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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, March 13, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 4:16–21

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “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.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (NRSV)

It is hard to imagine how any twenty-first-century Christian would react to a contemporary, flesh-and-bones human sitting in the next pew should they make this kind of announcement. Jesus is reading from revered text, and those in his hearing certainly were expecting this important prophesy to be fulfilled. They might even have begun to believe him had he not gone on to condemn them.

What about now? What do I make of Jesus’ declaration that the prophesy has been fulfilled when I know that the oppressed are not free, that I do not see the year of the Lord’s favor? After all, this declaration is addressed to me as well as to his neighbors in Nazareth.

For me it is a lot easier to think about this passage from an intellectual standpoint than to wrestle with the words and implications. When I try to discern what the gospel means to and for me, my only conclusion is that right now I am “looking through a glass darkly” but can clearly see the call for me to be an active participant in Jesus’ fulfilling the prophesy. I judge that I must think of God’s continuing work in the world to be part of the ongoing creation. I cannot do it all, but with the strength of God I can do something.

Therefore, I must do all that I can.

Dear Lord, help me to be a cog in your machinery of creation, restoration, and reconciliation. Help me to focus on what I can do and not on what I cannot do. In the name of Jesus, the Christ. Amen.

Written by Blake Anderson, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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