Donald R. Elly, M. Div.
Jesus, Luke reports, declares directly what God wants him to do.Empowered by the Spirit Jesus finds God’s purpose for him described in the words of Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor…sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
These hopeful words were first declared in 538 BC for those who had been captive in Babylon, providing a blueprint for restoration and hope. For Jesus these words mirrored the design of God’s reign for the people living under Roman occupation and continue to speak to those who are marginalized, pawns of the rich and powerful.
As the Son of Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ words amazed his listeners who understood them as gracious. But Jesus did not stop there. He provided further illustration that these words were not just good news to Israel but that God’s reign is to expand to the gentiles. Remember the Widow of Zarephath who ministered to Elijah and Naaman, the Syrian enemy who was healed by Elisha. The people who had been comforted by his words become enraged and wanted to kill Jesus. This foreshadows Jesus’ later suffering at the hands of religious authorities who get the Romans to murder Jesus.
When scripture is fulfilled we are reminded that while it may be good news, it may bring about rejection and suffering, but God does not abandon us. Secondly, scripture as it is fulfilled may by the power of the Holy Spirit unfold a vision of healing and hope that is not ours to control. Could it be that loving enemies requires us to see them as God does—those in need of healing, hope and God’s love. Just as Jesus challenged his disciples not to be comfortable but to stretch beyond what we know to let God make all things new.
Prayer: God, help me to step out in faith when you call me to unfamiliar territory. By following you I am surrendering to God, your Father who makes all things new. Help me to read Scripture with your eyes to see the Holy Spirit at work. Amen.
February 3, 2019; Cycle C; Sunday of Epiphany
Jer. 1:4-10; Psalm 71:1-6; 1st Corinthians 13:1-13; *Luke 4:14-30