Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah; “the spirit of the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives.”
Luke 4: 18
life-giving God, who sent your son Jesus to proclaim your kingdom and to teach with authority; anoint us with your spirit, that we too may bring good news to the poor, bind up the broken-hearted, and proclaim liberty to the captive, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Nehemiah 8:1 – 10
1 Corinthians 12:12 – 31
Luke 4:14 – 21
Jeremiah 1:4 – 10
Psalm 71:1 – 8
1 Corinthians 13:1 – 13
Luke 4:21 – 30
Epiphany 3 – Luke 4:14 – 21
Luke, the author of this years cycle of gospel readings, is a “second-generation” Christian. Greek by birth and physician by profession, he was a traveling companion of Paul, through whom he met Mark and perhaps Peter himself. He writes his gospel mainly for gentiles like himself. For Luke, this Jesus fulfils not only Jewish dreams but every people’s hopes for wholeness and holiness.
Luke’s Gospel reflects the scientist precision in locating dates, places and people; but Luke’s Gospel also exhibits an interest in people rather than ideas. His account celebrates the compassion of Jesus for the outcast and “second-class citizens” of Jewish society, including and especially women.
Luke begins his gospel and the classic Greece historical style by personally (he is the only one of the four evangelists who ever refers to himself in the first person) assuring his readers (addressed in the singular “Theophilus” Greek for “friend of God”) of the historical accuracy and theological authenticity of the research he has gathered to assemble this story.
According to Luke’s account, Jesus begins his teaching ministry in Galilee. Galilee – a name which comes from the Hebrew word for circle – was a great agricultural region encircled by non-Jewish nations and cultures, thereby earning a reputation for being the most progressive and least conservative area of Palestine. A teacher with a “new” message such as the Rabbi Jesus would be expected to receive a favourable hearing in the openness of a Galilean society.
Jesus returns to his hometown, the Galilean city of Nazareth. Nazareth was a city of great importance in Israel’s history and economy, located on the major routes to Jerusalem, Alexandria and Damascus. In the Nazareth that synagogue (the place where local Jewish communities outside Jerusalem would gather for teaching and prayer) Jesus announces, using words of the prophet Isaiah, the fulfilment of God’s promise of the Messiah for Israel.
Today we hear in the opening words of Luke’s Gospel his reason for compiling his gospel. He writes for Theophilus “so that [you] may see how reliable the instruction you have received.” The story of Jesus who comes to “the crying glad tidings to the poor… To announce a year of favour from the Lord” should make a profound difference in the lives of all who hear it. In his humanity, Jesus reveals a God who is approachable and present to us in all that is good and right and loving around us.
While Israel longed for a Messiah who would lead them to victory in vindication, Jesus the Messiah comes with a much different message of humility, reconciliation compassion and forgiveness. The “good news” of the gospel calls to become rather than to shun, to lift out rather than condemn, to seek the humble way of servant hood rather than the satisfaction of self – righteousness.
In the father’s son, Isaiah’s vision of a world transformed and reconciled in God’s peace and justice is fulfilled, in God’s Christ, God recreates us and our world in the light of grace and the spirit of compassion. In baptism we take on the work of “fulfilling” Isaiah’s vision of healing, justice and reconciliation in our own “civilizations.”
We make Isaiah’s vision our reality in our own Nazareth’s in every act of hope we make happen, in every kindness prompted by God’s grace. As witnesses of Christ’s resurrection, as baptised disciples of his church, we inherit the spirit’s call to “bring glad tidings” and “proclaim the Lord’s favour” to the poor, the imprisoned, the blind, the oppressed, and the helpless. © Connections/Media Works