Loving Beyond Boundaries
By Natalia Terfa
Day 1 of 5: Jesus’ First Sermon
Luke 4: 16-21 (NRSV)
If you are a regular church attender of a lectionary based congregation, you may already know that we are spending this year in the Gospel of Luke. Luke’s Gospel has a lens (as do we all) and Luke lets us know pretty early on what he thinks the Gospel, the good news is all about. In many ways, Luke’s Gospel is the most clear about it’s lens, and it’s hard to read any other chapters in Luke without starting at Jesus’ first sermon.
In Luke’s fourth chapter, Jesus is in his home synagogue, and gets up and reads from a passage in Isaiah 61:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
This passage from Isaiah is one that everyone in the Synagogue would know, and you can almost picture them leaning forward to hear what Jesus is going to say about it. Jesus says, “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
In one of the shortest sermons ever preached, Jesus basically says, “this passage you all know so well, about the Messiah you have been waiting for? That’s me.” And then he sits down and everyone gets upset and runs him out of town.
Now usually we hear sermons and messages about this verse and they focus on the fact that the people don’t want to hear what Jesus has to say. We also focus on how he’s in his hometown, how people have preconceived notions that they can’t hear around. The point usually being, they aren’t ready, they can’t believe it, etc. But I think maybe the bigger point that Luke’s Gospel makes here is that Jesus plays his hand early. You want to know what God is about in the world? Here it is: good news to the poor, release to the captives, sight to the blind, freedom for the oppressed, proclamation of favor upon those who have been laid low.
This is good news. It’s particularly good news if you are someone who has been on the outside, been brought down, been kept down, or been held captive by any number of things literal, physical, or mental.
When Jesus shows up and preaches his first sermon, he doesn’t mince words, he doesn’t play it safe, and then he spends the rest of his short ministry showing everyone just what this looks like in action.
We’ll get to that tomorrow.
Questions for further thought: Who are some people that fit these categories of who God is for today? How might you partner with God in being for and with the poor, blind, captive and oppressed?
Meditation Verse: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.