…Monday morning I opened my Bible to read the Gospel lesson (Luke 9.51-62) for this Sunday, the 6th Sunday after Pentecost, and I was reminded once again that Jesus is unpredictable. As we encounter Jesus in the Gospels we find a person who is difficult to put our finger on. Just when we think we’ve got him figured out, the page is turned and a new level of grace is revealed that causes us to consider that while this grace is free, it is also costly. We find out soon enough that the grace we sing about that is so amazing as to “save a wretch like me,” to make me who was lost to be found, to make me who was blind to see, is also the grace that, if we want to truly know and experience it fully, demands us to part ways with seemingly everything we hold dear in our lives.

For James and John, it was their triumphalism. They thought now that they knew Jesus was the Messiah, he’d be doing the sort of radical things they knew about in their Bible. They thought he’d be like the Elijah of old who had called down fire upon his enemies. So, not altogether unlike the demons’ plea for Jesus to permit them to enter the swine from last week’s passage in Luke 8, James and John beg for Jesus’ permission to call down fiery judgment on those who oppose them or are  non-hospitable to them on their journey to Jerusalem. Yet Luke says Jesus rebuked that attitude, as though he were casting out the demon of their judgmental-ism…

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