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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 4:14–21

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. 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)

I like the note verse 21 ends on here. It’s a mic-drop moment. It conjures up a scene of synagogue hearers listening, open-mouthed, in reverential wonder, to Jesus’ words. Read ahead a touch, though, and you see that when they actually thought about what he was saying and how it implicated them they tried to throw him off a cliff.

Look, it’s good news Jesus is sharing here, and they recognize the script he’s reading from—a loose amalgam of references from the prophet Isaiah. To the poor: good news. To captives: release. To the blind: sight. To the oppressed: liberations. Amen to that!

Only, I suppose no news is universally good. Any news that’s good for one person or group of people sounds bad to another person, another party. You can almost hear the objection that the poor haven’t done anything to merit any good news and that the captives are getting their due. Not everyone hears Jesus’ good news as good.

The question this story presents to me is twofold. First, how do I hear this announcement? Do I rejoice with those Jesus is addressing, or do I resist it? Second, how is my life as Jesus’ disciple echoing his founding gospel proclamation? Does my life and work lead to the conclusion that there is, in fact, good news for the world’s poor and that freedom from every kind of personal and political bondage is an available reality?

Help us to hear today the gospel of Jesus of Galilee, O God. May we always side, for your sake, with the poor, the captive, and the marginalized. Through Christ our teacher, brother, and savior. Amen.

Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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