse);

{Luke 7:28}

“I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Jesus is explaining this to the people in the crowd.

{Luke 7:29}

In verses 29 and 30, Luke adds this parenthetical comment. It’s a kind of Narration for us the reader. We are going to see in these next two verses, the people in the crowd fall into two camps; those who acknowledge John’s message, and those who reject it.

So, all of the people, the First Group, which includes “even the tax collectors”.
Those eeevil tax collectors! They’re everywhere!
Notice its Plural. How many tax collectors were there, and where did they come from?

Well, the Apostle Matthew was a tax collector, and since he was an apostle, he more than likely was at this particular scene.

A few weeks ago, Rocky gave us a really good description of how the Roman “tax system” worked in ancient Israel.

When Matthew left his table to follow Jesus, he was immediately and permanently fired. I’m sure there was a list of men ready to fill that opening. But, Luke here tells us “Tax Collectors” plural. Matthew is no longer a tax collector. Who were the tax collectors in the scene? My guess is this; there is a large crowd of folks gathered around Jesus, right? Verse 21 tells us;

Luke 7:21 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind.

So, there is a healing party going on. If you were sick, lame, or whatever, and you heard that Jesus was close by and performing healing miracles, “and word of Jesus has spread far and wide”, you would do everything in your power to go out to see Jesus, hoping to be healed yourself. You, your family, your friends and neighbors, probably all got up to go and see this Jesus guy, and hopefully get healed too.

And, anytime there was a large gathering of people, the Roman authorities would certainly be aware of it. The Religious authorities already had their eye on Jesus. And hey, if you’re a tax collector, and you can find a place where lots of people are gathered, like a market place, or a bridge, or a Healing party, well, hey, that’s a “Target Rich Environment”, you ought to take your gear and head out. Its gunna be a “bumper-crop” of taxes today.

So, anyway, that’s how I believe there were tax collectors in the area when “All the people, even the Tax Collectors” get mentioned.

But, what were all the people agreeing with?

That God’s way was was right. And Jesus had just said, that John the Baptist was God’s messenger, the “Greatest prophet ever born”. John was showing God’s Way.

{Luke 7:30}

Now, Jesus turns his attention to the Pharisees who have also been following this crowd.

These curmudgeonly “Pharisees and Experts in the Law” rejected Gods purpose for themselves. This is the second group.

The Pharisees had rejected John’s Baptism. Back in Luke chapter 3, we hear the story of John baptizing in the Jordan. And John rebukes them, for even coming to out to see what was going on.

Now when I read that, I think, well, yeah, we know that all through the Gospels we see Jesus rebuking many of the Religious Authorities for their thick-headed, “holier-than-thou” ways.

This does not really surprise me. But what is different here, is that this sets even those evil tax collectors, who the Pharisees also rejected and despised, on the opposite side of the religious authorities.

{Luke 7:31}

“To what then can I compare the people of this generation”.

Now, when you hear or read that, a little light should go off in your head; Jesus is about to teach using a parable, right? “I’m going to compare” could be read as, “here comes a parable”.

Many Bible translations will put headings into the text, to help us keep track of, or find certain things in the text. For example, “The Parable of the Two Sons”, or “the Parable of the Tenants”, and so on. Its not part of the original Scripture, but put there by the publishers to help us the reader find the stories, or understand what’s going on.

Anyway, this comparison parable that Jesus is about to lay out, is sometimes referred to as “The Parable of the Brats”. I looked in the chair-back bibles, and it doesn’t have that heading, and I couldn’t find any Bible translations that have a heading called “Parable of the Brats”. But, I found the unofficial title to be rather funny, and it actually helps me to understand this strange parable a little better.

{Luke 7:32}

We have Children sitting in a marketplace, calling out to each other, Apparently, this may refer to some sort of game kids played in those days, maybe not, I read in a couple of places that these children may have been playing a game called “Game of Mimes”, which is somewhat like Charades. One person acts out, or “mimes” something, and you have the guess what it was that he was doing.

One group calls out” We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance” Which is to say, “we played a happy song, and you didn’t dance to the tune.”

Then they call out, “We sang a dirge, and you did not cry”.

A dirge is a song, a very somber song, expressing mourning or grief, typically played at a funeral. Probably the most famous one you’ve ever heard is called “Funeral March”, by Chopan. Which unfortunately has been somewhat diminished by modern usage. Its typically the song you hear when your video game character dies.

Anyway, the children in the parable say, “We played a funeral song, and you didn’t cry at the funeral”.

So, in this parable, Jesus is saying, When God sent you something good, you didn’t rejoice, or give thanks, and when you were punished for going against the will of God, you were not sorry, you did not cry, you did not repent.

The “people of this Generation” refers not only to the people that were at this event, the natural reading of “this generation”, but, in my opinion, it refers to the people of our current generation too. Jesus is saying,
You didn’t do what God wanted you to do.

Now Jesus is going to get even more specific;

{Luke 7:33}

And so, out of the desert, came this scruffy looking man, John.

Matthew tells us; “John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.

Based on that description, and this picture, (http://www.freebibleimages.org/photos/john-baptist/) it is certainly easy to say that John the Baptist didn’t drink wine. But I think that phrase can be read a little more lightly. If you look at this picture (somebody’s rendition of John), its easy to say that John was, shall we say, not your ordinary Bloke.
• Isaiah called him “a voice of one calling in the wilderness”
• Malachi called him “the messenger” .
• Jesus calls him “the greatest prophet ever born”.

And he was baptizing people , getting ready for the coming of God. His message was “Repent! Change your ways” Judgment is coming. Essentially, clean up your act, God is coming. (Kind of like the panic cleaning we sometimes do before company is to arrive.)

Apparently, this was too much for the religious authorities; they rejected not only the message, but the messenger. They went so far as to claim he was a madman (demon possessed). He didn’t fit the image of what they thought God’s messenger would look like. He didn’t say the things they thought he should be saying. Therefore, he can’t be God’s messenger, God doesn’t work like that, just look at him? God wouldn’t send that guy to tell me to clean up! He’s Not what we expected. (Brats)
{Luke 7:34}

Then Jesus came, as promised. The Messiah has come to Israel…. But, he eats the wrong foods, He eats the wrong foods with the wrong people; the sinners, the tax collectors”, the poor, the dirty shepherds, the manual laborers, the ones God doesn’t love. He touches sick people, lame people. He ignores our well thought out Sabbath rules about healing on the Sabbath, making mud on the sabbath, this guy, does everything the wrong way. He can’t possibly be “the messiah”. He’s not what we expected! (Bunch of Brats!)

So, Jesus compares this Generation, to a bunch of brats! You rejected John, and some of you are rejecting me! What does God have to do to get your attention?

{Luke 7:35}

So, honestly, my reaction when I read this verse was, “wait, what?”
We’ve just gone through a parable comparing this generation to a bunch of brats, who didn’t do what God asked them to do, and comparing how the people completely missed the purpose of John and the actual messiah, and we close out this really powerful imagery with, “Wisdom is proved right by all her Children.”

In the last part of every parable, is a very clear meaning of the Parable, for example, “The Parable of The Sower” {Luke 8:1-15} At least, at the end of that parable, Jesus explains it to the disciples, kind of a “Parables for Dummies” version.
This parable, does not follow the pattern, it just leaves me confused.

This parable didn’t follow the rules, its not what I expected.

Wisdom

What is wisdom? And who are the Children of Wisdom?

I did a search for the word “wisdom” on BibleGateway.com, just on the the NIV. I got 219 occurrences of the word “wisdom” in the bible.

• Job goes on and on about wisdom. (of course, Job and his buddies go on and on about everything)
• Solomon asks for and receives wisdom. You’ve probably heard of “The Wisdom of Solomon”
• The book of Proverbs is all about wise sayings, (wisdom)

So, the Bible talks about wisdom. So, what is Wisdom?

{Psalm 111:10}
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.

So, Wisdom is understanding God. Knowledge OF God is Wisdom. Knowledge from God is wisdom.

{Luke 7:35}

So, the Children of Wisdom, must be, those who hear God, and accept him. Those who hear God’s call, see his signs, follow His ways. They are proved right in the end. Wisdom (God) is proved right, by those who hear, believe and act! (His Children)

God works in Mysterious ways
Have you ever heard the phrase; “God works in mysterious ways”? That phrase itself is not in the Bible. It comes from a Poem, written by William Cowper (who lived from 1731–1800), whose first stanza reads;

{Poem slide}http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/God_works_in_mysterious_ways

“God works in a mysterious way
/ His wonders to perform;
/ He plants His footsteps in the sea
/ And rides upon the storm.”

The “real” biblical phrase comes from {Isaiah 55:8}
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.

Summary

God doesn’t do things the way we would do things. God doesn’t do the thing we want him to do all the time. God doesn’t work on our timetable. He has his own way of doing things. We can’t put the “round God” into our “square box”.

This is what the story of the man in the flood was about. He didn’t want an ordinary rescue. He wanted a miracle!

This is what the brats were going on about in the marketplace. The other kids weren’t doing what they wanted. It wasn’t what they were expecting.

This is what the Pharisees and teachers of the Law were upset about. Jesus, the Messiah, wasn’t behaving like they thought he should. It wasn’t what they were expecting.

When it comes to miracles, We all want a miracle like Elijah on Mount Carmel

But then, we are just human. We have our “earthly way” of thinking. God has his Heavenly way of thinking and acting. And when the two don’t align, we humans think “God doesn’t love us, or God doesn’t hear us.” How could God let this happen?

God’s plan, was not what the people of Jesus’ day expected. It’s not what we expected, but it was what God knew we needed. God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that we needed to be saved from sin, not from Conquering Roman armies. We are sinners, and there’s no way we can ever be “clean” before God on our own.
God sent the Messiah to wash away our sins.
We need saving from ourselves.

Wisdom… Wisdom is learning God. Listening, watching, seeing what God is doing. No matter how small or unexpected it may seem to us.

How about the big accident you got stuck behind on your way to work last week? You know, the one that made you late for that important meeting? Your kids couldn’t make it out the door on time, or you couldn’t find your keys, or you had to stop and get gas. Now you’re stuck in traffic. And you’re going to be late!

Maybe whatever it was that made you late that particular morning, was God answering your prayer. You’ve prayed for God to lead you, and to guide you, to protect you.

And because you were delayed a little bit…You missed BEING the fatality in that wreck.

Answered Prayer? Absolutely! Did you see it that way at the time? Maybe not.
How about now?

Is God calling out to you? Is he trying to reach you? Are you listening?
Its not a flashing Missed Call or Voice mail notification on your cell phone… God doesn’t leave a “You’ve got Mail” flag on your computer screen. Are you missing your calling from God, because its not what you expect?

Wisdom… God is calling… It may not be what you are expecting, but, He’s reaching out to you. Will you see it?

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