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Jesus, The Prophet of Prophets

???????In our last two posts on the incident at Nain, we discussed the importance of geographical study as something deeper than map investigations, and the importance of typology for an author’s theological goals, bringing meaning to his subject by portraying it in the contours and colors of meaningful things from the readers’ experience. Both the location and the way that Luke told the story of Jesus’ raising of the widow’s son play significantly in his goal to cast Jesus in the image of the great prophets Elijah and Elisha as helpers of the poor and healers, and in the image of the Prophet like unto Moses from Deuteronomy 18:15-18. This Mosaic figure is cast as both “every Prophet” and “THE prophet of “last days” hope.[1]

There are two main mistakes that preachers often make with gospels.

The first is that we tend to moralize the episodes of Jesus’ life. We see an event like the healing at Nain and we see a call for compassion (not a bad thing) we see evidence of God’s love for his people, His awareness of our needs (also good) but we often miss the theology of these events in regard to the hopes of the people among whom these events took place and to whom these gospels were written. Like the importance of Luke’s presentation of Jesus as prophet in distinction of his presentation of Jesus as messiah.

The second is that we tend to treat the gospels as windows to inspired invents rather than acts of inspiration themselves. Thus, we seek to harmonize the gospel accounts, gathering as many “facts” as we can to form in our minds a more complete picture of the event… then we preach that. Our own mental reconstructions become the source of inspiration rather than the record of the events in the context of each gospel. I call my course on Mark, “Meeting the Jesus of Mark” to emphasize the importance of Mark’s inspired and theological interpretation of Jesus’ life in distinction to Matthew’s, Luke’s and John’s.

Today, I’d like to return to the episode outside Nain, to consider how this incident works together with the stories around it from Luke 6:12-7:23 to preach a larger message than any of the events contained therein can preach independently.

In this unit, we have basically five pieces.

  1. Jesus Appoints the 12 to be his apostles (Luke 6:12-16)
  2. Jesus comes down with the 12 and has a miracle revival hoedown. Majestic power flowing from him to heal all. (Luke 6:17-19)
  3. Jesus addresses the 12 with a sermon about the status of things and their responsibility as his apostles (Luke 6:20-49)
  4. Jesus comes to Capernaum and being blown away by a Centurion’s wondrous faith, heals without presence. (Luke 7:1-10)
  5. Jesus travels to Nain, Elisha-land, raises a widow’s son from the dead. (Luke 7:11-17)

John hears about what Jesus is doing and sends to find out… “are you the one who is coming or should we expect another.” (Luke 7:18-23)

[1] See “The Inanity of Nain,” and “A Prophet in Nain: Luke’s Portrait of Jesus in 7:11-16.”

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