Saturday 23 January 2010

Good news to the poor Epiphany 3

Luke 4:14-21 Good news for the poor

I guess when Obama was elected that people were desperate to see him, hear him, to listen to what he had to say. Its the nearest we have to the popularity of Jesus in the first century.
He like all of us went home, to Nazareth. Going home is a good thing it nourishes our roots our identity our sense of who we are and where we have come from. It can also be a very bad thing. We go back to the old patterns, the old ways of behaviour and understanding.
So he went to church as his family did. And because his was a significant homecoming he was invited to preach. An essential element in the synagogue service was the reading of scripture. The teacher stands to read and sits to teach. There was a cycle of readings, like our lectionary, first a reading from the Torah followed by a reading from the Prophets. The reading was in Hebrew with a translation in Aramaic, as that was the local language.
So he unrolled the large scroll and found the reading, possibly indicates that it wasn't a set text, or the scroll would have already been open ready for the reader.
Jesus famous sermon in Luke 4, the mission text of the developing world, is from Isaiah's prophecy about the Servant of the Lord, a figure that was a far cry from any warrior king but a liberator of the people, a table turner. The quote is an extract from Isaiah: 61:1, 58:6, 61:2, not only does he proclaim the coming kingdom, in terms of the long-awaited Jubilee year (freedom, release of slaves, wiping of debts ...) he initiates the Jubilee himself - he is anointed ... to release the oppressed, because Israel practises fasting rather than justice. He has come to preach the imperial good news, to release the captives and to preach good news to the poor!
Western scholars have made much of trying to work out who are the poor but in the developing world this would be a non-question and so it should be for us. Guttierez, the Soth American Liberation theologian based a new way of being for the church on this whole theological axis. This is what we are about. He has sent me to preach, freedom, forgiveness to the prisoners even literally, to give sight to the blind and to release the oppressed. In general Jesus is inaugurating the year of Jubilee, written of in Leviticus 25, the fiftieth year when slaves are released, and debts cancelled like the impetus for Make Poverty History.
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back and sat down in the preacher's seat.
All eyes were fastened on him

v21 he began today is fulfilled in your hearing

v22 spoke well of were amazed - Amazement is an important initial response to the gospel; it is the kind of response a person makes when confronted by a theophany
the gracious words



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