Grace and peace to you, from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
“It’s time!” What images come to mind when you hear that phrase, “It’s time”? I guess it depends on where you are when you hear it. Imagine you are in a prison cell on death row. “It’s time” are the most frightening words you could hear. Imagine you are in a dressing room waiting to be called on stage. “It’s time” might be the most exciting words you have ever heard. Now imagine you are a young married couple. It’s the middle of the night you are both asleep, and suddenly the wife shakes her husband and says, “It’s time!” Suddenly you are wide awake, running around, making sure you have your keys, finding the bag that has been packed and ready for weeks. It’s time to have the baby!
There are times in our lives when everything seems about to change. We are on the edge of something, some big change in our lives. Today in our Gospel reading, Jesus is at such a time in his life. Everything in his life has led to this one moment in time. Imagine his feelings, as he enters the synagogue, standing to read the lesson. For most of the folks there, this is just another Sabbath – time to come, once again, to synagogue to hear God’s Word.
As we gather each Sunday morning, what are we expecting of our time together? What is this time all about? We gather and see friends we maybe haven’t seen since last Sunday, talk about the events of the past week or plans for next week. We expect to sing hymns, hear God’s Word, listen to a sermon – just as we do every week.
Those of us who lead worship – musicians, lectors, pastors, or worship leaders are called to lead, in such a way that those gathered have an opportunity to be with God, to experience the presence of God in our lives. For that purpose, we follow a pattern. We gather, confess, and receive forgiveness. We hear God’s Word spoken and preached. We offer ourselves, our time, and our money, up to God to support the work of the church. And we share in the meal. And while our worship follows this pattern, it is still living worship because we are here participating. Without the congregation, there is no worship.
Our daily lives follow a pattern, or a routine, as we move through time: wake up, eat, go to work, come home, spend time with family, go to bed. For Jesus, this day, this Sabbath celebration was anything but routine. As we hear in today’s Gospel, Jesus has been teaching in the synagogues in Galilee, having returned from spending 40 days in the wilderness where he was tempted by the devil. He is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Now on this Sabbath, Jesus is at home, in Nazareth where he grew up. It’s easy to imagine Jesus might be a little nervous. “It’s time.” Time for Jesus to declare himself, to begin to reveal who He is. Life, for Jesus, is about to get pretty exciting. There will be amazing miracles, wonderful times of friendship and traveling, time for teaching and time for prayer. People will be fed, and healed.
And there will be pain and torture. Jesus will be abandoned, and reviled, and killed. All these things are waiting for Jesus as he stands to read the Scripture. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me: to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
As Jesus sits down to preach about this passage, all eyes are on him, the home town boy turned preacher. What will he say? Jesus’s sermon is short. "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Everyone present is so amazed at his eloquence, I think they miss the meaning of the words Jesus has said. Today it is fulfilled. It’s time. God is here, right here, right now.
The time has come to act, to begin living in the Kingdom of God. I think rather than praise Jesus, the more appropriate reaction might be, “What ? Now? But we’re not ready for this! We are comfortable with things just the way they are. Sure we call for God to come and save us, but here? now? in this guy, Jesus?
This is not how we wanted to be saved, Lord. Couldn’t you send someone more powerful? Someone with, say, an army? Because Lord, if this is the guy, If this Jesus is the Messiah, that means we have to stop pretending to follow your ways. We actually have to care for the poor and the orphan, instead of blaming them for their plight. Soon enough, the people of Nazareth begin to understand the meaning of Jesus’s words, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
That’s when the good people of Nazareth decide to throw Jesus off a cliff. His words and his presence are just too scary to be tolerated. In fact, Jesus’s words should make us pretty nervous too. “It’s time.” The Scripture has been fulfilled. And what are you – what am I – going to do about it? As Christians, we declare that we are saved. Jesus lived and died to destroy the power of sin and death over us. And right here in this Gospel reading, Jesus is challenging us – you and me – right here, right now, It’s time.
It’s time to start living as the saved people we are. No more excuses, no more putting off what Jesus is calling us to. If we believe we are saved, if we believe Jesus has defeated death, we better start acting like it. We better start feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for widows and orphans, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Not next week, not when we have a little extra time. It’s time here, now. We need to get going!! Amen.