The Pharisees walked out furious, sputtering about how they were going to ruin Jesus.
Jesus, knowing they were out to get him, moved on. A lot of people followed him, and he healed them all . He also cautioned them to keep it quiet, following guidelines set down by Isaiah:
Look well at my handpicked servant;
I love him so much, take such delight in him.
I've placed my Spirit on him;
he'll decree justice to the nations.
But he won't yell, won't raise his voice;
there'll be no commotion in the streets.
He won't walk over anyone's feelings,
won't push you into a corner.
Before you know it, his justice will triumph;
the mere sound of his name will signal hope, even among far-off unbelievers.
January 6th is known as “The Epiphany.” This is also the feast of the three wise men. Christians around the world celebrate this feast day as recognition of what’s known as the “incarnation.” That word, “incarnation,” refers to the belief that Jesus is the second person of the Trinity, that Jesus is God. We recognize this day as a time to remember again that Christ is not just a good teacher or prophet but that Christ was the God-man. We also recognize on this day that through the wise men God in Christ was revealed to the gentiles. Today starts a season where Christians historically, focus on understanding afresh the identity of Jesus as the Christ.
This passage this morning is so interesting to me in light of the world that we live in. We live in a time when everyone, myself included, has a global megaphone. We are able to put messages out into the world for everyone to see and hear. There are also people marching in the streets and yelling and shouting for all kinds of reasons.
Just like the people in the first century we are becoming keenly aware of the injustice that exists all around us. They were under the thumb of the Roman Empire. Today we are under the thumb of consumerism, power-ism, and woke-ism.
When empire rules the day injustice necessarily follows.
Jesus, was one the most subversive forces the world has ever seen. He, through his death and resurrection, turned everything on its head. There was no violent revolution. There was simply a revolution of loving God, loving neighbor, and loving enemy. The challenge to the powers and principalities came through acts of charity, kindness, and service to one another.
As Paul wrote in Galatians 5:22-23, “But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way.”
There is no law that can stand against the Spirit. When we follow the Jesus way we subvert the systems and powers of the present age. There is a way to change our world and it is by loving God, neighbor, and enemy.
It’s not easy. We will fail. I fail constantly. All we can do is get up, brush ourselves off, and come back with a greater awareness of our need for Christ.
As we persevere in growing in subversive-gracious-love we will eventually find that, “Before you know it, his justice will triumph; the mere sound of his name will signal hope, even among far-off unbelievers.”
I long for that day.