May 12, 2013
They did him homage & then returned to Jerusalem with great joy…. – Luke 24:53
These few words seem to gloss over a momentous recognition. The word ‘homage,’ according to Webster, is “anything given or done to show reverence, honor, or respect.” In this context it means more than that, & one translation specifically uses the word ‘worship.’ In other words, they did not have to wait for Pentecost to connect the dots. Before they could be fired up to go out & boldly proclaim the Gospel, the disciples had to recognize our Lord’s divinity. He was no longer merely a best friend, mentor, or spiritual director. They had come to the realization that in Him they were dealing the divine – nothing less.
This recognition is momentous for us as well, for it means that we cannot regard Jesus & His teachings as malleable to our own expectations. If He is indeed the Son of God, then He is to be obeyed not debated. In an age in which we are once again trying to make ‘man the measure of all things,’ this is a stumbling block to faith. To a devout Jew of the time, it was blasphemy. All too often to us, it is a quaint fiction. We in our arrogance have fallen prey to the same delusion that condemned Lucifer: we don’t God in our lives because we are His equal.
Here one is reminded of something Clarence Day wrote in His book, “God & my Father.” Recalling his father’s attitude & approach to prayer, he says,
“In moments of prayer, when he & God tried to commune with each other, it wasn’t his own shortcomings that were brought on the carpet, but God’s …. He expected a great deal of God … it seemed that God spoiled his plans … this aroused his wrath. He would call God’s attention to such things…. He didn’t actually accuse God of gross inefficiency, but when he prayed his tone was loud & angry, like that of a dissatisfied guest in a carelessly managed hotel.”
Somehow we’ve gotten our priorities all upside down, & then we wonder why the world is in such a mess.
Normally, when separated from someone we cherish deeply, we grieve. But the disciples were filled with joy. When they went back to the Temple in Jerusalem, it was to praise God, not mope & get all depressed. The difference was this momentous realization, & it is something we must achieve if our faith is ever to get beyond mere lip service & come alive in us.
What does the word ‘divinity’ mean to us today? Something beyond our grasp? But the whole point of the incarnation is (not was but is) to demonstrate that God is not beyond our grasp. Actually, it is we who are in His grasp, & that is an occasion for thanksgiving & praise. This is why Christians can afford to be optimistic about our world however horrendous events might be & however unpromising the future may seem. Such optimism is not based on any Pollyanna hope, but the concrete realization that Jesus lives & continues to give Himself to us.
For which we can only say, “Thanks be to God!” AMEN!