By Viola Larson, Naming His Grace.
Reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s the Lord of the Rings, one finds many characters, such as Gandalf or Aragorn, who are not always who they seem. They are mysterious and multidimensional personalities, but if their whole being was not, eventually, revealed in the stories, the stories would not qualify to be truth as it is understood by Tolkien. Jesus, who is Truth, is multidimensional, he is teacher and prophet and king. But above all he is God incarnate and Lord of the Church.
Judy Yates Siker, author of the Presbyterian Women’s 2016-2017 Bible Study, “Who is Jesus? : What a Difference a Lens Makes,” in the lesson “According to Luke” focuses mainly on Luke 4:16-30. This is the story of Jesus’ reading prophetic texts in the synagogue in Nazareth. He speaks of himself as the fulfillment of those words, which combine some of Isaiah 61 and 58. Siker sees Luke presenting Jesus as God’s prophet. And yet, although he is a prophet like Moses, (see Dt. 18:15 & Acts 7:35-37), in Luke, as in the other gospels, he is so much more.
Siker, looking at Luke 4:16-30 including Jesus’ rejection by the people of Nazareth, writes:
‘This, in a nutshell, is the story of Jesus in Luke, a prophet of God, rejected by his own, as so many other prophets of old had been rejected. What we see here, and what we will see throughout the Gospel of Luke, is a Jesus who comes in line with the prophets who have come before him and whose ministry reaches (eventually) beyond the Jews to the Gentiles. While this doesn’t happen in Luke’s Gospel as much as in Acts, Luke uses the story of Jesus as a prophet to carry the story from the Hebrew Bible to Jesus and the Church.”
Siker uses her focus on Jesus as prophet to emphasize his ministry to the outsider, the poor, the oppressed, the Gentile. This is not wrong. Jesus came to minister to broken people. He came to save sinners, But Jesus, in Luke, is more than the prophet of God. In fact, E. Earle Ellis in his commentary points out that in the ninth chapter of Luke, the transfiguration, God rebukes Peter because he equates Jesus with Moses and Elijah. Suggesting that they build a booth for all three.
Instead, God states, “This is my Son, My chosen One, listen to him.”
As someone remarked to me in another venue, even when this muddled and misleading teaching is pointed out using the context of the Bible, some will not see or hear as it would affect their membership in the ‘Presbyterian Women’ in some way.