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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Preaching Class: Sermon#2

Luke 4:14-21

'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."

"Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Gutsy words, coming from a housewife in blue jeans.

They don’t sound so nervy coming from Jesus, of course-- at least, not to our ears. In the last few weeks, we’ve read in Matthew about Jesus’ baptism (and what a moment that was!). He’s spent his time in the wilderness, tempted and tested by Satan, and ministered to by angels. He went to a wedding in Cana, and turned water into wine. Having heard these stories, we’re more ready to hear his authority today.

But the crowd who is listening in the temple doesn’t have that background. What they know is that a local boy - Mary and Joseph’s oldest-- is developing a reputation for impressive teaching, and he’s back in the neighborhood. Jesus is coming home, and his reputation precedes him. So the hometown crowd comes out, to hear what he has to say.

So he goes to the temple on the sabbath, and stands up to read. He’s handed the scroll of Isaiah-- the biggest one on the shelf. From it, he chooses this reading-- and then claims it for his own. This is Jesus’ call, his mission.

So what does that mean for us? Well, I come from a math and science background, so that’s how I think about things. And there’s a fundamental mathematical principle that applies here. Math, not logic, so please humor me, and put the philosopy away for a minute, okay? That principle is called the Transitive Property. It’s simple: if a=b, and b=c, then a=c.

So think about this story in those terms.

a: Jesus has stood up in the assembly, and declared this as his mission.

b: You and I are disiples, followers of Jesus. As Christians, we are “the body of Christ in the world.”

So then, c: if this is Christ’s mission, and we are the body of Christ, then this is our mission, yours, and mine.

“to bring good news to the poor...” - to care for the homeless, the destitute, and the ill; and to recognize the poverty in our own souls, relieved by the same.

“...to proclaim release to the captives...” - those trapped in striving and sin, in greed and power and self-interest, with the Good News that there is another way-- a better way.

“...and recovery of sight to the blind...”- pointing out what the world does not wish to see; the damage done when we ignore the pain and suffering of the world around us, and the healing that is possible when we open our eyes.

“To let the oppressed go free...” - to stand with, and sometimes speak on behalf of, those who either cannot speak for themselves, or who would not be heard in the clamor unless one more voice is added.

“...and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” - In Jesus, the Old Testament year of Jubilee, of freedom, is expanded. In his life, we learn how to live. In his death, our death is destroyed, and we are reborn in his resurrection.

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me.”

Go ahead and say that.

Own those words, and take them seriously, and live them-- and this scripture will be fulfilled in our hearing.


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