Luke 5:10 Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”
This Simon is Peter who later goes on to become one of the leaders in the church after Jesus rose from the dead. I don’t think Jesus had anything against fish or fishing. This is the end of a story in which Jesus directed Peter and his buddies in catching literally boatloads of fish. Jesus could have told them, “There, I’ve shown you how to catch lots of fish. Now use the proceeds to fund my ministry.” Or, “now that you have lots of fish use them to feed hungry people.” Either would have been noble endeavors. But instead he led Peter away from fishing (if you know Peter’s story, you know that he returned, or tried to return, to it). Jesus was concerned with fish and funding and feeding, but most of all he was concerned with the hearts of people and calling them back to the love of God and the love of each other. Peter had just learned how to fish Jesus’ way. Now he would learn how to fish for people. How might you go about fishing for people this week?
Luke 4:25-26 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.
The “I” is Jesus explaining to the people in the town in which he grew up that he focusing on some other people also and not just them. They don’t like it very much. Why did Jesus go to other towns and not stay in Nazareth? Why did Elijah go to the widow in the neighboring realm rather than helping his fellow countrymen? Why did the Patriots win another Super Bowl? Is life simply a series of decisions made by humans that determine winners and losers, who gets helped and who doesn’t? Or is there a divine guidance to these things that we can’t always understand or even recognize? We find ourselves asking “why me?” when things are difficult. We ask it less so when things go well for us or are difficult for others. The people who recorded the story of Jesus, those whom we call the gospel writers, present it as a story with a purpose and a divine author even when they can’t explain all the details. Are you living your life as a series of human decisions and reactions that determine the outcome or as part of a divine story, even if that story is a mystery?
I bought a new car and it came with a free trial of Sirius XM radio. One of the more than 150 channels plays the Beatles and Beatles related material 24/7. I am old enough to remember Beatlemania, the cultural craziness that surrounded their early years. They were the hottest thing to hit the scene in my, then, young life. I guess Jesus was making a similar impact in his part of the world according to Luke above. With the Beatles we found there was a darker side to their popularity and success that led to the band’s break up. We will see a little later in chapter four that not everyone continued praising Jesus. Yahoo.com tells us that “In Roman times, a conquering general was allowed a ‘triumph’, a parade though the streets of Rome, but Caesar commanded that a slave was required to stand next to the general in his chariot continuously whispering into his ear ‘All glory is fleeting’”. Jesus would learn the truth of this on a cross. We will never be the Beatles nor Jesus, but we all have our dreams of glory, ways that we hope to get praise or respect or at least noticed by someone. But “all worldly glory is fleeting.” Only the glory given by God lasts. What kind of glory are you seeking in your life?
John 2:11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
What Jesus “did here” was change some water at a wedding into wine. It is a neat trick but I’m not sure if that was all we knew of Jesus we would see it as revealing his glory. As a piece of a larger story it becomes the first glimpse into something glorious for John. By itself, it’s a curiosity that probably doesn’t even become part of history. As we think of Dr. King this weekend, we know that he became the focus of a movement. Many people did individual acts that contributed to the cause, but MLK did several things over many years and that is why we remember him. Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension were what was glorious. Changing some water into wine was a sign of something more to come. This week, where will you get a glimpse of the greater glory of God?
Luke 3: 21, 22 And as Jesus was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Life is primarily about relationships. I think that is the lesson from that confusing concept of God that Christians cling to called The Trinity. At Jesus’ baptism in the passage above we have Jesus, hear the Father and see the Spirit. The Bible never uses the term trinity. It affirms one God but says that one God is found/expressed/known (you choose the best verb) in the creator as well as Jesus as well as the Spirit. Maybe you simply need some understanding like this to have the concept of love. Love requires someone or something beyond itself to be the object of that love. And so, because within God there is this dynamic of relationship we can say with 1 John that “God is love” (4:8). This week, where will you look for the love of God?
Matthew 2:2 “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
This is the question the Wisemen asked in Jerusalem. We ask similar things concerning Jesus today, don’t we? “Jesus, where are you?” Particularly when things don’t go the way we hoped they would. “What’s going on here?” Particularly when life gets confusing for us, as it often does. But the big question is, “Why are we even asking?” What do we want from God? Do we want God to do something for us; make us, or our loved ones, happy, safe, prosperous, secure? The Wisemen said they have come to worship him. Maybe that was part of their wisdom. There is nothing wrong with asking God for things, unless that is all we ever do. The church tradition in which I grew up declares that the chief end of humanity is to glorify God and enjoy God forever. That is worship- to let God be God and to be grateful. In 2019, what light will draw you to worship God?
Luke 2:29, 30 Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation
Luke gives us several of the most beloved song/prayers in the New Testament. There is Zechariah’s, called The Benedictus, found in chapter one (68-79) just after Mary’s which is known as The Magnificat (1:46-55). The above is part of a song from a man named Simeon which he breaks into when he sees Jesus being presented in the temple, something like our infant baptisms today. It is known as the Nunc Dimittis and is used by some prayer books as a prayer before sleeping at night. Today is New Year’s Eve and many folks will be reflecting on the past year, the ups and downs, joys and sorrows, gains and losses. If you do so, include some time to think about where you saw God active in your life or your family or your community or the world. Wouldn’t it be lovely if at the end of our life or at the end of the year or even at the end of the day we could sing along with Simeon from our hearts. This week try embracing these words for 2019.