Sermon for June 9, 2019
24“Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.”
The words of Jesus are like a sign on a road during a long road trip, directing you to something you see as a journey to a destination. We see such a sign, the words referring to where we think we are to go, and often take it at face value. “500 miles to San Diego”, we see. Our minds skip ahead to San Diego. The sign, however, isn’t merely about San Diego, a literal description, a destination. The message contains the totality of the journey, the infinite points along the path, infinite worlds contained in the smallest of measured steps along the way. Woven in the layers of a simple sign are infinite opportunities to find Truth, from the start, along the path, to the destination, and at the literally infinite points in between. That 500 miles could take a few hours, or infinite lifetimes. A seemingly simple sign might lead you beyond your wildest imagination.
In a similar way, when Jesus speaks, the layers of Truth are infinite. The verse above could inspire sermons for me until I die, if my mind and spirit were up to it. One can read the verse, just like the sign on the road, and take it, for the most part, at face value. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. One might simply heed this bit of wisdom and understand the pitfalls of a prophet in his hometown. There is usefulness in “Danger Ahead” kinds of signs that are fairly literal.
There is also value in delving into the truths of asking why a prophet is not accepted in his hometown. We could discuss the tendency of people to see the person they once knew, the personality and ego, the imperfections of an individual they were very familiar with on a common, day to day level, which cloud their ability to see this new person, the PROPHET, who transcends their former self. There are many layers of 'why's' here to be explored- and there is nothing wrong with this exploring these levels of truth either.
What is Jesus primarily concerned with, however? He is concerned with salvation. Whatever layer of truth we are prepared to see, Jesus is concerned with our ultimate salvation. Take 100 travellers on the road to San Diego and we’ll find 100 different ways to travel the path. Jesus, however, wants to lift us up and show us the infinite Truth of the whole thing.
When we are talking about salvation, we are ultimately turning our awareness inward. Jesus will bring us back from an obsession with the outward world and refocus us on the source of our suffering. We can see this when He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. The devil tempts with the outer world, Jesus redirects back to the source of our true identity, to our inner base, to God.
Now, let us go back to the verse. See your true self as the prophet. See the hometown as your ego, your individual self, your idea of who you are and everyone else’s perception of who you are. Now, think about the idea of “the mystery of Christ within”. Before reading on, think about these things for a time. Meditate, pray, ponder, whatever you choose, but stop and consider.
The mystery of Christ within is a Truth that no idea, concept, interpretation, could ever answer. It can only be something we realize we are. I offer this caveat because what is written here is just another sign and cannot be taken as the actual path. Having this in mind, we’ll continue.
The reason we are seeking, that we are trying to find, be saved, understand the mystery of Christ within, is because we are trying to use our ‘self’ to find our ‘self’. We are the hometown trying to see the prophet, who is our true self. WE ARE ALREADY SAVED BUT WE CAN’T SEE IT!
We assume that we know who we are, on such a subtle level, that we ‘will’ an individual to be. It is that idea of separateness from God, our feeling of being used to ourselves as a mere individual, that fools us into missing our true nature. It’s as if Jesus’s neighbor from childhood passed him in the street, seeing only his friend and not the Saviour, and merely greeted him with a, “Hey, buddy”. We do this to ourselves all the time. We greet our surface self, the person you think you are, with a, “Oh, it’s you again. I’m seeking something else” when we are, quite literally, staring back at God and just can’t see Him.
Can you see the layers of truth Jesus is giving us here? He is, at the same time, giving us some worldly spiritual guidance while, at the same time, giving us a clear vision of our salvation. If we were to truly be what Jesus is pointing to here, go beyond a mere understanding of it, it is the end of suffering.
In this one verse, Jesus has opened the door for us. One small verse, perhaps read over and over, maybe just a sentence along someone’s goal to read the Bible from start to finish, could end our seeking, suffering, longing, journey to salvation, in a flash. If the awe of that is not enough, maybe you are ready to step through the doorway and allow the rest to follow.