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Imagine with me: an evening in our home, two grandkids, Papa and Bonbon, and a storm. There were loud booms of the thunder and bright flashes of lightning and two little, scared kids cuddled up to my wife. I sat alone and across the room (no one cared to cuddle and calm me. Grandma Bonbon doing her best to still the anxiety of our grandchildren, suddenly spoke a contrast into their young minds. “You guys are scared, but look at Papa, he’s not scared. Don’t you want to be more like Papa?” To which the youngest answered, “No way…he’s old!” (I’ll remember that, kid, when your birthday rolls around!)

Jesus, the master storyteller, often used contrast to make his point. Much of his life in the Gospel of Luke is a story that moves from one contrast to another. For example, during a dinner, Simon the Pharisee, with all his pride and judgment, is suddenly contrasted by a sinful woman who is broken and humble. Jesus often used contrasting figures to teach us to put a mirror up against us and ask us, “Which one is more like you?” It is a master way of teaching.

More? Jesus’ use of light versus darkness. Good and evil! Things of worth versus things that are worthless. The wise and foolish builder . . . one builds on rock and one on sand. (Is there anyone reading this that thinks this is going to work out for the builder on the sand?) Jesus used these contrasts to make his sayings more vivid and memorable. He also uses them to add layers of subtle meaning.

Another example would be the two thieves on the cross. One is trying to side with the crowds by joining their verbal abuse of Jesus. The other wants to connect to Jesus and get the life after. Following the crowd is contrasted with standing apart from others. “Which one is more like you?”

There are several more. Why does Jesus do this? Why is this needed for my spiritual journey? Our February and March series will answer these questions. This series on “Contrast” will take us deep into the teachings of Jesus, and hopefully change us in profound ways. My excitement level is high for this series.
Please join us!

Ron Otto, Preaching Minister at Lincoln Christian Church


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