Don’t Push Jesus Over A Cliff! Girardian Virtual Bible Study Preview

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday at 10:00 am CT, Adam and Lindsey host a live Girardian Virtual Bible Study following the Sunday lectionary on the Raven Foundation Facebook page. We invite our listeners to join the conversation with comments and questions. I take some notes to help me prepare… and share them with you to help you do the same! This is the Girardian Virtual Bible Study preview!

“When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.”

Whoa! Easy there, people!

What could Jesus have said to spark so much outrage? Wasn’t the congregation praising the gracious words that came from his mouth only seconds ago?

The welcome reception to Jesus’s inaugural sermon in the synagogue (Luke 4:14-21) is short-lived indeed. Last week, Adam and I talked about this sermon, a 1-sentence commentary on a truncated reading of Isaiah (61: 1-2). Jesus proclaimed good news to the poor, release to the captives, sight to the blind, liberation to the oppressed… Jubilee! But he left off one little detail… “the day of vengeance of our God.”

Last week we talked about how we can accomplish the radical change Jesus proclaimed, which is really an overturning of an entire system of injustice – without vengeance. Today in the United States, the nation that spends more money on the military than all other nations combined, how do we see enforcing justice other than through military might? In a nation where leaders on both sides have called our military a “force for good” and wars are justified for humanitarian reasons, how can we expect to liberate the oppressed without fire and weapons?

How did the people of Jesus’s time expect to be liberated from the oppression of Rome, if not through vengeance?

This week, the lectionary picks up where last week’s left off (Luke 4:21-30), and the bewildered congregation becomes enraged with the next words that come from Jesus’s mouth.

Why?

It may help to know who the widow at Zarephath in Sidon was. Or who Naaman the Syrian was. (Hint: Jesus is referring to the blessing of enemies!)

In times of great hardship, disease and famine, Jesus says prophets were sent only to those the people considered enemies. How can this be? Why would a loving God do this?

Could it be because the people were meant to take care of each other?

Is what appears to be abandonment by God really us shirking our responsibility to each other?

And when prophets call us out on it, isn’t that why they are not accepted in their hometowns?

How do we react today to those who attempt to change our unjust systems not through vengeance against enemies, but through exposing our flaws and calling on systemic change?

Adam and I will discuss this tomorrow, and we will also discuss one of our greatest modern day prophets, Martin Luther King Jr. He met the same fate as Jesus. Why?

Whether you’re a minister preparing your Sunday sermon or a lay person trying to better understand the Bible, whatever you believe, question, or doubt, we warmly invite you to participate with comments and questions as we seek to grow our virtual community. Your presence is more than an honor and a blessing – it’s a necessity! Since we are interdividual beings, growing in relationship with one-another, we need each other! Your participation is an integral part of the Girardian Virtual Bible Study!

Image: “Gottlieb Christ preaching at Capernaum,” by Maurycy Gottlieb via Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

2 replies
  1. Cathy Fox
    Cathy Fox says:

    No need to post, I am only suggesting an edit. This first sermon od Jesse is preached in the synagogue at Nazareth, not the temple.

    Reply
    • Lindsey Paris-Lopez
      Lindsey Paris-Lopez says:

      Thank you, Cathy! I made the correction, and I know it’s an important distinction that I overlooked in my rush yesterday. You are absolutely right, and I greatly appreciate your correction and your graciousness in making it.

      Reply

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