Today's Lectionary Text
Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.
Recently the Rev. Robbie Fall wrote (in her devotion on “What DID Jesus Do”): When someone needed healing, Jesus healed them. in that spirit, I offer you an interpretation of Jesus’s use of Isaiah 61:1-2 lection. Jesus gave people what they needed most, incuding Saving Grace for us.
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me [to bind up the brokenhearted,] to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, and freedom to the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor [Jesus stopped before the rest of Isaiah’s verse “and the day of our God’s Vengeance”].
So, what do people need most? It depends, in part, upon their own circumstances (as Jesus and Isaiah recognized). Prisoners long for what they lack: Freedom. Similarly, captives most need liberty, and we are sure that anyone blind most wants eyesight [although Jesus asked IF that were what a blind person was primarily seeking: see Mark 10:51].
Similarly, Isaiah was inspired to write that the brokenhearted needed to be ”bound-up” [as in the Parallelism of Psalm 147:3 He [God] heals the broken-hearted and [God] binds up their wounds (to bind-up a wound, usually figuratively, of comforting the distressed).
This brings us to a common question in our day: What do the poor need? According to this analysis of Jesus’s teachings, the poor need “Good News.” What makes Poverty “Grinding” is the constant flow of BAD News: “overdrawn”... “credit denied” ... “rent is overdue” ... “interest and penalties” ... “You’re Fired ... “unexplained absences” ... “grace-period has already expired” ... and just “No.”
“Good News” on the other hand buoys up, it gives Hope, it brings deep Relief. In the Septuagint, ‘to preach good news” is translated as euangelisasthai [aorist middle infinitive, a timeless verbal-noun, both given-and-received!] which you can recognize as English “to Evangelize”! The poor need glad tidings, The Gospel-Message of Jesus Christ our Redeemer and Deliverer, who transforms our hopeless existence.
Poverty can have many dimensions: financial, meaningful-life, spiritual-poverty; but to each of those, Jesus has announced His incarnated-message of Good News!
-Rev. David Upp
Retired Elder, Professor, Bishop Han Theological College
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