Prophetic Voice & Pitchforks

Last week, I shared that our story was to be continued…and so it continues today.

In our story (last week) Jesus has been teaching in synagogues, calling disciples, and performing miracles in surrounding towns. Jesus has returned to his hometown and home synagogue to read an assigned scripture from the Book of Isaiah, which proclaimed:

“I have been anointed to proclaim the good news to the poor,
release to the captive, sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free.”

After reading this good news per tradition, Jesus rolls up the scroll hands it to the attendant and sits; but he sits in a seat reserved for Moses or the long-awaited Messiah. The eyes of all are upon him as he says that this scripture has been fulfilled in their hearing of it.

At this point, Jesus is receiving a lot of looks.

The year of the Lord’s favor:
the forgiveness of debit, release of the captive and oppressed. Awesome!

The long-awaited Messiah is among us…AND it is a hometown boy. AWESOME!

We can imagine the wheels turning in their heads about the special treatment they expect, which has been a topic in the past. When they learn that there will be no special treatment, what is their reaction?

The community literally chases Jesus out of his home synagogue, out of his home town, and wants to throw him off a near-by cliff.

The story took a slightly dramatic turn.

The Isaiah reading, Jesus’ teachings, Jesus’ calling for the disciples, and the Holy Spirit’s continual guidance of disciples (Christians) throughout the centuries is at least in part to act as a prophet.

Our Jeremiah scripture this morning, we heard Jeremiah say:

“Oh, no, No, NO. Lord, you do not want ME as a prophet.
I don’t know how to speak, because I am only a boy. Send someone else!!!”.

We also heard Jesus, this morning, state that prophets are not welcome in their hometowns.

Prophets do not have an easy call, which is to speak truth especially into those places where it does not want to be heard, to those in positions of power and authority. Therefore, no person has ever said “pick me, Pick Me, PICK ME” for the call of prophet.
Isaiah was a prophet.

Micah was another prophet who proclaimed that God only requires us to love kindness, to act with justice, and to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).

The Prophets and the whole of scripture echoes:

  • proclaiming good news to the poor;
  • serving and loving those in the most need;
  • release to the captives;
  • freedom to the oppressed; and
  • forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness.

We hear these sentiments echoed in our baptismal rite with our covenant (promises):

  • proclaiming Christ is word and deed;
  • seeking justice;
  • acting with compassion and mercy; and
  • loving and serving all people.

These echoes are good news for some, but not all.

As I shared last week, the gospel is great news for those who need to be released, who need to be freed, who need to hear that gospel; but it not-so-good news and convicts those who are owned debits and oppress persons.

I am often asked “how is your call” or “how is the congregation”.
As one who is ‘balanced’ or a realist, I often respond “ok” or “good”.
The reply is regularly a concerned face asking: ‘just ok’ or ‘just good’.

  1. I have not been struck out of the pulpit by lightening yet.
    (Although, perhaps that is why I do not preach from the actual pulpit).
  2. I have not been chased out of those doors with pitchforks yet.

BUT honestly this is also good and bad.

It is good because obviously I have not preached false teaching, heresy, or opposed the gospel enough for God to feel the need to smite me.

But, at the same time, have I been a prophetic voice?

  • have I preached that Isaiah scripture enough?
  • have I preached that Micah scripture enough?
  • have I preached our baptismal promises (responsibilities) enough?
  • have I preached truth, particularly to those abusing their power and authority?

Essentially, have I been prophetic enough? I do not see any pitchforks this morning.

This scripture had me thinking about a song. It is not a Garth Brooks song.
It is “Officially Alive” by Brad Paisley, which the opening verse is:

So you ruffled some feathers, yeah, you’ve done it now
turned the tables in the temple clean upside down
you’re out on a ledge and one things for sure
when you’ve got ‘em all wishin’ you’d never been born
congratulations you are officially alive
its confirmation you are officially alive.

It sounds counter-intuitive; however, Jesus was not afraid to be a prophetic voice.
Jesus was not afraid to speak truth to power and authority, ALWAYS siding with the captive, oppressed, poor, and in the most need.

Jesus gained power. Jesus gained authority.
Jesus gained a following of disciples built on love.

Jesus, according to us Christians, fulfilled the Isaiah scripture he read, was the Messiah, and came to usher in the year of the Lord’s favor but he paid the price.

Those in positions of power and authority, who had everything to lose, became fearful, which led to Christ upon the cross.

Those who were captive, oppressed, poor, and in great need, thus those who had nothing to lose but everything to gain, followed Jesus.

As we go forth into the world, hopefully not actually being chased with pitchforks:
May we have the courage and the confidence to be a prophetic voice calling for:

  • proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor; 
  • proclaiming Christ in word and deed;
  • seeking justice;
  • acting with compassion and mercy; and
  • loving and serving ALL people.


The scriptures were Jeremiah 1:4-10; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; and Luke 4:21-30.
Originally preached on 3 Feb. 2019 at Trinity Lutheran Church (Union City, IN).

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