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May 2 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 30, 2017 – Luke 24:13-35

“Please Stay”

They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

Intro: Finally, we have our painting

It is not my place to name another person’s artwork–however . . .
– Hyatt pointed out for me some interesting details in how this came out
• for example, the motion that moves across the canvas as we follow the raised arms
– the two disciples are saying, “Please Stay”
• and that would be my choice for the title of this piece

When the five or six of us here decided to meet formally,
– I began to formulate a vision for Reflexion
• my intent was to define our community and give it direction
◦ but I got a very strong impression that was not what God wanted
◦ instead, we were to let his Spirit do as he wished and then see what shape it took
• in our first meeting, all I could say for sure was what we weren’t
◦ e.g., a “church”
– if we were to illustrate what Reflexion is with a story
• it would be the narrative of these three figures and their interaction
◦ we are the two characters standing side-by-side
◦ we are traveling–each of us for our own reasons–, but together
• and Jesus is traveling with us
◦ we are a spiritual community sharing a spiritual journey
◦ this is Reflexion

The story behind the painting

Sometime in the afternoon, on the day of Jesus’ resurrection, two of his followers left Jerusalem on a seven mile walk for a village named Emmaus. This is how Jesus had sent his followers out on an earlier mission–by twos. Since early morning rumors had been flying about how the Lord’s body had gone missing overnight and that a small group of his female followers had seen a vision of angels announcing that he had risen from the dead. To the and realistic, hard-headed apostles, this sounded like nonsense and they refused to buy it.

The two disciples on their way to Emmaus were talking about the events of the previous four or five days. That they were discussing those things, indicates they were searching together for answers. Of course, there is no way for us to know the specifics of their dialogue, but something that never entered the conversation was how all those things were a wonderful fulfillment of scripture or how so many of the ancient prophecies now made sense. It is more likely that remembering the details stabbed them with bitter grief. However, they could not hold those things in silence, but had to talk their confusion out loud.

As they went on, a stranger approached them, either crossing paths from a side road or by catching up to them. Matching his pace to theirs, he walked with them and soon he inserted himself into their conversation. Perhaps responding to their serious expressions and the dark tone of their words, he spoke as if curious regarding the subject of their discussion. They reacted as though he had exposed their bleeding hearts and for a moment the three of them stood still, frozen in silence. Clearing the lump in his throat, one of them asked the intrusive stranger, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know what’s happened these last few days?”
He responded, somewhat naively, “What happened?”
What happened, was that Jesus of Nazareth had come to the holy city. If you haven’t heard, he was a prophet who, when he spoke his words were power and when the sick were brought to him, he worked miracles. But our priests and leaders turned on him, condemned him and handed him over to the Romans who crucified. And we had been hoping that he was the One, the Messiah and Redeemer of Israel.”
“The whole thing was over quickly. His body had been laid to rest and the dust was beginning to settle. Then, this morning, some women from our group went to the tomb, found it open but did not find his remains. They reported to the apostles as story of seeing angels, but it made no sense.”

With sudden assertiveness, the stranger took the two disciples to task, “How foolish you’ve been! So slow to catch on and trust what is right in front of you. Can’t you see that everything you have described is exactly what was written by the prophets? Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer the rejection, the abuse, the cross and then to enter his glory?”

Then, for the remainder of their walk to Emmaus, he walked them through the Scriptures from the early period of Moses right through to the last prophet, pointing out passages that spoke of these events in which predictions and promises had been fulfilled. The disciples were making two journeys with Jesus; the ordinary walk down a dirt road and an extraordinary walk through biblical history.

Not far from the city gates of Emmaus, Jesus stopped to conclude his speech, wish them well and made as if he intended to continue on his way. But the other two begged him, “Stay with us.” So he did, right up to the moment when they sat to share a meal. Then something in the way he took took the bread and blessed it, and broke it opened their eyes. And he was gone.

How does this serve as illustration of Reflexion?

read more…

Apr 28 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 23, 2017 – Luke 9:23-25

Taking Care of Business

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” Luke 9:23-25

Intro: Behind me is another painting loaned to us by Hyatt Moore

He told me that next week we will have the one painted for Reflexion
– meanwhile he showed me two that were available today
• one was inspired by Van Gogh’s “Good Samaritan”
◦ it was large and vibrant with bright colors
◦ the other was dark and moody
• he told me that I could choose either one
◦ then, in the same breath, he said, “I think this one”

I know it looks like we are moving backwards
– last week we meditated on Easter and this week return to empty cross
• but this has been one of Christianity’s unique traits through history
• to paint the cross, engrave it in stone, wear a cross, write songs about the cross, sign the cross, and so on
– the resurrection sends us back to the cross
• it makes us ask, why was this necessary?
◦ what was so important that Jesus gave his life for it?
◦ and what actually happened there?
• through the study of scripture and hours of reflection,
◦ the apostles found answers that yielded a theology of the cross
◦ and that theology is central to Christian faith

This first part will be brief because you know it well

According to John’s gospel, Jesus’ last words were, It is finished
– finished translates the Greek word teleo, which means not only done or come to end
• but also complete, accomplish, fulfill
◦ a short time before Jesus’ final statement from the cross, we read:

After this, Jesus knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty” (Jn. 19:28)

• accomplish and fulfill are two forms of this same word, teleo
– what did Jesus finish on the cross?
• there are two positions biblical scholars take today
◦ as with most major theological controversies, I drift toward the middle
• short answer: Jesus finished everything necessary for redemption
◦ that includes defeating the powers of sin and evil, and resolving our guilt

Secondly, we return to the cross because of our unfinished business

That brings us back to our passage in Luke
– the cross reaches into our lives in various ways

In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer made the now famous statement, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

• these words were meant to shock
◦ but no more shocking than how Jesus put it–e.g., take up his cross
• we need to get behind the metaphor of the cross
◦ we have a term for when a person’s “self” is dead: vegetative state
◦ Jesus did not mean that, nor did he mean that we carry a literal cross
– in verse 24, “life” translates the Greek word for soul
• soul is the total inner life:

◦ mental intelligence
◦ emotional intelligence
◦ sensate intelligence
◦ visceral intelligence

• this is the person or the self–the soul

So how can losing one’s soul, save it?

read more…

Apr 18 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 16, 2017 – John 20:19-31

Reaching For Proof

So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained. John 20:19-23

Intro: The painting you see is Hyatt Moore’s “Easter Night”

The scene depicted is the climax of John’s story
– namely, the experience of the living Jesus after his resurrection
• John wrote this book after years of reflection
◦ in fact, the other three gospels were already in circulation
• why did John add these particular events to the record?
◦ why did he feel compelled to tell the “Jesus story” his way?
– we do not have to guess, because he explains it to us
• we will come to that shortly

John sets the scene with “when” and “when”

When: evening of the day Jesus rose from the dead
When: the doors were bolted, because the disciples were afraid

Earlier that day, Mary Madalene had visited them twice
– the first, she brought the message that Jesus’ body was missing
• there is something lovely in the way she personalized her concern to the angels

To the disciples: “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him” (v. 2)
To the angels: “. . . they have taken away my Lord, and do not know where they have laid Him” (v. 13)

• in her mind, Jesus belonged to her
◦ she believed that his body was her responsibility
– in her second visit, she delivered the message Jesus had given her

Then that evening, Jesus himself came to them
– first word he spoke was Peace, and he spoke it into them (cf. Jn. 14:27; 16:33)
• then he held out his hands and pulled back his cloak
◦ to let them see his, still fresh, wounds
• that was their moment of recognition
– this was important to John; that they were able to ID Jesus
• in verse 14, when Mary first saw Jesus, she did not know it was Jesus
◦ when the disciples on the lake saw Jesus on the shore, they did not know it was Jesus (21:4)
• recognition came when he spoke
◦ when he said or did something characteristic of him (cf. Lk. 24:30-31)
◦ when Mary recognized him, she cried, “Teacher!” and on the lake, John said, “It is the Lord”

With recognition, came joy (which is no doubt an understatement)
– so Jesus again said, Peace be with you, perhaps this time to calm their excitement
• then he assigned them their mission:
◦ as he had been sent by the Father, they are now being sent by them
– this meeting was a stage in their final preparation
• he imparted his Spirit to them (cf. Jn. 14:17)
• he also indicated the gravity of their responsibility
◦ illustrated in proclaiming the forgiveness or retention of sin

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” John 20:24-25

I’m thinking Thomas was upset because he missed out

read more…

Apr 11 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 9, 2017 – John 12:12-21

If We Don’t Look, We Won’t See

On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.”
Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.
So the people who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify about Him. For this reason also the people went and met Him, because they heard he had performed this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him.” Now there were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast; these then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
 John 12:12-21

Intro: Before we settle in, and listen to the Palm Sunday story,

We remember other Christians in other churches around the world
– they are also observing Palm Sunday today
• earlier this morning in two of those churches terrorist bombs took 37 lives
• ISIS has taken credit for the attacks on two Christian churches in Egypt
– this juxtaposition of celebration and death is disturbing
• I wonder, is it alright for us to stick to the program and keep our tradition?
• or should we cancel Palm Sunday this year in honor of those whose died?

In John’s report of this event–much more so than others–
– we see a confusion of competing and conflicting forces
• the crowds finally allowed to openly cheer for him
◦ adding to the electricity in the air, are the testimonies of Lazarus resurrection
• at same time, the Pharisees are furious
◦ they met to plot not only Jesus’ death, but the death of Lazarus too
– besides those crisscrossing issues, we learn of the inner turmoil of Jesus
• this is the biggest event of Jesus’ life (bigger than his birth or baptism)
◦ from chapter 2 on, he has predicted his “hour” that had not yet arrived
◦ now, on this day he says, “The hour has come” (v. 23)
• surprisingly, however, he is not overjoyed

Now My soul has become troubled and what shall I say, “Father, save Me from this hour”? But for this purpose I came to this hour.”  (Jn. 12:27)

◦ a week later he will be tortured and crucified
◦ those things are included in his hour

So, it is not incongruous for the shadow of death to fall across Palm Sunday
– this is, in fact, at the heart of the tradition
– Jesus’ triumphal entry is the prelude to his crucifixion

From this chaos of personal agendas and motivations, a request

John introduces the request in his own distinct way
– the Pharisees had just said, “look, the whole world has gone after Him”
• then, immediately following their statement, John says,
“Now there were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast”
• these were most likely converts to Judaism or else curious tourists
– they came to Philip–the one disciple with a Greek name
• “Sir,” they said, “we wish to see Jesus”
• that is, to meet him and talk with him

This same wish has been the dominant theme of my entire Christian life
– in the 1970’s, I began reading books on human consciousness
• what is consciousness? how is it related to functions of the brain?
• I wanted to make sense of statements like Practice Presence of God
◦ is awareness of God’s immediate presence an innate but atrophied human ability?
◦ is it something we can develop or is the experience always pure grace?
– for twenty years my chief prayer for myself was to be given prophetic vision
• then, in 2004, I felt a strong impression that God told me,
“I am birthing something new in you”
• I literally crossed “prophetic vision” off my prayer list
◦ at the same time, I began to see Jesus
◦ not in visions, like I had wanted–it was something different

A few years ago, I spent a month in hermitage

It was one of the best things I ever did for my soul
– I prayed while walking through forests
• alone on a stretch of beach, I meditated on scripture
• I saw two dear one morning before dawn on my way to vigils
◦ and I watched sun set over the edge of the ocean each evening before vespers
– the whole time I was zealously praying, “Show me your glory”
• one morning, reading Psalms with the monks, it hit me
• I had been seeing God’s glory every minute of every day

So now I have to ask myself, “Do I make the most of vision I have?”
– do I look for beauty?

read more…

Mar 29 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 26, 2017 – 1 Timothy 1:1-7

The True Christian Is Not A Know-It-All

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus our hope. To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. 1 Timothy 1:1-7

Intro: Paul the apostle was also a spiritual mentor

Timothy was one of his young proteges
– Paul’s first letter to Timothy begins in the conventional way
• that is to say, with greetings
• still, there is in these two verses a lot to nourish our spirits
– then, in verse 3, Paul hits the ground running
• teachers in Ephesus were fascinated by peripherals
◦ a city known for its magical and occult interests
◦ Paul found these things useless for spiritual growth
• between teaching that speculation (v. 4) and fruitless (v. 6)
◦ Paul outlines the true path (v. 5) — and this is our meditation
◦ the goal that biblical teaching attempts to reach:
1. Love – from a pure heart
2. A good conscience (orientation of one’s mental life)
3. A sincere faith – not fake or pretend

All week I’ve been learning about purity of heart

Now I realized last week’s message was a bit naive about purity
– I assumed all it required was to make one big choice, then stick to it
• I’ve learned by repeatedly returning to Blessed by the pure in heart,
◦ I have to make dozens of little choices every day, all day
• passing my thoughts through this pure heart security gate,
◦ many thoughts set off alarms
– it is not just the one thing that had concerned me
• but it has been a lot of other things as well

For example, when I became aware of my anxious thoughts I started asking, “Is this purity of heart?” In most instances, it was not. The worry was not about anything that would make the world a better place or me a better person. Or it was an imaginary and improbable situation and nothing more than a distraction that threatened to use up precious mental energy. Then I would have to choose to let that thought go, return to the present moment, and refresh my trust in God.

• I have also discovered a relational category to purity of heart

This came to my attention whenever I was on the verge of judging someone–perhaps because of their appearance, odd behavior, vocabulary, and so on. Again, I asked, “Is this purity of heart?” (Eventually, I figured out that if I had to ask the answer was most likely, No.) Then I would remind myself, “What do I know? I don’t have enough information, perspective, wisdom, or holiness to qualify to make any sort of judgment.”

Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both (1.) bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and (2.) disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. (1 Cor. 4:5)

read more…

Mar 23 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 19, 2017 – Luke 18:18-23

Is There Still Something Missing?

A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.'”
And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”
When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Luke 18:18-23

Intro: Today it will be easy for you to get what I have to say

My goal is that you remember only one line
– I will let you know what that line is when we come to it
• first, we are introduced to a ruler who came with a question
• there is no reason to think he was not sincere
◦ we can assume he really wanted eternal life,
◦ he was willing to do anything to have it, and he believed Jesus had the answer
– but what did he expect Jesus to give him?
• something not already taught by the Rabbis?
◦ a secret known only to enlightened masters?
• did he have any idea Lord’s answer would not be safe?
◦ or gentle? that it would shake the foundation of his blessed life?
◦ that Jesus was about to ruin him?

Jesus’ initial response probably sounded too easy

You know the commandment . . .

In fact, reading this passage I imagine the disappointment in the ruler’s response
– “Is that all there is to it? I’ve done all that stuff since I was a kid”
• but so far, he had only come to the first test – the basics
• just as he was feeling that he may have asked the wrong person,
◦ the easy road disappeared
◦ what Jesus said next, he had never even considered

One thing you still lack

– when Jesus tells him what he must do, it doesn’t sound like he lacked one thing
• rather, he already had too many things
◦ He could not fit through the narrow door of the kingdom with all that stuff
• however, his possessions were evidence that something still missing

There is a positive way to interpret what Jesus told him:
– “There’s only one more thing you have to do”
• but stated either way–negative or positive–God and wealth are two things
◦ he had to choose only one
◦ this was not the only place Jesus stressed the crossroads

No one can serve two master; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon (Mt. 6:24)

• there, Jesus used a word that personified wealth, Mammon, the god of money
◦ we make gods of all sorts of things
◦ Jesus also suggested that this tension between God and our gods, is the source of our anxieties (Mt. 6:25-34)
– the ruler would not be able to divide his devotion between both
• if he could not give up his wealth for God, he could not have God

Jesus does not require every wealthy person to make choice

But everyone has to make a similar choice

read more…

Mar 14 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 12, 2017 – Matthew 12:1-8, 38-42

Something Greater

But I say unto you that something greater than the temple is here. Matthew 12:6

Intro: We are not quite done with Jonah

Today he will appear in a new light

Vv. 1-8, The Pharisees went at Jesus with an accusation

They claimed that the disciples’ actions were not lawful 
– this is important to remember
• because it is a theme that runs through the first half of the chapter
– Jesus responded to the accusation with two biblical cases
• these examples set a precedent for what he allowed
◦ he introduced both cases with the question, Have you not read?
◦ he assumed a Yes answer, but indicated their interpretation was deficient
• for example, when interpreting the Law, find the spirit of each commandment
◦ a large section of the Sermon On the Mount demonstrates how Jesus did this

You have heard . . . but I say to you (Mt. 5:21-48)

◦ Paul also contrasts adherence to the engraved letter of the law with the ministry of Spirit

. . . for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Cor. 3:6)

– the Pharisees with their hyper-literalism and attention to detail could not read this way

Percy Dearmer, Neither “history or the New Testament [leads] us to suppose that God shares our human dread of innovation. He makes all things new.”

King David was an innovator–e.g., he added song and musical instruments to temple ritual

Jehoiada placed the offices of the house of the LORD under the authority of the Levitical priests . . . as it is written in the law of Moses–with rejoicing and singing according to the order of David. (2 Chr. 23:18)

– David did something in the house of God that was not lawful
• and the priests in the temple desicrated the Sabbath with work
• the Lord’s point was that special circumstances change the rules regarding the Sabbath
◦ in the first example: human need lifts the ban on Sabbath work
◦ in the second example: sacred service in the temple cancels (or redefines) Sabbath regulations

N. T. Wright, “The temple was, in Jesus’ day, the central symbol of Judaism, the location of Israel’s most characteristic praxis [practice], the topic of some of her most vital stories, the answer to her deepest questions, the subject of some of her most beautiful songs.”

– so the Pharisees had to be shocked by Jesus’ next statement,

read more…

Mar 6 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 5, 2017 – Jonah 4:9-11

The Unfinished Conversation

Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city. So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life.”
Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.” Jonah 4:5-9

Intro: This morning we come to end of our journey with Jonah

But I am warning you in advance, with God every ending is a new beginning
– please notice when we revisit some key words–e.g., great, know, compassion, perish
• God’s will for Nineveh has been achieved and now he goes to work on Jonah
◦ which has been the actual message of the story from the start
– Jonah has stood out from all other characters in every respect
• everyone else in the story is Gentile
◦ everyone else has been responsive to God
◦ everyone else has demonstrated a true fear of God
• Jonah alone was unresponsive to God (even rebellious)
◦ Jonah alone feared God in word only (cf. Jonah 1:9)

God resumes his conversation with Jonah

Here in verse 9 it is “God” (Elohim) who speaks to Jonah — the generic reference to the deity
– the Creator who is God of both the people of Israel and Gentiles

In Romans 3, Paul asks, . . . is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also . . . (Ro. 3:29). It may be an eye-opener to read the verse again, substituting “Christians” for “Jews” and “non-Christians” for “Gentiles.”

Do you have good reason to be angry . . . ? — this is the same questionGod asked before
◦ but now the subject is specified; namely, the withered plant
◦ hopefully Jonah will be able to show more objectivity toward the plant than Nineveh
• God is coaxing him out of hyper-emotional state
◦ he wants Jonah to focus awareness on his anger, as if looking at it from the outside
◦ being conscious of what we are feeling is a move toward rational thinking
– Jonah’s answer was affirmative and intensely passionate

Leslie Allen says that the Hebrew construction of Jonah’s reply “partly has the force of an expletive” and Phillip Cary translates it, “Damned right I’m angry!”

• Jonah’s vexations had been piling up and now he snaps
◦ why does he choose death? Why not say instead, “Here, God, is my resignation. I quit!”?
• because he had already tried to flee God’s jurisdiction and found it was impossible
◦ so the only option that remained was death

Then the LORD said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished over night. Jonah 4:10

God (Yahweh) begins to present his argument

First, we can see that there are missing pieces in God’s argument
(I have included a handout to illustrate how the argument would look with the blanks filled in–see footnote below)
– the effect of leaving out one side of the comparison forces us to stop and think
• for Jonah, it meant he had to fill in the blanks
• and to successfully do this requires a calmer mind
– God’s logic here is not that of Greek philosophers
• rather, it reasons from the lesser to the greater — “How much more?”
• this form of logic is typical of the Old Testament’s wisdom literature
◦ it is also considered a rabbinic form of argument
◦ we see examples of it in the teaching of both Jesus and Paul

Secondly, God is incredibly generous with Jonah

read more…

Feb 27 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

February 26, 2017 – Jonah 4:5-8

Giving Up, So Soon?

Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city. Jonah 4:5

Intro: Years ago, friends introduced me to Dr. John Southwell

He had been a medical missionary in India before returning to the States and private practice
– he was a creative and brilliant man–and something of a character
• the last time I visited him was shortly before his death from pancreatic cancer
• a hospital bed had been placed in his living room facing a picture window
◦ the view was a panorama of Pacific Ocean near the San Clemente pier
– standing beside his bed, we spoke quietly and I prayed over him
• then very thoughtfully, as though he had just made a discovery in a lab,
◦ he said, “I did not know that it would hurt this much
• his medical knowledge of the pain of this type of cancer was sound
◦ but he had no experiential conception of it
◦ he did not really know the pain — until he felt it

A characteristic of certain types of personality disorders:
– the person is oblivious to the feelings of others
• they cannot imagine the pain, fear, sadness, or misery of another person
– God’s special challenge with Jonah was to work empathy into him
• bare information was insufficient to enable Jonah to feel for Nineveh
◦ Jonah already “knew” the important information

for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness . . . (v. 2)

• God to let Jonah experience for himself the feelings of another person
◦ that other person was not citizen, but God himself

We can title verse 5, “The city and the shelter”

We are suppose to visualize these two settings
– the magnificent city teeming with life and the lean-to in an uninhabited area of the desert
• the words, the city, appear three times in verse 5
◦ was this a reminder of its size? (a three days’ walk)
◦ or was it meant to leave an impression of the city on our mind?
• Jonah left the city, but he was not quite ready to leave the area
◦ perhaps hoping God’s mercy would backfire, he sat and watched
– however, he was not going to wait it out under the desert sun
• he needed shade, though there were not many materials for a makeshift shelter
◦ if he was lucky, he found enough sticks to make something he could sit under
◦ gaps between the sticks would still allow rays of sunlight to stream in
• perhaps shamefully, Jonah wanted shelter from sun for himself,
◦ but he wanted no protection for Nineveh from God’s burning anger (3:9)
◦ Jonah had a box seat for the main event

So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. Jonah 4:6

God upgrades Jonah’s accommodations

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Feb 23 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

February 19, 2017 – Jonah 4:1-4

Anger Mismanagement

But it greatly displeased Jonah and the became angry. Jonah 4:1

Intro: The story of Jonah has harbored a mystery from the start

Jonah received his assignment from God
– and then he did what no prophet had ever done; he tried to run from God
• but this entire time we have not been told why
◦ it was, in fact, one of the questions the sailors asked that Jonah dodged (1:10)
• now the mystery will be revealed and we will finally know his reason
– the very thing he feared has now happened
• although his mood is darker than ever, there is more light in his words than ever

Jonah’s emotional state takes center stage

Displeased translates a word that means it was “evil to”–i.e., upsetting

Phillip Cary, “At this point two words that recur throughout the text come together for the first and only time in the story: ‘great’ and ‘evil.’”

– the first four verses form a unit, enclosed within Jonah’s anger
• God’s question in verse 4 rephrases the storyteller’s statement in verse 1
◦ rather than, It was a great evil to Jonah and he became angry, God turns this around
◦ he asks Jonah, Is it good to you to be angry–i.e., Does it seem right to you?
• What God is doing is creating a context for Jonah’s thoughts and feelings
– one of the ironies in this story:
• God could turn from his anger, but his servant, Jonah, could not
• Jonah had cried to God from inside the fish and God rescued him
◦ then he did as he was told — but he had not changed!
◦ now his tension with God’s will was so great, it reached the breaking point

Jonah was angry at God, angry at the world, angry at life
– angry enough to beg for death

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