Isn’t This Joseph’s Son?


Jeremiah 1:4-10

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Luke 4:21-30

Psalm 71:1-6

The reading in Luke is not an easy one. Why would people who watched him grow up suddenly want to kill him?

If we read the corresponding story in Matthew 13:53-58 and Mark 6:1-6, all we see is that the people were displeased with Jesus. No one attacked him, though he could do little healing, because he was amazed at their lack of faith.

We need to look again at the text in last Sunday’s reading in Luke 4:18-19. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mournESV

Isaiah 61:1-2 is the main source of this quote. It is also the main source for Luke 7:22 where Jesus answers John the Baptizer’s question. Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to themESV

Clearly, Luke considered these words of Isaiah an important part of the ministry of Jesus.

Another point that Luke repeated is the presence of the Holy Spirit. Check 1:15; 1:35; 1:41; 1:67; 2:25 ff; 3:16; 3:22; 4:1; 4:14: and 4:18; and that only gets us to the text for today. Luke speaks of the Holy Spirit three more times in the Gospel for a total of 13 plus the single word, “Spirit,” 20 times; while the other three Gospels combine for 14 and 51. Luke adds 42 and 25 more in Acts.

The power of the Holy Spirit was central to Luke’s thinking, as it is throughout the New Testament. That which is most important comes from the Spirit. We must always be aware of the presence of the Spirit of God as we read Scripture.

The custom in the First Century synagogue was for the reader of the Scripture to expound on what he read. Jesus did that and as he spoke people were amazed. Everybody noticed what he said and was amazed at the beautiful words that came from his lips, and they kept saying, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” Phillips

If you’ve watched a person grow into adulthood and become a leader in the community, it’s difficult to forget the snotty little brat he used to be, not that Jesus was a brat.

Somewhere in that discourse, Jesus began to turn the people against him.  But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the SyrianESV

Jesus was speaking to God’s Chosen People. They alone received the Teaching from God. How dare this kid from their own community denigrate them?

But why did they try to kill him?

Everyone there understood and accepted Jesus when he said, “This very day this scripture has been fulfilled, while you were listening to it,” Phillips They were pleased that he identified himself as a prophet like Isaiah. Remember that this is the first interaction with people recorded by Luke. It seems that Luke wants us to see the difficulty Jesus will face throughout his ministry—the rejection by his own people. He also places the life of Jesus at the crest of death to symbolize the end of his earthly ministry.

Here we have Jesus boldly stating what he intends to do, that he expects to be rejected by most Jews, and that he will willingly face death to reach those few who understand and accept his Word.

In other words, Luke may have expanded the account to give us an important theological lesson. That is a common tool ancient authors used. No one would ever say, “it didn’t happen that way.” They would not, however, make the connection with Jesus’ death until much later.


Read my earlier comments on this theme here.


Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

The Wind Blows Wherever It Pleases


Isaiah 6:1-8
Psalm 29
Romans 8:12-17
John 3:1-17


In reading this passage in John, the image of the wind struck me. Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit, often called wind in the Scriptures. In today’s reading, the wind/Spirit must enter a person for that person to come close to God.

To get a better understanding of the role of the Wind, let us consider every Evangelical’s favorite verse: Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born againNIV The key word is again—anothen in Greek. The word is from the root ano, meaning upward, above, brim, high, up.

To say that a person must be born anothen is to say born from above or from the beginning. The Message has it: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom. The Amplified Bible reads: I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a person is born again [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified], he cannot [ever] see and experience the kingdom of God.

The ancient Greek has 36 words which can be used to mean again. John chose this one because of its stress on coming from above, that is, from God. It is Nicodemus who brings in the sense of rebirth. How can anyone who is already old be born? NJB That is the kind of question we would expect Peter to ask. It is a good question on the physical level.

But Jesus was not talking about physical birth. He tells Nicodemus, you are right, the physical birth has already occurred. The word John used is sarkikos—flesh. From sarkikos comes sarkikos. Jesus goes on: what is born from the Spirit is spiritCJB Notice the capital S. The Holy Spirit of God places the spirit in humans.

The spirit first came into humans at creation. Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living beingNIV The Breath of God is equated with the Holy Spirit, and with the wind.

Jesus said, The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the SpiritNIV Jesus did not choose the image of the wind by accident. The Scriptures frequently used the wind to describe the work of the Holy Spirit. Nicodemus knew that very well.

But what does Jesus mean when he says, The wind blows wherever it pleases? That sounds hit or miss. Did Jesus mean some would be lucky in God’s game of darts?

One of the early Church Fathers, John Chrysostom, wrote in the late Fourth Century: Although he says “it blows where it pleases,” he does not say this as if the wind had any power of choice. He is simply declaring that its natural motion is powerful and cannot be hindered…. For no one can hold the wind; it moves where it pleases. And so, whether it is the laws of nature or the limits of bodily generation or anything else like this—they have no ability to restrain the operations of the Spirit. ACCS

In our best human understanding, the power of the Spirit is similar to the power of the wind.

Bede the Venerable (early Eighth-Century England) added: The Spirit comes to the saints [and] goes from the saints, so that they may be refreshed from time to time by the frequently recurring light of the return of him whom they are not capable of having alwaysACCS

I’ll close with verses 16-18 as paraphrased by Eugene Peterson. This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to himMSG


Read my earlier comments on this theme here.


Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence