Third Sunday after Epiphany / January 21, 2007
Text: Luke 4:14 – 21 / Message by: Rev. Carol Kniseley
I was ten years old when Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned
The people of
The people of
Perhaps that is why today’s story is so appealing. The story of Jesus returning to his home town is one that many of us can no doubt relate to. I would like to think it reminds us of the times when we all have tried to ‘go home’ on one occasion or another…only to discover that such a thing is not really possible. Circumstances change…people change…and because this world is in a constant state of change, we can never count on things remaining just the way they were when we were growing up.
No doubt, the same was true for Jesus. Going to the synagogue was as natural as going to school...even if only the men were allowed inside. As a boy, he had been in this particular synagogue hundreds of times with his father, Joseph, by his side. It was in his hearing, then, that the scriptures were brought to life, and the word of God took hold of not only his mind…but his very heart. So it should come as no surprise to us to hear Jesus say what was probably the most scandalous thing he could have said at the time:
‘Today…this scripture has been fulfilled…in your hearing.’
It was scandalous, because…the only way such a statement could even be remotely true would be if God had decided to make a personal appearance right there in their midst. In other words, it was Jesus’ portrait that Isaiah was painting. He is ‘God with us’. Not yesterday…not tomorrow…but right now….this very minute…today.
In fact, it is very telling that Luke is the only Gospel
writer to use the word “today” in connection with this whole event. Time and again in Luke’s Gospel, the word
“today” shows up in some pretty key places.
Earlier in chapter 2 the angel announces that “today…a savior is born” (Luke 2). Later, when Jesus encounters the tax
collector, Zacchaeus, he says: “Today…salvation has come to this house” (Luke
19:9). And finally, on the cross we
find Jesus saying to one of the criminals beside him, “Today…you will be with me in
In short, the infinite creator has purposefully chosen to become a part of his finite creation. And in so doing, has changed the course of history…into one of ‘his story’ instead. The point is…Luke wants us to be sure to hear the good news that in this Jesus, God is now fulfilling the promise of a Savior. We need not look for another at a later date. The Savior is here now…today.
So…what does this mean for you and me? Well, first of all, it means that we no longer live in a world apart from God. In Jesus, our every waking moment can be seen as an opportunity to connect with God. And one of the very best ways to connect with God…is to simply listen for his voice. Of all the things Jesus could have said following today’s scripture reading…he chose to say:
‘Today…this scripture has been fulfilled (how?)
…in your hearing.’
How many times have we been told…faith comes through hearing. I have no doubt that when Martin Luther King, Jr. was a young boy, he would often go to church to hear the scriptures being read. It was in his hearing, then, that the young Martin learned about the ways of God. How God, too, had a dream for liberating not only all of humankind…but of this entire universe as well. As we state every single Sunday during Confession, we are all in bondage to sin…and can not free ourselves. What we desperately needed was a Savior who could set us free. Bottom line: that Savior is none other than Jesus himself.
This…above all else…is what we profess to believe. And if admitting such a thing is offensive to some, even to some in our own family, then so be it. At least it shows they are listening. The next step…is to pray for their unbelief.