Epiphany IIIc, (January 24, 2016)
TITLE: â€œIn Your Earsâ€
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. Luke chapter four.
In a world where everything is scripted and managed, and we donâ€™t have conversations so much as talking points, having someone who will say something new is refreshing, donâ€™t you think? Isnâ€™t it nice to have someone speaking where you donâ€™t know what is going to come out of their mouth? I am, of course, speaking of Rabbi Jesus speaking at the synagogue in Nazareth. Who did you think I was talking about?
Jesus steps up to the lectern and reads from Isaiah as follows.
â€œâ€œThe Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lordâ€™s favor.â€â€ (Luke 4:18â€“19 ESV)
All the eyes were upon Him. What would the hometown preacher say about this text from Isaiah? What would He do? Would it be the same thing they had been hearing for centuries, words that may be true but somehow seemed stale, not enough in this day and age? Or would He say something else, something they did not expect.
The words of our Lord change everything: â€œAnd he began to say to them, â€œToday this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.â€â€ (Luke 4:21 ESV) Good new, liberty, recovery of sight, freedom for the oppressed, the year of the Lordâ€™s favor. It all begins with the flesh and blood of Jesus. For where He is, all of these things are in place. That is something new. The people are actually in awe of His gracious words.
Well, really gracious words make it sound like Heâ€™s inviting them to a tea party. Itâ€™s really more like â€œwords of graceâ€. When Jesus speaks and acts, it is with grace, not finally judgment. He looks with kindness upon the people, just as He looks with kindness upon you. His grace and mercy extend out. He embraces not the nice and the religious, the upright citizens or the pious. His grace extends to all, for all of us are in need of his grace words.
Do you believe it? Do you believe that you need Jesus Christ and His mercies? You see, beloved, when He talks about freeing the prisoners, healing the brokenhearted, giving sight to the blind, and freedom to the oppressed, when He talks about those works of His, He is talking about you. You are broken and full of sin, blind to His will, and bound by the shackles of Satan himself. If you see yourself in this picture, Jesus is for you. And make no mistake, you are in this picture of a world undone.
But hereâ€™s the thing. Where Jesus is, there is hope. Where Jesus is, there is life and freedom. Where Jesus is, there is a new beginning. Now this isnâ€™t the fake promise of a politician who wants your vote. This is the promise of a God who became man so that you might be saved from sin and hell.
And that is what made the people in our episode so angry. Jesusâ€™ mercy wasnâ€™t just for them. It was for all. They became angry when it was clear that Jesus wasnâ€™t going to give them special favors or status in the Kingdom of God. They became so angry that they literally tried to throw Him off a cliff and kill Him, just as they had done to the prophets before Him.
Today Godâ€™s promises are fulfilled in your ears. Today God delivers Himself to you by Word and Meal. Today God says to you, repent and believe in my grace and kindness. When Jesus opens up His Word, something new is going to happen. It wonâ€™t be the Law of condemnation and judgment. Jesus words are finally words of grace and hope. Trust in them now, for they are here for you.
In Jesusâ€™ name. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.