“…He stirs up the people…” (Luke 23:5 – ESV)
If you’re from around here, or have lived here long, you know about our great traditions of cooking hog meat and pots of stew. Apparently these practices are not normal everywhere, but my belly sure does appreciate the normality of our local eating customs!
Every year my father-in-law, one of his friends, and his two brothers cook a stew on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The key to cooking a stew is a good recipe. Assuming you have a good stew recipe, you need a good crew of stirrers. One thing you do not want to happen is for your stew to stick to the pot! This is catastrophic! Thirty gallons of ingredients can be wasted if not stirred properly, but this same potpourri mixture of meats, vegetables and other stuff can be a wonderful treat if cooked slowly and stirred properly.
Funny…sometimes a good stirring is just what’s needed, with both stews and people.
The snippet of Scripture in today’s devotion is taken from the end of Jesus’ earthly life and it’s very appropriate for this time of year, even as we celebrate the beginning of His earthly life. This comment was made by the religious leaders of Israel who had arrested Jesus and taken Him before Pilate to be tried and punished. They had many complaints, but one of the main accusations was that Jesus “stirs up” people with His teaching. It’s true! He’s guilty!
It’s perfect that Jesus was guilty of stirring people up with His teaching because His whole life was about causing a stir.
The announcement alone that Jesus was going to be born of Mary’s womb stirred Mary and Joseph up in a terrible way. John the Baptist leapt in his mother’s womb at the very presence of the fetal Christ. God called a census through the Roman government that stirred up thousands of people as they were charged with being counted in their ancestral hometowns. He even moved critters out of barns just so He could be born!
An angel came down from heaven, announcing His birth to shepherds, interrupting their work. A multitude of angels joined the herald angel to worship Immanuel as He was being born. All of this ruckus occurred before the Christ Child set a tiny foot on the soil! He certainly was responsible for stirring things up!
The Christ Child made the star move and led Wise Men to Himself. He caused the scribes to search scrolls and ponder prophesies. He made Herod the king so nervous that Herod called out the troops to kill Jesus (they failed, but I guess you knew that). He made His family move from one place to the other until they settled, at some point in His childhood, in Nazareth.
Even then, as he grew to be a young man, Jesus astounded religious teachers and stopped the family caravan whilst they searched for Him.
When Jesus began His earthly ministry He really stirred things up. He made religious leaders insanely angry. He made demons run away by the hordes. He made sickness disappear and forgave sins, sometimes to the fury of religious system. He made political figures have to consider the worth of His ministry and the intent of His actions. He made people leave their jobs, forsake their sins, and transformed lives. He made sisters disagree and brothers switch allegiance. He denied Satan and embraced the down-trodden. He incensed the proud and healed the humble. Jesus turned society, the church, homes and the government on its ears!
Yes! He stirs things up! Even today, we can stand on Him as the cornerstone or be crushed by Him as the Rock of Ages.
Frankly, the truth is that if Jesus’ hasn’t stirred you, you’re probably stuck and in danger of being burnt. As for me, I am thankful to be shaken and stirred.