February 1, 2004

Luke 4:21-30

[21]Then he started in, "You've just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place."

[22] All who were there, watching and listening, were surprised at how well he spoke. But they also said, "Isn't this Joseph's son, the one we've known since he was a youngster?"

[23] He answered, "I suppose you're going to quote the proverb, 'Doctor, go heal yourself. Do here in your hometown what we heard you did in Capernaum.' [24] Well, let me tell you something: No prophet is ever welcomed in his hometown. [25] Isn't it a fact that there were many widows in Israel at the time of Elijah during that three and a half years of drought when famine devastated the land, [26] but the only widow to whom Elijah was sent was in Sarepta in Sidon? [27] And there were many lepers in Israel at the time of the prophet Elisha but the only one cleansed was Naaman the Syrian."

[28] That set everyone in the meeting place seething with anger. [29] They threw him out, banishing him from the village, then took him to a mountain cliff at the edge of the village to throw him to his doom, [30] but he gave them the slip and was on his way.

[The Message]


1. The scripture referred to (borrowed verses from Isaiah 58 & 61) sets out a missionary program that is worthy of Jesus and his followers. If you consider it still be a valid missionary program then comes the difficult part of facing it directly and making decisions about what good news to the poor is in specific contexts and root causes. Following your insight will lead you well. To go further it will be important to assess who the captives of the day are and what would constitute release for them. Likewise with the blind and oppressed.

In these concrete ways you will be proclaiming the year of restorative justice.

2. A major issue before us is how we hear Isaiah through Jesus' mouth and how that sounds in our own mouths. Is it bitter or sweet? The call of creation renewed is to have these words of scripture come true in your life and mine.

It seems we are forever making excuses why Jesus' insights are not just quite right for us to try on in the present. Sometimes it is so familiar that we can only see the sweetness of the words, but not the demands of the call. Sometimes we are so dry we can't swallow the sweetness beyond survival. Sometimes we demand any preaching affect us only in ways that we control. Sometimes we value our anger more than we value growth beyond it.

3. If we read what comes after, as well as what comes before, we will find a parallel -- instead of Jesus being thrown down a cliff by a demonic crowd and killed, a demon throws down a possessed person at Jesus' command to leave and life returns. This action is as clear as a repeat of the preaching to the folks in Nazareth. Freedom -- heaven come on earth -- the commonwealth of GOD as intended -- enters our presence and all we can do is gossip about it, not join in living it.