Lectionary Reading: Luke 4:14-21 (NRSV)
As I continue in my sermon series, “Juxtaposed: The Paradox of Faith” we will begin to look at Luke’s Gospel lectionary readings starting with this Sunday.
We open with Luke’s account of the onset of the ministry of Jesus among the people of Galilee. He has been baptized and successfully withheld temptations. Now he is ready to begin preaching, teaching, healing and embodying the mystery of God. While John’s Gospel begins with the miracle at Cana, Luke begins with teaching in the synagogue in his own hometown.
Jesus reads from Isaiah 61 which is speaking to a people that have been exiled in Babylon and have returned home to Judah. They are trying to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem which had been destroyed by the Babylonians in the time of their grandparents and great-grandparents.
Isaiah speaks of good news to the returned. It would have been good to hear and yet many would have felt that it may have been a bit premature. It was good to hear that the Lord had released them so that they may return home. Yet there were now people occupying their ancestral lands. Would these distant cousins make room for them once more?
Or would they more likely see how Babylon had rubbed off too much on these exiles seeking to move in with them?
There is a paradox in that they were free and yet at the same time still captive to the culture they thought they had escaped.
Jesus reads this same word to a people bound by Rome. They also longed to be free and longed for someone to free them.
How does this message of Jesus set with the people of God? Is it too soon to declare this? Would the people accept it? It may be especially difficult in that Jesus speaks this word to his hometown!
Today, we see Jesus speaking to the poor, the captives and the blind. What does that mean to the rich, the free and the sighted? It is also paradoxical to us today in that we are both at the same time: rich and poor, captive and free, blind and sighted. How does our faith allow us to hold these things in tension? How do we receive good news in a way that we can incorporate it?
We’ll continue to explore this on Sunday - I hope you’ll join us in some fashion!
Check out more of Sam’s blog articles at precedinggrace.blogspot.com. Photo used under the Creative Commons license.