Sunday, January 27, 2013

Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing

Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Jesus chooses a passage from Isaiah, and then sits down. At this point, it would be expected he would preach. But Jesus does more than this.

 We get a little insight into how worship in the synagogue in Jesus’ time. The time would have begun with the Shema from Deuteronomy, like we did today. A proscribed reading from the Torah would have followed.

Now we reach the action of today. A rabbi, or teacher would stand, and read from one of the prophets, a passage of their own choosing. Then they would sit down and preach on this passage.

This is what Jesus did.

He chose a passage and preached on it.

Well, preached on the passage is a bit of a stretch.

His sermon was a single sentence:

"Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

By Jesus saying this, he is saying that Isaiah wrote this passage about him. Jesus is the fulfilment of this passage. So, the sermon is really himself. The person who sits before them, Jesus of Nazareth is the sermon.

So, what is it in this passage of Isaiah that led Jesus to choose it as his first teaching?

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.

The proof that the spirit is upon him is in the message he has to proclaim, and who he is to proclaim it to: the poor.

He is to proclaim release to those who are captive.
He is to recover the sight of the blind.
He is to free the oppressed.

This is what he will do. His sermon, the single sentence, is a manifesto of what his mission will be, but it is more than that.

It is today that this is fulfilled. The presence of God incarnate, Jesus Christ means this is happening.

This can only happen by the God’s doing, and it can only happen by God dwelling with us.

We only have to follow the rest of Luke’s Gospel to see how Jesus went about fulfilling these divine fixes.

People were held captive by a religious system that demanded some were kept from God’s presence. They were captive to a fear of God that they couldn’t fulfill, they were captive in a system that kept them down and out, with no help of release. They were oppressed along racial, class and gender lines.

People were blind in the way they understood how God worked his way in the cosmos. Jesus healed those who were blind due to his frustration of a system that would not see God how he was. The blind were on the outside. But those who were the blindest were the ones controlling the inside.

By Jesus saying

"Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

He was removing the whole concept of who was out and who was in. His presence among ALL people meant they were in God’s presence: the oppressed and the oppressor.

The presence of Christ among all people means the idea of in or out was completely redundant.

In our time, it is the same. The Church, the body of Christ continues this work. It is our job to be sure that we are not keeping the system of in or out alive. It is our job the recover the sight of the blind, to proclaim the good news of Christ to those who cannot see it. It is our job to release those who are captive.

Who are the captive? Who are the oppressed? Who are the blind?

The captive is a woman in line at the shop being bombarded with messages about diets, makeup and tips to improve her sex life.

The oppressed is a man who feels he has to earn so much money to buy things he doesn’t need, just so he can be part of society.

The blind are those who have been rejected by the church due to their status, ethnicity or sexuality and can now longer see God as being there.

These are the things that the gospel speaks to today.

If we who have heard Jesus say

"Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

believe that this is true, we should proclaim it to all, in word and deed. Look for where oppression is in our town. Look for those who are captive. Look for the blind.

As the body of Christ, it is us who now need to say

"Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

It is the church’s duty to proclaim the moment when Jesus, the son of God, announced the coming Kingdom, and to not only proclaim it, but to actively facilitate it’s coming to being.

"Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Scripture was fulfilled on that day, and not just that day, but nearly 2000 years later, Jesus asks us to keep his word.


Peter E said...

Chris I sometimes think the Gospel writers may have summarised what they heard due to the limited means of communication at their disposal - no audio files or keyboard facilities then. I think Jesus would have said much more that day - if this had happened here and now he may have taken your point about the oppression of advertising! Keep up the good work!

orczy said...

I think Luke was making a significant point by making Jesus' sermon a single sentence. Jesus as sermon. It is likely that Jesus did say more, but the essence is in this line. It makes the hearers really think about the passage, and also makes them look forward to how it will come into being.