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 Day of God

Second Sunday of Advent

 

Malachi 3:1-4
Philippians 1:3-11
Luke 3:1-6

In verse one of the Malachi reading, we see, Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before meESV This sounds like Isaiah 40:3: A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” ESV That passage is quoted by Luke in today’s reading where Luke attaches the command to John.

But this being the season of Advent, we should consider the messenger to be Jesus. Indeed, when we look at the third reading for today, we read: so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of ChristNIV

When we go to the Daily Lectionary for this week, we see passages from Numbers, 2 Samuel, and Nehemiah, each of which points to the coming Messiah. In Isaiah 1:24-31, we read verses 30-31: Like an unwatered garden, withered and brown. ‘The Big Man’ will turn out to be dead bark and twigs, and his ‘work,’ the spark that starts the fire That exposes man and work both as nothing but cinders and smoke. MSG This prophecy can only refer to the Messiah.

There are other readings this week from Luke. In Luke 11:29-32, Jesus condemns, not his followers, but the crowd of critics who try to prove that Jesus was a false prophet. He said to them, On Judgment Day the Ninevites will stand up and give evidence that will condemn this generation, because when Jonah preached to them they changed their lives. A far greater preacher than Jonah is here, and you squabble about ‘proofs.’ MSG

And in Luke 21:20-24 Jesus speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem. But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armed forces, then you will know that the time of her devastation has arrivedPhillips

These are not passages we want to read at Christmas. The peace that the Messiah came to establish cannot be established without the destruction of the old ways. Look at verse 6 of the Philippians reading for today. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus ChristESV We will see all that is Godly, Holy, and perfect when the Messiah returns at the end of time.

Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5: But you, brothers, are not in the dark, so that the Day should take you by surprise like a thief; for you are all people who belong to the light, who belong to the day. We don’t belong to the night or to darknessCJB We can look forward to the times of trials because we have the Light to keep us on the path.

2 Peter 3:1-18, verses 9-12a:  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some people think of slowness; on the contrary, he is patient with you; for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins. However, the Day of the Lord will come “like a thief.” On that Day the heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will melt and disintegrate, and the earth and everything in it will be burned up.

Since everything is going to be destroyed like this, what kind of people should you be? You should lead holy and godly lives, as you wait for the Day of God. CJB

But the last word belongs to Jesus. Revelation 22:12-16. See, I come quickly! I carry my reward with me, and repay every man according to his deeds. I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the Beginning and the End. Happy are those who wash their robes, for they have the right to the tree of life and the freedom of the gates of the city. Shut out from the city shall be the depraved, the sorcerers, the impure, the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practises a lie!

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to you with this testimony for the Churches. I am both the root and stock of David, and the bright star of the morning! Phillips

Read my earlier comments on this theme here.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence