I continued my sermon series this morning on why we pay attention to Jesus, based on the story told in the Gospel of Luke. This sermon (the seventh out of thirteen), called “Jesus’ Identity—And Ours” (and posted here), focused on Luke 7:18-23.
Jesus began his ministry by gaining wide renown as a miracle worker and powerful teacher. He drew crowds, and as this text shows, strong, respectful interest from John the Baptist (as well as a Roman centurion and Pharisee). Luke raises the question of Jesus’ identity in the context of telling of this interest. As John’s disciples asked him, “Are you the One to come.”
Jesus does not answer the question with a straightforward “yes” but rather answers in the affirmative by reciting the things he’s been doing, summarized with the series’ final clause: “bringing good news to the poor.” In doing so, Jesus points ahead to the big “fork in the road” at which he will arrive—where the choice is ministry by acclaim and success or ministry resistance and suffering.
Jesus, in taking the path of resistance provides a model for all his followers. We find our identity linking ourselves with God’s “preferential option for the vulnerable.”