Thursday, March 22, 2007

Jesus the Underdog

Luke 2 is the second part of Luke's background story. It is really quite fascinating how Luke builds up to the last story of this second chapter. Chapter one ended with two thrilling songs - one by Jesus' mother, the other by his uncle - shouting out his thanks for his newborn son, John. And then Luke switches gears, shifting down from highspeed emotion to grinding historical detail. We catch our breath, read about the timing of the Lord's birth, and then Luke starts shifting up again, ever so gently.

First we read that pregnant Mary must make an ardous journey cross country.
Then we read that Jesus is born in a manger because his folks were too poor, too shunned to find a home in which to stay (they went to Bethlehem because its his ancestral town...somebody should have let him in to their house...but the scandal of Mary's mysterious pregnancy was too much for these folks).
Jesus comes from such humble beginnings that his birth is announced - not to kings, generals, senators, and wealthy landowners...but to lowly shepherds. Who spreads the news amongst the townsfolk? The kings heralds? The centurion's armorbearer? The town mayor? No, the lowly shepherds - men of ill repute and foul smell spread the gospel.
When Jesus receives his name after eight days, there is not citywide celebration. It goes unnoticed. When they go to the temple for Mary's forty day purification, they are met, not by temple authorities, religious leaders, or famous scribes - they are met by a righteous old man and a aged prophetess from an obscure tribe of Israel. And then they return to the no-good town of Nazareth.

So now Luke has perfectly set up his story about Jesus getting lost in Jerusalem during the Passover feast. This no-account Jesus, born in scandal and alleged illegitimacy, from a no-good town, heralded by filthy shepherds, welcomed by no one famous or now in the temple courts stunning the teachers and lawyers with his perceptive questions and and astute answers. He's just shifted into high gear, and we've just got our head jerked back...

Who is this kid?

He is the underdog. He is Lord of the Underdogs.

This Underdog would grow in brilliant wisdom, healthy stature, and controversial favor with other underdogs and the Creator and King of the Universe...who at times comes across as an Underdog.

Do you ever feel like an Underdog? Like your background, your past, your situations might keep you from overcoming all that is wrong in your life? Jesus is Lord of the Underdogs, and if you let him lead you, he can bring about redemption. And he can then use you to bring about redemption with the underdogs in your life.

Wouldn't you like that?

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