14Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. 16When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 18“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, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Topics: Fulfillment, Completion, Wholeness, Achievement
1. Do you worry when you hire a contractor the job won't get done?
2. What promises people made to you weren't kept? How did you feel?
3. How does it feel when yo finish something?
4. Can we be one with God before we die?
5. What part of God's work is finished in Jesus?
6. What major obligations have you fulfilled in life?
About once a week for about 15 minutes, I stand up and try to say something reasonable and moving about important things. Some Sundays I do this better than others, but at the end of the 15 minutes, there is a certain satisfaction from having completed the wrestling, no matter what the outcome.
We all have these experiences to a greater or lesser degree in our lives. We pay off the mortgage, we defeat the big boss at the end of the Nintendo game, we complete the big jigsaw puzzle, we finish giving birth to a child after long months.
All these events of completion and fulfillment began with an intention, a determination, promises to ourselves or others. In this morning's passage from Luke, Jesus proclaims the fulfillment of the promise of God. This is a big deal since God has made such big promises.
The Promises Established
Rainbow Gen 9:9 won't destroy earth
Abrahamic Gen 17:2 make a great nation
Davidic I Chron 17:11 davidic leaders
Mosaic Ex 34:27 follow the law and you will be my people
Messianic Isaiah will raise up a leader to bring about a new order
To suggest that the promises of God have been fulfilled just by the hearing of the word proclimed by Jesus, is an overwhelming message. It could have turned out badly. Other leaders have suggested that the mission was accomplished when it wasn't.
Our lives are full of things waiting for completion.
This complex idea of Fulfillment, Completion, and Achievement is in every part of our life:
• In fact, there is a whole school of psychology, gestalt psychology that says that we perceive and think in clumps that open and close our cognition.
• Commerce and civil is built on understandings of contracts and fulfillment.
• Relationships have a way of filling in the holes in our lives. Carl Jung and Jerry Maguire understand "you complete me" is what we say to another in clear moments.
• In education, we celebrate the finishing of programs of study from kindergarten to college with great pomp and circumstance.
• Our careers, at their best, are an attempt to achieve something in the world, to have an effect, however small, that gives a sense of fulfillment.
• We finish races and projects and resolutions with the feeling that this little part of our life is now a package.
• At then end of our lives, we put our things in order, so that the decks are clear, the lingering leaves, the clutter clears.
Look at the feelings of completion. When something is finished, we don't have to worry about it anymore. The account is settled, the anxiety over. We can move on to something deeper, something fuller. Fulfillment is peace.
It is no coincidence that these completions of our life are some of the most powerful things we can experience.
It is no coincidence that this sense of completion what God is about in Jesus.
At the end of his ministry, Jesus told his disciples "I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." (John 15:11) At his end on the cross, Jesus says, "It is finished."
God in Jesus is determined with the very force of life to bring us into completeness, to fill the God shaped hole in our lives.
“Finish then thy new creation, pure and spotless let us be.”
What we can do
But we are partners in this project of being fulfilled. This is why we work at the wholeness and completion of our own lives. This has implications great and small.
• We keep our commitments and therefore pick good ones that neither overwhelm us nor put us to sleep.
• We understand how finishing things can relieve anxiety and open us to new vistas. So we return phone calls, pay bills on time.
• We trust the fulfillment of God’s promises of security and love and therefore do not worry about the trivia of life. “Standing, standing, standing on the promises of God.”
• We can be called to the completion of God’s mission of justice that is complete in every moment, begun in every day.
Well the sermon is almost over, almost complete. It has been my attempt to show the fullness of life that God has worked at for us from the beginning of time. I’m not sure it did all that it could do, but I will walk down these steps with a sigh of peace. I wish that sigh for you in all your life.
(c) William H. Levering 2009