Jesus laid out his “agenda”

Posted Nov 25, 2019

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Daily Scripture

Isaiah 61:1-3

1 The LORD God’s spirit is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me
    to bring good news to the poor,
    to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim release for captives,
        and liberation for prisoners,
2     to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
        and a day of vindication for our God,
    to comfort all who mourn,
3     to provide for Zion’s mourners,
    to give them a crown in place of ashes,
    oil of joy in place of mourning,
    a mantle of praise in place of discouragement.
They will be called Oaks of Righteousness,
    planted by the LORD to glorify himself.

Luke 4:16-21

16 Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been raised. On the Sabbath he went to the synagogue as he normally did and stood up to read. 17 The synagogue assistant gave him the scroll from the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to preach good news to the poor,
    to proclaim release to the prisoners
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
    to liberate the oppressed,
19     and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

20 He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the synagogue assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed on him. 21 He began to explain to them, “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled just as you heard it.”

Reflection Questions

Jesus went home to the village synagogue where he had grown up. He read from Isaiah 61, in which God’s servant said he had a mission to “preach good news to the poor…to liberate the oppressed.” Then Jesus said, “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled,” claiming that mission as his own. Rev. Jim Wallis has said, “Followers of Jesus Christ must understand that every person who walks this earth possesses the image of God. For this reason, racism, sexism and homophobia are an assault on that very image of God.”*

  • Jesus quoted from (and adapted) Isaiah 61:1-3 in Nazareth to define his mission. “To preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor” has a nice poetic ring. What can you do each day to live into the meaning of those words in life’s gritty, unpoetic, day-to-day realities?
  • After Jesus spoke, his hometown hearers tried to kill him for reciting times when God reached far beyond Israel’s national and ethnic borders (Luke 4:24-28). Scholar N. T. Wright described Jesus’ message: “The servant-Messiah has not come to inflict punishment, but to bring the nations God’s love and mercy. That was a central theme in Israel’s own scriptures, yet… Jesus’ claim to be reaching out with healing to all people… was not what most first-century Jews wanted or expected.”** Does it inspire or frustrate you that Jesus loves and invites all people, not just those of your denomination, country or race?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, Cory Asbury’s song “Reckless Love”*** says, “There’s no wall you won't kick down, lie you won't tear down coming after me.” Grow me into your partner in kicking down walls and tearing down lies that keep people from you. Amen.

Did You Know?

Resurrection's Downtown campus celebrated 10 years of ministry on Sunday! Click here to see video testimonies, photos and other information about the anniversary.

Resurrection's Overland Park campus dedicated their renovated Food Pantry Sunday. The Pantry serves roughly 400 people with several thousand pounds of food and other household items each month.


* From an online video at https://www.facebook.com/SojournersMagazine/videos/510587169792795/.

** N. T. Wright, Luke for Everyone. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, pp. 48-49.)

*** “Reckless Love,” written by Cory Asbury, Caleb Culver, Ran Jackson. © 2017 Bethel Music Publishing (ASCAP) / Watershed Publishing Group (ASCAP) (adm. by Watershed Music Group) / Richmond Park Publishing (BMI). All Rights Reserved.

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Roberta Lyle

Roberta Lyle

Roberta Lyle has been on the Resurrection staff since 2006. She serves as the Program Director for Local Impact Ministries, concentrating on Education, Life Skills and Youth Focused Ministries.

One of the great benefits of writing a GPS insight post is the knowledge I gain from looking into the context of the Bible verses that I'm commenting on. I've read or heard today's verse from Luke many times and I assumed that Jesus' first sermon to his home synagogue was very short. From today's reading it seemed to indicate that after reading the verse from Isaiah which promises hope for the downtrodden, Jesus makes the statement that he's come to fulfill this promise and that's about the sum of his sermon. This made sense to me. It's usually pretty easy to do the right thing. If I see trash in the parking lot, I know I should pick it up. If I'm approaching a door and see someone behind me with a baby in their arms and holding another child by the hand I should hold the door open. If I hear someone making a joke at someone else's expense I should speak up. Knowing what to do in most cases is pretty clear cut. But rationalizing why I shouldn't do the right things takes a lot more thought. So it made sense to me that by choosing to read Isaiah Jesus is reminding us this is what God calls us to do and when we choose to do otherwise it's because we are putting our will before God's.

Several of the commentaries I read about today's reading indicated that scripture was read while standing out of honor and reverence, just as we stand today for the reading of the Bible. When Jesus hands the scroll back to the minister and sits down, it doesn't mean his sermon was over, but only that he was assuming the pose of a teacher and probably went on to expound on what he read. I love the imagery of Jesus sitting down among the people to share his message. To me it also represents how He took on flesh and lived among us, not only telling us how to act, but embodying the mission of restoring the Kingdom of God. We read that "Every eye was fixed upon him" then and today His message is still heard best when we bring our focus entirely on Him.

As Jesus read Isaiah 61:1-2 he claimed a mission to spread hope and inclusion, but left out the words warning of God's vengeance. From the start, Jesus' mission was one of love and mercy. We are called to love God and love others. We are called to actively work for the good for those who are suffering. My prayer is that every day my mission aligns a little more closely to Jesus'.

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