Sunday, February 3, 2013

Enter into the stories of Luke’s Gospel (4:14-21)

My son’s school has provided him with a weekly Bible reading on Luke’s Gospel. Since I really like this Gospel, I have decided to (try to!) write a reflection on each of the readings.

The first reading is Luke 4:21-30. But I think we should take one step back to look at 4:14-21 first. Here is the text.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (TNIV)

The passage before this one is Luke 4:1–13, and is about Jesus being tested by the devil. Jesus overcame the devil’s scheme. Then in 4:14–21 we find him reading Isaiah 61:1 (and 58:6) in a synagogue in his hometown Nazareth. It seems to me that most likely he is saying that he is the Anointed King anticipated by the prophets. That is, he is the anointed son of David, the messianic King.

I find this passage very encouraging. Jesus says that the promise in Isaiah 61:1 (and 58:6) is fulfilled in him. That means, Jesus himself is the one who proclaims good news to the poor. The blind will see and the oppressed will be set free.

We see throughout Luke’s Gospel that Jesus has indeed come to set the oppressed free. He heals the sick, and the poor hear the good news. Indeed, in Luke’s Gospel we find that Jesus has come to gather a community of disciples who will follow his way of life, and that this community includes all sorts of people, not least the poor, tax collectors and sinners.

Imagine we were there

Let us imagine that we were in the synagogue where Jesus spoke. Imagine that we were among those who were in need. Imagine that among our friends there were those who were economically poor, or oppressed because of their inferior social status. Wouldn’t it be good news that Jesus had come to bring us good news?

We live in a world out-of-joint. There is evil in this world. But Jesus has overcome the work of the devil (as demonstrated in Luke 4:1- 13). He is the Anointed King of God, and he has come to proclaim that the kingdom of God. This is good news indeed!

Next time we will take a look at Luke 4:21-30.

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