Jesus uses the Hebrew Scriptures to point to himself as the Messiah. Looking at 2 Samuel 7, it seems that not only does Jesus hail from the line of David, not only is Jesus the one who is called the Son of God, not only is Jesus the one who calls God “Abba,” “Father,” but it is Jesus that proclaims the divine “but,” which refuses to give sin and death the final say.
In his use of the Hebrew Scriptures to point to his role as God’s Messiah, Jesus probably would have used Micah’s prophecy. Micah, like the other prophets, promises one who is to come who will not rule through militaristic adventures and war mongering. He promises one to come who will be Savior, who will reign with peace and offer a new way to salvation.
What did Christ say to the disciples while walking the Emmaus Road? I wonder if the disciples walking down the path were bemoaning Christ’s absence and failure to fulfill their hoped-for vision of a Messiah, much like many of us as the faithful do today, lamenting that God hasn’t granted us what we expected or wanted in the Messiah. And yet, this is God-in-flesh.
In the parable of the bridesmaids, we always want to identify with the bridesmaids who made it in to the wedding banquet. But is that really the best option? Was that group really the best witness of faithfulness? It’s time we rethink this parable, and admit, that while we may identify with the prudent bridesmaids, having sufficient oil for ourselves, in reality, we’re just as foolish as the morons who forgot their oil.
The Bible is full of examples of what it means to ‘walk humbly with your God,’ and they help us understand what Micah is instructing to God’s faithful community. But walking humbly isn’t an isolated instruction. Micah’s instructions are offered as one word of guidance, and to be faithful, we must follow all three of them in tandem.
Micah calls the people of Israel to humbly walk with God. But what does a humble walk look like? Why don’t we start with humility … what is humility? Not an easy question to answer, but the Biblical witness gives us some guiding words.
To a nation that was broken with transgression, Micah offers three simple instructions. The second of which is to ‘love mercy.” As we hear the prophet speaking to us today, to a nation torn apart by transgression, what does it mean for us to ‘love mercy’ today? First, we have to know what is ‘mercy.’
Christ says, if you want to follow me, deny yourself and take up your cross. This is not a simple invitation. It is, as Peter found, a radical deviation from the powers and desires of empires. It invites a humility and willing vulnerability for the sake of the gospel.
Through acknowledgment of what is, by naming sin that exists, by naming our participation and benefit from sin, freedom becomes possible. Because of God’s love in Jesus Christ, we can claim our sin, we can be made new, and we can have a new life that exemplifies God’s love.
Listening is redemptive; it has the power to change lives and communities. If we’re going to see positive change in the world – if we’re going to see positive change in our own community – we have to start listening.