Jesus Christ & Bruce Springsteen Were Right: Troubled Times Have Come to Your Hometown

Posted: May 14, 2015 in Gospel of Luke
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Luke 22:31-38 — And Jesus said, “but now, take your money, and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.’ [Isaiah 53:12] Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true.” Earlier, in Luke 10, Jesus told His disciples not to take money or a travelers bag and it certainly seems a contradiction for Jesus to tell them to buy swords. Is Jesus contradicting Himself? What gives? Well, Jesus is God in the flesh, so it is impossible for that which is perfect and that which is truth so there can be no flaw. Jesus, thus cannot be contradicting Himself. As Bible professors teach you every day in seminary, context, context, context. It is dangerous to take single verses and or single passages and use them in ways that are inconsistent with the context in which the verse or passage appears. So, let’s consider the context a bit with an illustration. In this day and age when there appears to be so many problems with the world, we often long for a time when things were simpler or were, at least, seemingly simpler. With all the complex aspects of my life today, with leadership at my day job, leadership at church, trying to be a good father and a good husband, trying to be a good small group leader, paying bills, taking care of property, house and home. You know, there are just some days you don’t want to be a grown up and that I just long for Hartsville, SC. Back then I was just 3rd and 4th grade preachers kid in a small town in early 70’s South Carolina while we lived there from 1970-72. Back then, my brother and I and our friends could hop on our bikes on Saturday morning and strike to see what the day held. We would ride all over the town of Hartsville. We would create adventures as we rode. We would be gone all day long sun up to sun down. In those days, in small town South Carolina, your parents did not worry where you were. It was a safer time then. Those days were so simple and so much fun. We did not have a care in the world compared to what life is like for me today. Don’t get me wrong, I love the life I lead today, but it is far more complex for me now than it was in 1970s Hartsville, SC. Back then, it was bike riding, playing football in the empty lot next to the parsonage. It was saving up allowance money for our Saturday adventures on our bikes with our friends. Easier time. Memories.

I think that is the context here. Jesus has already predicted that, under pressure, one of the disciples would betray Him and another would deny Him. Jesus reminds them of a simpler time. Jesus recalls to their mind easier, happier days. His command back then was to travel light and trust God to supply their needs through friends of the Kingdom who would welcome them into their homes. (Luke 10:1-9). The lesson they needed then was to learn complete dependence on God for provision for our lives. While they were gone in Luke 10, they had learned that God could and would meet their needs abundantly. “Did you lack anything?” Jesus asks. “Nothing” is their reply. But as Dr. Ralph Wilson says in his blog, Jesus Walk: Luke’s Gospel, “Times are changing. Now there is a different lesson. There are new marching orders.” None of us like change. The disciples didn’t either. Things were going really good. They had seen miracles. They had listened to Jesus preach the greatest sermons and lessons that they had ever heard. Jesus made the kingdom of God accessible to every day man. It all was just clicking. It was a season of blessing. But the winds are a changing my friend. There is an old saying that there are three kinds of people in the world – those that are about to enter into a time of trouble, those that are in a time of trouble, and those that are just coming out of a time of trouble. Jesus is saying to the disciples that, as Bruce Springsteen said in the song “Your Hometown”, “troubled times have come to your hometown.” Jesus is saying that the lessons learned in the hard times can be as important or even more important than the ones we learn when times are easy. We certainly learn where our weaknesses are in hard times. When times are easy, it is easy to be unprepared. Jesus’ ministry had not yet threatened the established Jewish and Roman order of things back in Luke 10 so it was easy to go unprepared.

There are times in our lives and in our service to Jesus Christ where we can go unprepared. When we are in those seasons of easy times, preparation is not necessary, things just happen. Like striking out on my bike on Saturday mornings in Hartsville, we do not know what was going to happen. It just did. But troubled times come to us all, we must be prepared. Jesus was not espousing violence when he said buy swords. He was saying that they needed the same amount of courage that carrying a sword gives a man. They were going to need that “bring it on” mentality that carrying a sword then and carrying a handgun gives a man today. Just think how much more confident you are about your ability to survive a bad situation when you are packin’ a pistol. That heightened level of courage is what Jesus is saying to them. But being the clueless disciples they are right up until Pentecost, they thought Jesus was being literal. Jesus and Bruce agree, troubled times have come and they needed to be ready for it. Jesus tells them that all that stuff that Isaiah was predicting about the Messiah, yeah, it’s all about to come true right before your eyes. All that stuff about the Messiah actually being a suffering servant who is mistreated and abused and killed for our sins, you are about to see it happen to me. The stuff is about to hit the fan. Are you ready for this? Do you have what it takes to withstand the coming hard times?

Just think, there is a day coming (and it is already beginning to happen) when being Christian will be a true liability here in this country. We are already headed down that road. Are you ready for the hard times? Do you have the courage for it? Will you fall away like the disicples on the night of Jesus’ arrest? When it counts, will you, will I, have the courage to say, “I stand with Jesus Christ. I do not care what you do to me. I stand right here and will not move until you move me.” It is easy to long for the easier time when it was easy to be a Christian. But, as Jesus was telling the disicples, those times are gone. It is time for the troubles to come. Are you ready for this? We now live in a land where it is starting. We can be fined now for standing on your Christian beliefs. Christian religious freedom is being taken away slowly but surely in the name of tolerance of everything. Christian freedom is being taken away while Muslims are given a pass in the interest of tolerance. Christians are being singled out for standing on biblical principles. Are you ready for this? Troubled times have come. No more riding bikes all over time without a care. Troubled times have come. Are you ready for this? Will you stand or fall? Will you proclaim His name in the marketplace? Will you say you know Him or deny Him? Will you stand by Him or scatter when it counts? Are you ready for this?

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