Monday, October 15, 2012

The Sign of Preaching

Monday: 15 October, 2012 –– 28th Week in Ordinary Time
Galatians 4:22–24,26–27, 31–5:1 /  Luke 11:29–32
The Sign of Preaching

One of the ways that God communicates is through something the Bible calls preaching. Preaching is given such importance in the Scriptures that we continue to do it today. This Gospel reading emphasizes the importance of preaching.

The crowd who tried to link Jesus with the devil had also asked for a sign from heaven. They wanted Jesus to provide some kind of flamboyant display to prove himself; his preaching and healing were not enough. Jesus' answer is that the sign they will get is, in one sense, the one God has always given. And what sign is that? It is the proclaimed Word of God. The added difference for these people is that the preacher was not merely Jonah or Solomon; it was the Son of God.

When the Queen of Sheba came to visit Solomon (you can read that story in 1 Kings, 10), it was the words which Solomon spoke that convinced her of the truth of Israel's God. When Jonah went to Ninevah, it was his preaching that brought the king and the whole city to repentance.

So, Solomon was one of the people God has spoken through in the past. Jonah was a preacher that God once called to give his Word. Then the Son of God himself came and gave God's Word perfectly and completely. Thus preaching today is distinct in one way: we preach Jesus Christ. He is the final Word. We do not go beyond what Jesus has shown, and we certainly do not want to stop short of what he has said and done concerning God's truth. Solomon's message was wisdom. Jonah's message was one of judgment and repentance. Jesus preached and modeled whole truth, and so our message today is Jesus.

Understanding, then, that God calls some people to the special task of preaching and honoring Jesus Christ, what might we expect to be the result?  Jesus gives the answer here. The words of Solomon were enough of a sign for the Queen of Sheba to believe. Jonah's words were enough of a sign for the Ninevites to repent. And now that the Son of God himself has come to give us God's Word, we have more than enough of a sign for our own faith. But that’s not always the result. Sometimes the Word is preached and people do not believe. There is no repentance, only a continuing in self-obsessed behavior. That was the case with the crowd surrounding Jesus. They heard the Word of God from Jesus himself, but it wasn't enough. The Queen had heard Solomon, and Solomon was enough. The Ninevites had heard Jonah, and Jonah was enough. The crowd heard Jesus, but the preaching of Jesus wasn't enough.

When we hear the Word of God proclaimed, it is a divinely appointed sign which calls us to faith. Again, the Queen heard Solomon, and Solomon was enough. The Ninevites heard Jonah, and Jonah was enough. We are privileged to hear the Gospel week in and week out. Is it enough? Are we holding fast to our Christian Faith in these troubled days?

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