Bible Reading: Luke 4:1-32
If we are not careful…God will show up right in our midst and we will miss Him, completely. Why? Because He doesn’t fit our picture of God. We need to give our children a clear, compelling picture of what God is really like. A picture that isn’t based on our concepts…but on the Bible’s revelation.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
Have you ever heard the poem…
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Sybil Ludington…?
“Who? Who is Sybil Ludington? What poem is that?” Those are good questions.
I don’t know if you have studied the American Revolution in history class, yet. But in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was written, our country was still a part of Great Britain…at least, much of it was. Beginning several years earlier, around 1765, the people who lived here had grown tired of being controlled by a country on the other side of the world and having huge taxes put on everything. They had tried to work with the British government…but got nowhere. So they tried protests and boycotts…no change. It just worse, and worse. Then, the British government decided that some of the colonies were in rebellion so they sent military troops to put an end to it. The colonists felt that they had tried everything they could do and it had not worked. They’d had enough. So finally, they revolted. 12 of the colonies formed their own government called the Continental Congress. This made the British furious and their military started attacking the cities where the colonists lived.
The British began sending more and more of their military troops and navy ships to America to stop the revolution. There were no telephones, or radios, or telegraphs back then to warn the colonists when the British were about to attack. About the fastest way that they could alert a town that the British were coming was to send a messenger on horseback.
That brings us to the poem. On April 18, 1775, the colonists received information that the British were about to attack an area northwest of Boston, Massachusetts. Local leaders decided to alert other colonies of the danger so they sent messengers on horseback. They sent several men in different directions to warn the colonists who lived along those routes…
- Israel Bissel was sent along a 400-mile route that took him 5 days to ride
- Samuel Prescott was sent along a route that led to Lincoln, and then Concord, Massachusetts
- William Dawes was sent along one route that would wind up at Lexington, Massachusetts where he was supposed to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock (leaders of the revolution)
- Paul Revere was sent along another route that would also wind up at Lexington, Massachusetts where he was too supposed to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock.
Revere made it to Lexington first and warned Adams and Hancock. Not much later, Dawes arrived. The two of them then decided to go to Concord. Along the way they ran into Prescott and the three of them continued together. Suddenly, six British soldiers surrounded them on the road. Prescott managed to escape, but Dawes and Revere were captured. Later that night, Dawes escaped and rode on to warn Concord. The next morning, after questioning him, the soldiers released Revere. But, they kept his horse and he had to walk all the way back to Lexington.
So, you’re thinking, “Okay, that’s interesting, but you still haven’t told me about Sybil Ludington. Who was she and what did she have to do with all of this?”
Sybil Ludington was the 16-year-old daughter of a colonel in the American army. She was sent along a 40-mile route to warn the colonists of the British attack. Just like the men, she had to ride on horseback. But, she had to ride side-saddle…over rough roads and countryside. By the time she made her ride and returned home…she had raised over 400 soldiers who joined the Continental army. This army would chase the British out of Connecticut. She became a local hero and even George Washington would later recognize her heroic effort.
But the poem doesn’t really include her name (I made that up). Written in 1860, by a man named Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the poem was titled, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” He got several of the facts about that famous night wrong. And, by making Paul Revere the hero of the poem and not even mentioning the efforts of the other people…the rest of the riders have been almost completely forgotten. Here is how the first stanza of the poem actually goes…
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
Why did Longfellow write it that way? Hmmm, “Revere” rhymes with “hear” and “year”. Can you name a single word that rhymes with “Ludington”? Maybe that’s the reason. It could be that he just liked the idea of making Revere the hero. Or, maybe he thought it would be too confusing to include everyone’s name. Who knows why he did it? We just know that he did. But there is a sad result. The rest of those riders…who were true American heroes…have been almost completely forgotten. If someone went to a July 4th party dressed up like Paul Revere…almost everyone would remember who he was (or at least who they thought he was) because of the poem. But, if someone dressed up like Sybil Ludington…”Who, who is she?” They wouldn’t even give her a second glance. Why? Because they would be looking for someone else to be the hero of that night. She didn’t fit the description of the person they had been taught was the hero of, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”. Sybil, who?
Not long after Jesus began His public ministry He went back to His own hometown, Nazareth, for the first time. It was the place where He had grown up. Saturday was the day that the Jewish people worshipped and was called the “Sabbath”. Every Sabbath Jesus would go to worship at the Synagogue along with the other people. On His first Sabbath back in Nazareth He went to the Synagogue. The leader of the Synagogue gave Him a copy of the book of Isaiah. This meant that he intended for Jesus to read a passage from Isaiah and then give an explanation of it. Jesus read a passage from Isaiah (61:1-2) that spoke about the coming of the Messiah. Then He said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” In other words…Jesus was saying that He was the fulfillment of that passage. He was the Messiah.
You could hear the people gasp when He said that. “Did He say what I thought He said? Did He actually say that He is the Messiah?” They couldn’t believe it. They knew who He was. He was Jesus. Joseph’s son. They had watched Him grow up since He was a kid. He had played in the dirt with their children and gone to school with them. He was the carpenter who had made their furniture. But the Messiah? He’s gone nuts! That’s what they were thinking.
Jesus knew. He knew exactly what they were thinking. So, He said,
Right now you’re thinking about the old saying, “’Physician heal yourself before you start trying to heal other people.’ Start there.” And what you mean is that if I was going to announce that I am the Messiah…I should have done so in My own hometown before doing so in other cities, like Capernaum. I should have started here. But the problem is that you would never have accepted Me…no matter where I started. Prophets in the Old Testament were never accepted by their own people…and I won’t be accepted by you.
Boy, that made them mad. Because, He was right. There are a couple of possible different reasons why the people of Nazareth didn’t accept Jesus.
- One could be that they thought, ”If God was going to choose someone from Nazareth to be a prophet, then why didn’t He choose me, or my son? We would be as good a prophet as Jesus would be.” They were jealous.
- Or, it could be because they were embarrassed. All those years Jesus had been there and they had not realized who He was. In other words, they didn’t understand much about their own religion. It made them look bad.
- Maybe they were angry because Jesus had already been performing miracles and announcing His arrival in other cities. Now, He shows up in Nazareth and the people think that He has mistreated them. They should have gotten more attention.
Whatever reason they might have given…the real problem is that they didn’t recognize that Jesus was a prophet, the Messiah, because He didn’t fit their description. They had another whole idea about what the Messiah was supposed to look like, what the Messiah was supposed to do, and where the Messiah was supposed to come from. And Jesus did not fit their picture. So, when He came…they refused to accept Him.
Here is the lesson: Don’t ever try to tell God what He should do, or how He should do it. If we are not careful…we will make up our own mind about God…and not let God make our mind up for us.
- We decide what we think we should believe.
- We decide how we think that God should answer our prayers.
- We decide the way that we think that we should act.
Each of those things says something about what we believe about God and what He would say about them. Then, if God shows up, and doesn’t agree with what we have already decided…we may miss Him, altogether. We may reject Him…just like the people of Nazareth rejected Jesus.
So, where do we learn about God? From the Bible. Everything you will ever need to know about God is right there. Anything that anybody ever says about God must line up with what the Bible says. If it doesn’t…don’t believe it. It is wrong. God has given us a perfect picture of Himself in the Bible. The more you read it…the more you will learn about Him and the better you will know Him. So, spend some time with God, today. Read your Bible. That way, when He is working in your life…you will be sure to see Him.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,