Waimea United Church of Christ

 

Luke 4:42-44            “The Purpose”

 

            Have you ever asked yourself “why?” At a certain stage in child development the toddler who has just learned how to speak discovers the word “why?” As soon as they do, they ask that question over and over again until parents become frustrated and tell them to be quiet.

            “Johnny, it is dinner time! Come to the table!” calls the mother.

            “Why?” responds little Johnny.

            “We always sit at the table at dinner together!”

            “Why?”

            “We have to eat food to stay alive.”

            “Why?”

            “Johnny, it’s your favorite: pseghetti!”

            “Why?”  and so on and so forth.

Eventually the parent teaches the child to stop asking why. That is how we all live the rest of our lives—not asking the simple question “why?” That is too bad for us. I think we need to be asking that question everyday of our lives. We need to understand why we get up every morning, why we were put on this planet, and even why we should have to die!

 

            What is the purpose of all this “life” stuff anyway? Some great philosophers have answered this question with great variety. The great science fiction author Michael Crichton believes that the purpose of the human race is to simply destroy itself, to cleanse the world of the human race, so that the next more advanced race can develop and take over the planet—very much like humans took over from dinosaurs.

            The great German writer and philosopher Goethe writes: “The human race is a monotonous affair. Most people spend the greatest part of their time working in order to live, and what little freedom remains so fills them with fear that they seek out any and every means to be rid of it.” Is our purpose merely to labor away in fear? Although I am German, I do not agree.

            The great American comedian Jim Carey wrote: “Energy is what I believe all of us are. We're just conscious awareness dancing for itself for no other reason but to stay amused.” Really? Could it be that our purpose on this planet is merely to amuse ourselves? Or, was Jim Carey just making another joke? I am not amused!

 

            Our scripture for today deals with this very question. I am sure that some of you were wondering why the reading today was so short. Usually the bible reading goes on for at least five minutes. Today it was less than minute I think. Jesus plainly and simply states this is the reason that ”I have come down from heaven to be with all of you on earth.” This is the purpose of the life of Christ. This is the crux or the key. This is the foreshadowing of everything that is about to happen.

            Are you ready now to hear it again? “To share with you the good news of the kingdom of God. For this purpose I have come!” says Jesus.

            Good news? What is that? Where do I tune in to hear that? Most of the time when we hear the news of the day, it is bad rather than good news. Right? Someone in Bible Study this last week pointed out that that is because bad news sells. It is true that our major news services are funded by commercials. They must sell commercial time in order to pay salaries. So, the people who want to advertise on news programs like bad news.

            Let me give you an example, if you tune into a particular news channel you may have noted that there are a lot of people trying to sell you precious metals, gold and silver. The commercial will tout the fact that the dollar is crashing, the economy is about to go into recession, so on and so forth. So, if you have just heard on that same channel about how bad everything is, you are more likely to buy precious metals, right? The more people who buy precious metals means that the price is more likely to go up, right? They are not going to be able to sell their gold coins to you if the next news story is about how well the economy is doing and how strong the dollar is. You are just not going to hear that story on the news because the news organization will lose one of its sponsors. Sooo, are we just getting true raw information on television, or are we being pressured to buy into a precious metals pyramid scheme?! Are we being sold out?

            Let me share with you some good news that maybe you missed this last week: A man at his own wedding saw a child drowning in a river, and even though he was wearing a tuxedo he jumped in to save the boys life. Here is another piece of good news, for the first time in history women are now allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. Another news story: a virtual armada of 21 US Navy ships is on a humanitarian mission to help the people of storm-battered Puerto Rico.

            Jesus has even better news for the world. To be honest, I am not sure I like the translation again from the Greek that our bibles call it “news.” It is so much more than that. The word in the Greek is ‘euangellion.” We get the word “evangelize” from this same Greek word. The word literally means to tell a good message, or to “send something good.”

            This is not like you get the morning news in the box at the end of the driveway. This is more like you have gotten a good message in the mail. Maybe it is an invitation to a party, a wedding, or a special function of some kind. This is indeed a special message that does not come everyday at 6pm on television. This is the invitation of a lifetime.

 

            I want you to consider for a moment everything that we have seen in our study of the Gospel of Luke. Jesus has been teaching in the synagogues. Jesus has been healing people. The word has gone out that Jesus can perform miracles. Even when he tries to slip away to be with God in prayer by himself again, the people go out looking for him. When the people do find him hidden away, Jesus responds with these words that we hear today: I did not come just to teach in your synagogues. I did not come just to heal you all in body. Jesus says, “My purpose in coming to you is to invite you into the Kingdom of God.”

            In those days, the general population would have understood that they lived in the Kingdom of Judea, with its King who was named Herod Antipas. And, they would have understood that King Herod himself was subject to the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus. Now Jesus was offering in essence a whole new country to live in! This was the invitation and message of good news: “You do not have to live under the rotten authority of Herod and Caesar. Come live with God under God’s authority!” The good news that Jesus is bringing is an amazingly radical idea.

            What ever authorities we think we have in this world over our lives, we should regard them as mere earthly authorities. We have a greater heavenly authority over us. This means that God is in charge over our lives.

            Let me share with you one of the oddest moments I have had with the new construction we are doing here for our fellowship lanai area. I got a call from a man one day asking when he could come over to the church on behalf of the county water district to sign off on the county permit to build. So, this was a couple of years ago already. I was a little confused because we had not built anything yet, so I was not sure what he would be inspecting.

            He explained to me that he was from Aqua Engineers and had been commissioned by County Planning Department to come in to count the number of faucets we had in the building now to compare it with the number of faucets on the drawings that would be installed in the new construction. He wanted to arrange with me a time to come out so that I could open up Baird Hall so he could count the faucets. He further explained to me that with every new water fixture in a building puts more stress on the county water system, and that is why they needed to make a report as to the impact on the water system in Waimea.

            I explained to him that there would be no change in water usage, he told me he still had to come out to count the faucets. Then, he told me that his doing this was simply part of the process of being permitted to build and really only added $400 dollars to the cost of the permit. After all, he was from Aqua Engineers, and this was their rate for doing this necessary inspection.  

            We made the date for the following week. When he came out, I toured him through the building. He then noted that the architect had drawn only one sink in each of the bathrooms, when today already existed two. So, by the plans, we were actually losing faucets, which means there would be a positive impact on the county water system after all.

            Then, I mentioned to him that the architect had made a mistake. He did not care. On paper, and that was all that mattered, we passed the inspection with no impact.

            The fellow must have gauged the look on my face at that moment and had his heart somehow affected by the Holy Spirit. He said, “I am just going to sign off on this and not bill you guys.” We never did get that bill. Thank you, Jesus.

            As a pastor the whole time during this “being subject to the authorities of the time,” which is correct by Romans 13, I am hearing the story of Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman (check out John 4). Jesus promises her the “living water.” John 4:13 “Everyone who drinks of this water that I give will never be thirsty. The water I give them will become a spring gushing up to eternal life.”

            My mind went back to Moses in the Sinai striking the stone and Elijah in the wilderness during the drought. The creation story where there are four rivers and multiple springs in the Garden of Eden. I recalled the reference to the kingdom in the end time with the river running straight through it (Check out Revelation 21-22). Here is my point, brothers and sisters, Jesus never came to count the silly faucets or to just sign off on the paperwork for the human race. Jesus came to invite us into that place of living water with God—into His Kingdom.

 

            Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that for all things under heaven there is a purpose. What is our purpose? It is what God created us for in the first place. We are to be with God. Be in His Kingdom. That is why Jesus came, to be with us—God with us—once again and to invite us to be with God in heaven once more.

 

Amen