READ LUKE 9:1-11
When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, heard about everything Jesus was doing, he was puzzled. Some were saying that John the Baptist had been raised from the dead. Others thought Jesus was Elijah or one of the other prophets risen from the dead.
“I beheaded John,” Herod said, “so who is this man about whom I hear such stories?” And he kept trying to see him. (Luke 9:7-9 NLT)
I love to talk about the first 6 verses of this text. It’s exciting for me to tell people that Jesus gives us the same power and authority that he gave to the twelve that day. It’s exciting to proclaim with confidence that we can trust in God’s provision, just like the disciples who were instructed to ,”Take nothing for your journey.” It’s exciting to send people out to go and do as the twelve did. It’s exciting… right up until the writer slams on the brakes and starts talking about John the Baptist’s head getting chopped off. I was talking with a friend this week about Mark’s version of this same story (I’m preaching on it Sunday. You should come!) and he shared an interesting thought.
Jesus had come proclaiming a gospel that sounded and looked very different than the “gospel” that dominated the religious landscape of his day. Jesus came proclaiming radical love and mercy and forgiveness and grace which was very different than what was being expressed by many of the religious leaders at that time. Jesus brought with him a new expression of what has always been God’s heart for his people, yet the best that the people could imagine is that Jesus was one of the prophets of old… or John the Baptist back from the dead. It is so hard for people, even today, to imagine that God might have a fresh revelation for us. We get so stuck in our ways that we come to believe that God is too. We get stuck believing that the best God has to offer is a recycled message from recycled prophets proclaimed through recycled methods and practices.
What if it is true that God is still speaking? What if it is true that as the people of God in this day God is calling us to a new expression of his love and mercy and grace and forgiveness in our communities and around the world? Are we stuck? Or does God have something new for us even today? Have we imagined and realized all that God is, or is God bigger than our wildest dreams?