“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”
An Exciting Day in Nazareth
(Please read Luke 4:16-30)
Soon after his baptism and temptations, Jesus returned to his hometown, Nazareth, and visited the synagogue. There he read from the first part of what we know as Isaiah 61, plus a portion of Isaiah 42:7. The eyes of the crowd were riveted on him as he sat down and began to speak, probably because of his manner in reading, as if he were making the prophet’s words his own. When he began his remarks after the reading by saying, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing,” the audience marveled at his gracious words –- until it dawned on them that he had declared himself to be the Messiah. Coupled with his later remarks, that declaration was too much for them, and the service that day turned out to be a near-lynching.
The passages from Isaiah describe to perfection Christ’s mission on earth. He preached the gospel to “the poor.” Not that the gospel is to be withheld from anyone on economic grounds, but these are the “poor in spirit” to whom Jesus referred in the Sermon on the Mount –- people who feel their spiritual need. He comforted the brokenhearted and preached deliverance to those in the captivity of sin. He healed people who were physically blind and brought an eye-opening gospel to the spiritually blind.
We cannot afford, though, to think Jesus’s words that day applied strictly to himself and his work, since he has placed much of the responsibility for the success of his mission in the hands of his disciples. And we must keep proclaiming the acceptable year of the Lord, every year that we live.