Thursday, March 23 “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me . . .”

Scripture: Luke 4:18-28

“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,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 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. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

23 Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”

24 “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy[b] in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”

28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.

Some thoughts:

Can you imagine what it would have been like to be a Jew in Nazareth and go to synagogue and have this scenario happen? The hometown boy, one whose family you knew well, got up and read this particular passage of Scripture. He had been traveling around speaking at several synagogues in the area and had become quite famous. Rumor has it he did some miracles. Now he was back home and went to his own synagogue to read. Part of every service involved reading the Scripture from the scrolls. On this occasion, one of their own, stood up to read. Rabbis would stand to read and then sit to offer an interpretation.

However, he surprisingly read only part of what he was to read, stopping at “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” What he said next was in fact astounding! Jesus said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The people of Nazareth were astonished, then enraged, and then drove Jesus out of town attempting to kill him! Someone they had known from growing up days, claimed to be the anointed Messiah, God, and the fulfillment of what Isaiah the prophet had written some 700 years earlier!

There is a principle here worth noting. The Jewish people had a tight system of belief and understanding of the Law and the Prophets. Their understanding of the Jewish faith was very clear in their minds. Among one great truth was that God was a spirit. They thought they   understood this aspect of God. Also, central to their thinking was that God was only for the Jewish people. They believed they had the inside track to God’s favor. One needed to become a Jew in order to gain God’s favor as one of his children. When confronted by Jesus with the truth that salvation was extended to pagans and Gentiles and that he was God in human flesh, they erupted in explosive anger.

Here’s the principle I’m reminded of in this famous quote, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” I’m wondering how often we presume, even subconsciously, that we know what God will or should do. We understand what we believe pretty well. But is our understanding too presumptive? Why are we surprised when his ways are not our ways. My guess is that there are times when God is working in our midst, and we don’t even recognize it. I’m reminded in this pericope that I need always to rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance and not what I am so sure about what I know about God.

Film Clip: Jesus reading this very passage in the television series The Chosen. DON’T MISS THIS.

Music: “We Come, O Christ, to You”    Grace Community Church

Prayer: Lord, help me to spread your fragrance everywhere I go – let me preach you without preaching, not by words but by my example – by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to you.

                                                                                                –John Henry Newman, 1801-1890