Week Five: The Beginning of Jesus’ Public Ministry
Verse to memorize
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me.”
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,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
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. Then He began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”. (NRSV)
Gospel of Luke 4:14-21
1) Q: Did you guess correctly last week that it was Jesus who quoted Isaiah in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke? Q: What is a synagogue? A: A place of assembly and worship for Jews, similar to our parish church. Q: What is the sabbath? A: The day of rest or the Lord’s Day. For Jews it is Saturday.
2) Q: In the passage right before this one in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus had just spent 40 days in the wilderness, led by the Spirit, praying to His Father. Now He is ready to begin His public ministry. He is “filled with the power of the Spirit”. Why do you think Jesus (and the Spirit) chose this passage from Isaiah? A: There are many answers to this question: He has come as Savior, to rescue the poor, the down-trodden, the sick, the oppressed. He did not come for the wealthy, the powerful, the proud, and the self-satisfied people. Jesus is a merciful God. He came to proclaim that “the kingdom of God” is on earth as well as in Heaven.
3) Q: If you look at last week’s quotation from the Book of Isaiah, Jesus has omitted something. What part did Jesus leave out? A: “…to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God”. Q: What is vengeance? A: A kind of punishment in kind for someone’s wrong deed, like the sentence of a judge. Q: Why did Jesus leave out the vengeance? A: The Jews before Jesus were waiting for the great “Day of the Lord” which was the day on which God would come to earth visibly with justice to reward the righteous and the powerless and to punish the wicked. In Jesus the Lord has come with the reward but without the punishment. He postpones the judgment and punishment until the Second Coming. He did not come to judge but to save.
4) Q: After reading from the Isaiah scroll, why did Our Lord say, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”? A: Jesus is speaking indirectly. Without identifying Himself as Lord God, He is letting the people of his hometown know that God the Father is fulfilling or keeping the promise He made through Isaiah. If they could figure it out, He is really saying, “I am Lord, and I am here now on earth to save”. Q: Do you think the people of Nazareth understood that God was in their midst? A: No, but later, after all the miracles and after the Resurrection and the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Gospel writers remembered this incredible saying.
5) Q: If we could “time travel” back to that Saturday in the Nazareth Synagogue, and we heard Jesus read and speak, what would you do? A: Many possible answers. Maybe kneel at His feet and say, “Thank you, Jesus, for becoming man so we can see God and learn how to live”.
Courtesy of The Bible Project