by Pastor Wayne E Josephson
Trinity Lutheran Church, Fowler
Last Sunday (Jan. 24) and next Sunday (Jan. 31) we read the story of Jesus sermon in the Nazareth synagogue. Jesus reads these words from Isaiah: "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."
So what was Jesus doing by reading Isaiah 61:1-2 (and 58: 6) in the synagogue and proclaiming, “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing?” What he was, in essence, proclaiming was this message: “You wealthy and powerful, as well as the people – you are to keep the entire Jubilee, and not just one regulation of it. I have come to bring about the setting free of this great people, so that none of us will be rich, none will be poor, and all of us will live in “shalom” with each other”. Jesus had come proclaiming a reversal of his entire society, so that wealth, power and religious control would no longer be lodged in the hands of a few while all the rest would be thrust into ever-deeper poverty. That is what Jesus meant by “the kingdom of God”!
This is good news, but as we soon see (Luke 4:28-29), the news is not well-received. This is still very good news today, but will we receive this news with open hearts and hands, with willing feet and generous spirits? Will we be any different from the first century faithful? I surely hope so!
As followers of Jesus, we are charged with being the presence of Christ in the world, of bringing that good news to all who are in need of hearing it and of meeting the needs of those who are suffering.
My challenge to all of us is to find ways to meditate on the words of the prophet as realized in Jesus and lived through the priesthood of all believers. Pray fervently, worship fully, and go diligently to bring good news to the poor … and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. May God open our eyes, move our feet, guide our hearts, and bless us with discomfort each and every day.