Angie Larson, Alexandria, MN

Warm-up Question

Have you ever ordered something online and received something you didn’t expect? What was it?

What I Got vs. What I Ordered

On the internet there’s a meme out there called “what I got vs. what I ordered.” There are hundreds of stories of people getting something very different than they asked for. One man ordered a rug for his room but didn’t check the dimensions. He ended up with a rug that was no larger than a napkin. For her daughter’s birthday, a mom ordered a cake featuring  Elsa from Frozen; what came looked more like a scary orangutan. A bride ordered a wedding dress that came in with weird seams and didn’t fit her at all. The description was dramatically different from what she received. 

Sometimes in life we have this picture of what we want, but we receive something very different. We expect our year to go a certain way, but then circumstances change. We expect a friend to react positively; they react negatively. Perhaps we hope for a change that never happens. When we get something  different from what we ordered we find ourselves bewildered, disenfranchised, or lost. Or sometimes we just think it’s funny and post it to the internet. 

Discussion Questions

  • What is something for which you had hoped that ended up differently?
  • How do you feel when this happens to you? How do you react?
  • Why are we let down when things don’t turn out how we imagined?

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

Jeremiah 1:4-10

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Luke 4:21-30

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

Earlier in Luke 4 Jesus is invited to read the scroll in the synagogue. He unrolls the scroll to a passage from Isaiah 61, which talks about the coming Messiah. Jesus reads it aloud. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, freedom to the captive, sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then, after Jesus reads this passage, he proclaims, in his ultimate mic drop moment, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 

At first those in the synagogue are amazed by Jesus’ teaching but then they start to wonder where Jesus’ authority comes from. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” They hear Jesus’ words and can sense that there is something amazing about him. Yet, at the same time, they can’t reconcile their expectation of who the Messiah will be with the familiar person in front of them.

They wanted a mighty warrior, a powerful deliverer who would save them; instead, they get Joseph’s boy. He isn’t what they expected. Joseph’s son? In fact, God gives them someone so much better. God gives them God’s son, not just to deliver the Jews from Roman oppression, but to deliver ALL people from sin and death. There is much more to Joseph’s son than they imagined. And they aren’t sure they like it at all. In fact, they try to throw him off a cliff! 

Little do they know, Joseph’s son, Jesus, will save them all, will save us all. Jesus is much more than they expected.

Discussion Questions

  • How would you react if someone from your hometown claimed to be the Messiah? Why is it so hard for the Nazarenes to believe?
  • What surprises the people in the synagogue about Jesus?
  • How do you expect God to show up in your life? Have you gotten what you expected? 

Activity Suggestions

Google search “What I ordered vs. What I’ve got.” Share the best ones with your group and laugh about it. 

Closing Prayer

Blessed Savior, You’re so much more than we expected! You show up in the messiness of our lives to free us, to love us, to be with us. Thank you for being not what we anticipated, but so much more. In your name we pray.  Amen.