We have begun a study of Luke at our church this fall. In chapter 4, starting at verse 16, Jesus begins His ministry by preaching a sermon in his hometown synagogue.
It is a little comforting to pastors like me that the sermon is a complete flop. It is such a complete flop that the congregation tries to throw Jesus off a nearby cliff. I’ve preached bad sermons, but I’ve never had a congregation, well, it’s safer to say that I’ve rarely had a congregation, try to kill me for one.
What the people were so mad about was that Jesus told them that they weren’t special. As Jews, they were the people of God, absolutely, but that didn’t mean that they were perfect. It didn’t mean that they could do whatever they wanted to do in life.
All people – Jew and non-Jew – need to come before God and admit that they aren’t perfect. Everyone needs to repent and apologize to God for what they have done wrong, and everyone is in need of grace and forgiveness.
Jesus reminds them of Elijah and Elisha, who were sent not to Jewish people, but to foreigners whom they relieved of the effects of drought and disease. Jesus tells his hometown people that they are not good enough, that they too need forgiveness and that God has come for all sorts of people, not just the Jews.
It is painful to hear that we aren’t that special.
The truth is that we aren’t special. I know we live in Los Altos, and we think that makes us special. We have lots of money and we are important people in the world, but the truth is that that doesn’t make us special either. Even lots of people telling us how important we are, how special we are, doesn’t actually make us unique.
We in Los Altos like to think we are better, different, that we aren’t like everyone else. The truth is that we are fundamentally the same as every other person on the planet. We fall short of God’s glory, we need to be rescued from our sin, and we cannot do that ourselves. All people need Jesus, all disciples of Jesus need to invite Christ to rule in our lives. We cannot catch Jesus by hanging around Christians. Going to Sunday School all those years ago was nice, but it doesn’t make one a disciple of Jesus.
I’m not that special, and you aren’t either. All of us have done wrong, and all of us need the forgiveness that comes from God alone. I believe that if we all behaved and believed that we aren’t unique and God’s gift to the world, then perhaps we could be a little nicer to those around us.
Each person is created by God, loved by God – but not unique. So let’s get off our high horses and give a little help to those around us who need help. I’m not that special, just like you.
The Rev. David Moore is pastor of Union Presbyterian Church of Los Altos, 858 University Ave. For more information, call 948-4361 or visit unionpc.org.