Principles Jesus Taught.5 – The Daniel Berrigan Principle

by admin on November 20, 2011

Reflections for 19 November 2011
Luke 9:18-27

Review Mother Theresa people not like you…..
Robert Schuller God majors in impossibility
Dallas Willard we grow through interaction and relationship.
Carl George how do I get in my own way?

Today the Daniel Berrigan Principle if you’re serious about this Jesus gig you better look good on wood. Bonheoffer in Cost of Discipleship: “when Jesus Christ calls a man he bids him come and die.” He meant this both spiritually (as in the power to forgive) and literally (as in when you do this you will get into trouble). Compassion has its critics you bring to question the power of violence.

Luke 9 is a most interesting piece of storytelling. Carefully crafted it brings together the question of Jesus identity and how that is played out in the life of discipleship. What you believe about Jesus has direct and stunning implications as to how you behave, what you think, and the direction your life will go. Once again we come up head to head with the question so eloquently posed by Peter Senge: is Christianity a body of beliefs or a way of life?

Jesus is the Messiah. This question is raised explicitly by king Herod is verse 9—JB, Elijah—these guys are all dead—who is this guy? Then it’s raised implicitly by the disciples misunderstanding in the miracle of feeding 5000. (We don’t have enough grub for us let alone them.) Now it’s posed by Jesus himself in v 18.

NB first century Judaism had no single concept of or agreement over who was the Messiah.

What Jesus does here is to link his question immediately with the inter-relationship between the nature of being Messiah and the character of discipleship. Tracking?

V18 Jesus is praying alone. In Luke prayer always accompanies something important. In this context he pops the question: OK, what’s the opinion poll say about me? They give the usual answer, and then Jesus turns up the heat and you? Remember this is a while different context from we considered last week in Matthew: Peter’s confession.

These queries into who Jesus is will be consistently followed up and answered in terms of what it means to be a follower and witness to such a Messiah as Jesus. Also in Luke’s mind is the bringing together of such titles and thoughts as Son of God, Son of Man, and Master (Lord).

Vv 21-22 Strict command to silence and then first passion prediction in a semi-creedal form.

V23 Immediately there is the conditional statement: if anyone still wants to follow—become my follower—they must deny themselves (that is to say: I guess I’m not god after all) and they must take up their cross and they must follow me—–whenever it’s convenient…right? Nope….daily. One day at a time.

V24 Irony at its best…great reversal (one of Luke’s favorite themes). To strive for your life is to lose it; to be non calculating will give you every thing.

V25 If the end result is really empty, was the worry worth it?

V26 Being ashamed is about denying the power of Christ in your life now. It about public confession, not hiding your light under a bush.

V27 Some present right now will see the glory of the Kingdom.

Better look good on wood.
1. All three synoptics have this story, but different timing. Is historical truth in question here? That misses the point. Since there were no videos, and even then, editing and photo shop can make “reality” seem what it’s not…….the thread of truthful activity is what’s most important. What is Luke driving at with this story?

Move from Galilee to Jerusalem would become increasingly perilous and dangerous. Why? Political alliances (Romans and Temple clergy) and religious confederations (Pharisees and Sadducees) would collude to destroy Jesus. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. It is Luke who makes mention that from Good Friday on, Herod and Pilate became good buds…..but before that “they were enmity with one another.”

Driving at? Into a swirling vortex of political intrigue Jesus is about to go.

Was Jesus naïve? The core of the NT tradition is that Jesus was an active agent here. He didn’t just stumble unaware into this snake pit of human cowardly behavior and evil. Jesus is active in proclaiming God’s righteous dominion and enacting the fulfillment of the Scriptural agenda he adopted back in Luke 4.

The spirit of the lord is upon me because he has anointed me (made me Messiah and Christ) to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim releases to the captives, the recovery of sight to the blind and to let the oppressed go free.

And all this has political consequences. Jesus words and actions are the foundational story upon which Christians declare this same Gospel message.

2. Jesus warns his disciples. Vv 23-27. Here we have five separate sayings linked together. They each could be remembered, memorized and recited apart from one another. They just might have been. Point here is that Luke puts them together to become a sort of commentary on the kind of peril and promise which loyalty to Jesus’ K of G project will entail. Almost immediately Jesus alerts the disciples (and all who want to follow) that loss of life for Jesus sake should be no surprise. This fits into the Kingdom’s way.

Jesus is too costly for business as usual. Business as usual is how we get into these fine messes, both individually and societal. For instance…..NCAA football is more than a fun Saturday afternoon. How would Kingdom ethics apply to that mess?

No doubt Luke’s community was being challenged by persecution. First century Christian persecution was not done by the legal governmental authorities, but more or less by neighbors harassing and bullying. Persecution could also be seen in terms of giving up, of being so overwhelmed with life’s difficult and sad issues that Christians wanted to run and hide…insulate themselves from poverty, sickness and despair. What’s the use?

This is where the Mother Theresa and Schuller principles come into play. You save the world one life at a time. Compassion fatigue is another topic for a later message, but the important thing to keep your eye of Jesus and the power of his resurrection.

The fact that Luke frames all this in terms of Jesus at prayer is significant. Divine guidance is absolutely necessary at this crucial juncture in the narrative. The passion prediction here is tied immediately to the charge of silence without even starting a new sentence—it’s one continuous thought. God’s way of pursuing Jesus Kingdom of God project will not conform to any one else’s plan.

Equally interesting is the beginning formation of the Christian creed. This is creedal material—I believe…… this gets played out is a matter of life and death.

Carry the cross daily. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for his Highest. 9/25 God does not build on any natural capacity of ours at all. God does not ask us to do the things that are naturally easy for us. He only asks us to do the things that we are perfectly fit to do through his grace, and that is where the cross we must bear will always come.

What might those things look like? On Wednesday I received a call from the clergy friend…..another pastor, his friend committed suicide. Wrenching call. I had met this pastor before……one can only wonder at what demons run havoc. I read the official synod communiqué: mental illness….severe depression. It was a washing of hands of responsibility. It made me think of the Bible’s biggest unanswered question—Am I my brother’s keeper?

More and more the church is sending the message that there is no room for flawed people. If Jesus died to save us all, how come it didn’t work for this pastor? It would be against official policy to include such degenerates and moral disasters.

Does God perfectly fit us through his grace to operate with a different plan? Christoph Blumhardt. There is no individual so outwardly and so inwardly degenerate that, when he encounters the Savior (want to follow) does not feel, “he truly wants me.” Immediately that person comes alive, and at the same time, discovers Jesus in his heart. Then there comes a sense of community, and after that—no questions are asked. Jesus never demands character references….The force of the good things in Jesus brings out the goodness in people.

Jesus is about making a redemptive community where the demonic presence of evil can be expelled in people lives and their goodness can come through. Where compassion and mercy are real and where hope and promise becomes the guiding stars of life.

Daniel Berrigan you may remember was a radical Catholic priest who actually brought to bear the ethics of Jesus in the political arena. He raised havoc with many; was at the top of the list of most wanted by FBI. He took to heart Jesus radical way of life. Biography: Disarmed and Dangerous. May you be that dangerous this week.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: