Roger's Postings

Friday, January 25, 2013


Luke 4:14-21.              Hear and Know!                                                         27/1/13

 (14)  Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. {15} He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. {16} He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. {17} The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: {18} "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, {19} to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour."  {21)  Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, {21} and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

 As we gather week by week here in God’s house, what is it that we come for? What is it that we listen to and are a part of? Why do we, or should we, be here regularly?  What is it that makes this one hour a week the most important thing that we can be a part of and participate in?

 So often we come out of habit and ritual, not really sure why. We come because we have a sense that somehow it is the right thing to do. We come because we know deep down that we need something more in our life. Perhaps we even come in order to do the right thing by God and to show him and others that we are a Christian: that we are worthy of acceptance.

 However, no matter what reason draws us here, it is here that we have an encounter with the Almighty God himself. Here his Word is read and heard, and it leads and points us to Jesus Christ and challenges us to see that he alone is what we need for life. In God’s Word and Jesus’ fulfilment of it, we have that which is truly important for us.

 Now with these things in mind let us reflect on some very important points that come to us through this reading.
Firstly we hear how Jesus as he began his ministry here on earth: He went to Nazareth, (that is, his home town) where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.

Here we learn something that was basic for Jesus, and has been that way for faithful Christians ever since. His custom was that he would go to the synagogue and listen to and reflect on the Scriptures - the Word of God. Each Sabbath he would go to God’s house and hear and read that which was known to be of utmost importance to God’s people. So regular worship, where God’s Word was central, was very much a part of his thinking; and so should also be for us.

 We need to gather regularly under God’s Word, for we are people whose nature is very easily led astray; as we can see from our society around us. Because we are self-centred people, we all too often think we have it under control and that we can go to church when and where it pleases us. But as we can see, that as this thinking grows, so does the absenteeism from worship. We need to maintain regular worship as best we can, for our benefit and the benefit of our relationship with God, as well as for the benefit of other.

 Secondly we read that the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. This again reminds us quite clearly that what we have in the Bible is what is to be the focus of our worship, as it was for Jesus. No other book or revelation is needed for us to know what is basic to the faith. We don’t need all the added extras that are so often held up today as being essential. We don’t need the right experiences and feelings. God’s Word extends to us that which we truly need.

 Here, what Jesus read from the scroll, and said of it, is very interesting. There was no long flowery sermon or intellectual gymnastics. He simply read the lesson, and sat down saying the words: "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." This reading was his Gospel lesson and his sermon. Here was good news for the people: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour."

 Here was no moralistic sermon: no hyper-charismatic, get them in, address. No focussing on feelings and experience, in order to help people simply feel good about themselves and to go away enthused. He did not focus on the people and what and how they must live as God’s people if they were to receive God’s blessings.

 So here he simply reads what God’s Word has to say and concludes by saying that it is he who it is referring to. This reading and the whole of scripture seeks to point to and lead people to Jesus Christ and the Good News that he has for us. Any use of Scripture for purposes other than leading people to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour is deception and heresy.

 After all what more could we want, than what was prophesied about Jesus and which he said is now fulfilled in his coming. "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour."

In Jesus and his life, death and resurrection, there is good news for the poor: Both the poor in spirit and poor in terms of earthly wealth: For in light of Jesus and his love for us, that has ensured forgiveness of sins, life and salvation, now we no longer need to be ‘down in the dumps’ because the troubles of this world are overpowering us. We do not need to fear that though the world might look down on us because of our lack of wealth and material possessions; because we do know now that we are loved and accepted by God even though we do not have anything to offer or make us acceptable. Our wealth or lack of it does not indicate that we are more or less blessed by God. We are blest and accepted by God because of Jesus’ death on the cross for us: Nothing more: Nothing less.

 Also even though we spiritually might be feeling poor and empty: knowing that we are sinful and unclean, Jesus even there offers this same Good News. Even though we have nothing to offer God in terms of good works, he died for each and every one of us: thereby determining that we are all made right with him. In Jesus coming and his life, death and resurrection: and our connection to him and his death and resurrection through baptism, we are assured that nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from his love. This is truly good news for the poor.

 Yes there is even freedom for the prisoners. To those who are bound by the devil, like the exiles dragged off to Babylon, and with no human hope of return; Jesus’ coming announces freedom. To those who are caught in the web of all kinds of deceit, and cannot see a way out, Jesus assures even them that he has freedom for them so that that too can share eternity with him in heaven.

 To those who are blind and see nothing but darkness and more of the same, Jesus also comes, announcing recovery of sight for the blind. Yes, Jesus healed many in his day that were physically blind; but even more so he proclaimed that those who have trouble seeing spiritually, but long to know and understand the truths of God, will be enabled to see that which is right and good. Through his Spirit at work where his Word is proclaimed they will be given every help possible, physically and spiritually. It will only be outright rejection of what he has to offer which will bar any from seeing.

 Also the oppressed will know that there is release for them. So many today, as throughout history, feel hopelessly weighed down. They have been smothered by life situations and are helpless to find a way out. Even to them Jesus assures that there is hope and there is life. No matter how tough life is here and now there is release ahead; guaranteed by Jesus Christ himself.

 To each and every person Jesus’ coming proclaims the year of the Lord's favour. In him and our connection to his death and resurrection the Lord's favour is extended to each one of us. We are loved and accepted by God because of Jesus Christ. We have forgiveness of sins, life and salvation: All freely extended to each and every one of us. This is what is made available to you and me again today.

 This is truly good news for us all. This is what Jesus extends to us week by week as we gather here in his house, as is our habit. This is what God has for us here today.  In this Service God himself comes and serves us with this Good News, as we listen to his Word and partake of the Lord’s Supper. Continually we are pointed to Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour and are encouraged to place our trust in him alone, for these things that we truly need and long for. He is our only truly Good News. To him be glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

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