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Aug 13th: Which Jesus Do You Follow?, with Jer Swigart.

Posted: Sun, Aug 13, 2023
Which Jesus Do You Follow? with Jer Swigart. Series: One Thing A Spacious Christianity, First Presbyterian Church of Bend, Oregon. Scripture: Luke 13:31-34. Join us this Sunday as guest speaker Jer Swigart discusses Jesus’ dynamic relationship with political and religious authorities and his defiance of unjust systems.

A Part of the Series:

Jer Swigart


Which Jesus Do You Follow? with Jer Swigart. Series: One Thing A Spacious Christianity, First Presbyterian Church of Bend, Oregon. Scripture: Luke 13:31-34.

Join us this Sunday as guest speaker Jer Swigart discusses Jesus’ dynamic relationship with political and religious authorities and his defiance of unjust systems.


Well, good morning friends. My name is Jerry Swaggart. I’m the Executive Director of Global immersion, which is the peacemaking training organization forming everyday peacemakers. Folks who know what it means to mend internal interpersonal and institutional divides. It’s a real gift to be with you this morning. And if it be okay, I want to just spend some time considering Jesus. I think that while I love and affirm the notion of Jesus being kind and the healer and the gentle and compassionate and good shepherd, I also see a facet of Jesus in the scriptures in which he’s magnificently defiant, he stands diametrically opposed to any and every system that diminishes the image of God. In another I’m going to look at that aspect or that facet of Jesus. This morning, the world that he emerged into was a world with, with political and religious empires being established, politic and religion being used to dominate conquer, and coerce. In the Galilean region, there was a guy named Herod and tapas in kind of the Jerusalem region, a guy named Herod Arkell, as and then down south there was a guy named Philip, there were power brokers and structures in play that Jesus had to navigate. And what I want to do this morning is understand his dynamic relationship with the powers and the power brokers in the systems and the structures. And so let’s start in Luke chapter three, verse one, Luke writes that in the 15th, year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod Antipas, was ruler of Galilee and his brother Phillip ruler of the region of Ituri and tracking itis and Licinius, ruler of Abilene. During the high priesthood of anise and Kaya fist the Word of God came to John Cena, son of Zechariah in the wilderness. So here Luke is laying out the power structures, the power brokers, the who’s who have political and religious Empire, but when the Word of God comes, it doesn’t come to one of the elite. It comes to an untitled unwashed locust eating camelhair Wearing hermit in the wilderness. Why because God is not bound by the systems and structures that we so value. And when the Word of God came to John, he began to live and narrate a better story, he began to point to the hopeful alternative to the political and the religious empires that were being established. The good news that he brought was that God was going to be putting on flesh and entering into creation to liberate, transform, and restore and friends, that message began to build momentum. It touched people in their souls, they began to actually dare to believe that there was a better way emerging. But in verse 19, chapter three, verse 19, we also read this, but Herod Antipas, the ruler who had been rebuked by John, because of her odious his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done added to them all by shutting up John in prison and so John, this untitled unwashed, nobody in the wilderness became such a threat to the Empire pay attention to that a nobody becomes a threat to the Empire, that the Empire had him in prison and and we’ll get to a little bit more on like her odious, and why in just a minute. But let’s consider for a moment how Jesus responded to this. See, Jesus had a dynamic relationship with Herod and tapas. And here in our coleus, Matthew chapter four, Jesus has most recently been baptized. And when that happened, the scriptures say that the heavens rolled back like a scroll, the Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove and a voice from the heavens was heard saying, Behold, my beloved Son, Jesus received his identity, confirmation of his identity as beloved, not because of anything that he had done or would do, but because God just simply loved him. Then he moved into 40 days of wilderness wander in which he was going to learn how to live love, and lead in the Beloved, as he’s emerging out of that season of deep wilderness wander. We read this in Matthew four, verse 12. Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee now get this Herod Antipas ruler over the region of Galilee becomes threatened by a hermit talking about a better way in the Galilee. So Herod Antipas, has John the Baptizer, put in prison in Galilee. And where does Jesus go? He goes to Galilee. He goes to Galilee, even though Galilee is the most dangerous neighborhood in the world. For him to be at. It’s like Jesus is saying, hey, Antabuse, do you think you can take out my cousin? By putting him in prison? You’ve got no idea what you’re up against. Now, I’m coming to town. Now as to why John was in prison and tapas had a dynamic relationship with with women. His first marriage was a political marriage. And so he married he’s up here in the Galilee he married the princess of NABBA. Tia, which was this kingdom down south of Israel. He did it to broker a pseudo peace or truce between himself and the king of Napa, Tia And it, it worked more or less. Now, shortly thereafter he falls in love with a woman named her Rhodius to multiple problems with that, two of which are her odious is married to Philip his brother, and is the daughter of another one of his brothers, which means that when he takes her Rhodius as his own shoes, his wife, his niece, and his sister in law, very complicated. Now, of course, this upset the princess of NABBA, Tia, so she returned returns down home to dad tells dad, the king of NovelTea Hey, this just happened. The Navi 18 King sends an army of 20,000 to cross and to crush and tapas and tapas hears that the king of nabooti is upset and is sending some some folks up to have a conversation, he sends an army of 10,000 that army is destroyed. And that satisfies the bloodlust of the King of nabooti. So they all returned home. And whatever soldiers were left limp back to the Galilee under and tapas. Let’s see how Jesus interacts with this. Luke chapter 14. In Luke chapter 14, Jesus is talking about counting the cost. Most notably, he’s saying, Look, this isn’t a story about easy believe ism and consumerism and quick tips, tricks and scripts. If you’re going to follow me, it’s going to cost you everything and turns out it’s the way to joy and flourishing not only for you, but for the whole world. So count the cost, don’t just say yes haphazardly. Let’s actually understand the cost of this, right? So he’s talking about this. And he says, you know, as an illustration, he says in verse 28, of Luke 14, for which of you intending to build a tower does not first sit down and estimate the cost to whether he seat to see if he has enough to complete it. Otherwise, when he’s laid a foundation and was not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him saying this will begin to build and it was not able to finish. He’s like, if you’re going to start a project, before you do it, you’re going to actually establish a budget right to make sure that you got enough to actually finish the project. Otherwise, you’re going to start it people are going to see the shell of it and think that man was a fool who started that project without considering the cost and people would have been like, yeah, like we get that Jesus. Then in verse 31, Jesus continues, he says, are what King going out to wage war against another king will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with 10,000 to oppose the one who comes against him with 20,000. So Jesus is like the first dude who doesn’t actually count the cost is a fool. And everybody’s like, yeah, that’s a fool. And then Jesus doesn’t just throw out another random illustration, he pulls from current events, he says, are which one of you like Herod and tapas would so drastically miscalculate the cost that he’d be crushed? What a fool and people would have been like Jesus Jesus, like, if you keep talking this way, you’re not going to be long for the planet. See, Jesus understood that hand turpis was perpetuating a way that diminished the image of God in others. And he stood diametrically opposed to any and every system. He was hard on system. But he was soft on people. You’ll see this in just a second. Now back to the story. So John is still in prison in the Galilee. And so he sends some of his followers to Jesus and says, Hey, I thought I was clear on who you were, but I’m still in prison. And I’m wondering if You’re the Messiah, then why am I still here? So John’s disciples come to Jesus with that message. And Jesus understands. He’s like, Yeah, I get it. But what I want you to do is I want you to tell John, the Baptizer, that prophecy about the Messiah is being fulfilled Lane people are getting up and walking, new people are speaking Deaf people are hearing blind people are seeing dead people are getting back up, you go tell John, that that I am who he thinks I am. Now, point of clarity. In this day and age, most people were illiterate. And there was lots of mandates against rulers, leaders, making anything with an image of their face on it, like we would have images of faces on our coins. And so instead, the rulers would choose different symbols, and they would have their coins minted with those symbols. And so what we found through archaeology is that the, the symbol that Herod Antipas chose was the Galilean read. It was very common and the thought was I want people whenever they see a read, to think of me, let’s look at, let’s look at Luke chapter seven. Luke chapter seven and verse 24. When John’s messengers had gone, and he’s gonna, they’re gonna go report to John what Jesus had said, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. He says, What did you go out into the wilderness to look at our Read, shaken by the wind. What then? Did you go out to see someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who put on fine clothing and live in luxury are in royal palaces. What then? Did you go out to see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and so much more than a prophet. He’s asking the people, did you go out into the wilderness to see a fraudulent power? Did you go out to see someone with no convictions and no character? Did you want to see a better power? A more interesting, holistic, fully cosmic power that had the potential to actually transform what did you call it the end of the desert to see did you go to see Herod and tapas someone with no convictions? Or did you go to see John, someone who’s living and narrating a better story? Now, this is out rageous courage. You don’t live long. If you’re saying things like this, because it’s going to trickle back to the rulers that be the things that Jesus were saying, also began to grow courage and others and it became outrageous to both antiphase in Galilee and arc Ullaeus in the Jerusalem area. Turn with me to Luke chapter eight, you’ll see what I mean eight verse one. Soon afterwards, Jesus went on through the cities and villages proclaiming and bringing the Good News of the Kingdom of God. The 12 are with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities. Mary called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Kusa, and Susanna, and many others who provide for them out of their resources. Here we get a picture of Jesus traveling companions, of course, there were the 12, but there were also women, one of which was a woman named Joanna. She was the wife of Kusa, who is the manager of Herod Archelaus his household, her livelihood was connected to her husband’s job, the salary that he made from Herod, Ark Ullaeus. Now, Joanna was so transformed by a Jesus not who perpetuated systems of power and dominance, but a Jesus who was self sacrificial, that it began to transform the way that she lived, and the way that she loved to the point at which she began to redistribute funds that she received from Arcalis to fund Jesus ministry. It’s like if you were to look at Jesus list of donors who Herod Archelaus would be in like the golden eagle club, Joanna, at high risk to her life and that of her her husband, redistributed finances because she learned to live sacrificially by watching and being impacted by the sacrificial courageous life, love and leadership of Jesus, that Jesus that she was following was transforming her life. And it wasn’t just Joe, Joanna, the movement was growing and growing and the threat to the both the political and the political systems was increasing as well. Let’s look at one final picture of Jesus Luke chapter 13. At this point, Jesus is on his way into Jerusalem for for the moment that we would call poem Sunday. He’s ascending from the Bethany side of the Mount of Olives, and he’s about to descend into the city of Jerusalem. Verse 13, starting at 31. At that very hour, some Pharisees came some of the power brokers came and said to him, Get away from here for Herod Archelaus wants to kill you. And Jesus said to him, Go and tell that fox for me, Listen, I’m casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow. And on the third day of finish my work see Jesus had relationships within the systems. He was hard on systems, but he was soft on people. These people love Jesus enough to come to him and say, if you come into Jerusalem, Arcalis is going to have you killed you’re that much of a threat. And Jesus says, You Go tell that fox that I’ll be here today I’ll be here tomorrow and on the third day, I’m going to have my victory. Now Fox carries the connotation of like sly and cunning but in Jesus day, a fox was the animal that would hide in the in the bushes and in the shade and they would watch a lion make a kill and eat its Fill and then walk away and then the Fox would kind of prance out stand over the kill as though the Fox had made the kill itself in Jesus day of Fox was a fraud a poser a mini me a wannabe, and he said, Go tell that fox Go tell that fraud and Arcalis believe me would have felt that sting you go tell that fraud that I’ll be here today, tomorrow. And on the third day, I’m going to have my victory the Defiance the magnificent defiance of Jesus who stood in diametric opposition not to the human but to the systems and structures that diminished the image of God in in others. What I find interesting though, is while he uses the fox to characterize hair doclet as listen to the animal he chooses for himself. Verse 33, scuze me verse 34. Jesus says Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it. How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chair brood under her wings, but you were not willing. See, he chooses a fox to depict Arcalis and a hen to depict himself. It’s interesting, right? A hen has no weapons, no teeth, no claws, nothing to defend herself. When a fox gets into a hen house. There’s only one way that a hen can defend her loved ones from a fox. And it’s simply this she spreads her wings and dies on their behalf. Friends, this is our Jesus. Not only did he spread his wings and die so that we could live He spread his wings to teach us how to live. Our Jesus is one who spread his wings and then keeps pointing to the cross not only as a declaration of His love, but as an invitation for you and I to live, love and lead. Likewise, that’s our Jesus. And that’s God’s word for us this morning.

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