From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
"I didn't come to teach you---I came to love you--- love will teach you." (Anonymous)
"...they read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving meaning so that the people could understand what was being read..." (Nehemiah 8:8)
"...as it is, there are many parts, but one body... the eye cannot say to the hand--- 'I don't need you!' and the head cannot say to the feet--- 'I don't need you!' On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable... and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor...and the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty..." (1 Corinthians 12:12-31a)
"...then He rolled up the scroll... gave it back to the attendant and sat down... the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on Him and He began by saying to them... 'Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing'..." (Luke 4:14-21)
Gracious Lord and Master,
As we turn to you in prayer today, at this very moment, we find ourselves, focusing directly upon you as we pray, in the here and now. What a delight! It is as though we were there when Jesus opened the scroll in the synagogue in Nazareth. How magnificent it is to reside in your presence--- Yes, to dwell---allowing you to speak to us as we open our hearts to receive you in this direct line of communication. Lord, as we proceed through this day, and those following, allow our dialogue with you, and the world we live in, to be in communion, a form of natural, supernatural conversation. Allow us to hear you speak to us, direct us, guide us...so our lives may be pleasing to us...and that...sometimes seeming or feeling simple...we may become wise...and sanctified...
In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Today we find ourselves in the fourth chapter of Luke's gospel. I can identify five different components found in this remarkable chapter. First of all, we have the "Temptation of Christ" down there next to the River Jordan, where Jesus was baptized. Second of all, Jesus is back up north in His hometown of Nazareth, over one hundred miles from the Jordan. He is in the synagogue at Nazareth and makes a remarkable declaration taken from the Prophet Isaiah, from seven hundred years prior. Third, Jesus' claim based on the Isaiah passage is rejected by his neighbors; He comments, "...no prophet is accepted in his hometown..." They literally drove Jesus out of town. Fourthly, in Capernaum, down the road, He drives out an evil spirit in a man, and finally, fifth, Jesus heals the mother-in-law of Simon Peter, and as well, a host of others. With this, the chapter ends...
He stood up to read. The scroll from the prophet Isaiah, the sixty-first chapter, verses one and two:
"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord 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 freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor..."
At this point Jesus rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue were upon Him. The comment made by Jesus [to me] seems riveting.
"Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
The implication was that Isaiah's prophesy from seven hundred years prior was being fulfilled through Jesus as He is about to begin His ministry in Galilee. What was predicted, or prophesized, hundreds of years before, would be fulfilled in the life and ministry of the One proclaiming---thus---as He read the Word.
The other is accompanying my dear Dad to the local railroad station in North La Crosse, Wisconsin, at the age of five years old, and having Dad put me on his shoulders to see and hear President Harry Truman speak to a small, shivering crowd gathered at the last car of his campaign train...
There was snow on the ground. It was freezing. The message was brief, as I remember, but the impact of seeing President Truman has stayed with me for over seventy years. What's my point?
Well, millions can share the experience of having watched President Kennedy and this famous speech on television. Yet, although it actually happened, it still seems rather distant, although impressive. Indeed, in the case of the Truman experience, it has always seemed impressive, but in addition, personal and unique, grounded in time and somehow much more real, associated with flesh and blood. Dad was one of those old-fashioned Republicans, and yet, later that year, he voted for Truman. His assurance was justified, as most historians would note.
So, too, is the experience of knowing about Jesus' personal appeal to the people He grew up with. And of course, there was going to be a negative reaction.
But... "....He walked right through the crowd and went on his way...." (Luke 4:30)
The scene in the synagogue always seemed idyllic to me...but really...it's momentous to consider that God presents Himself...that is...makes Himself known...fulfills His promises---yes---reveals Himself within the context of simple events in the course of our lives and times. He makes Himself known most powerfully when we can no longer shut Him out, but see Him within the context of the "nitty-gritty" of our lives.
He makes a real, powerful difference. Our lives are impacted by His divine and loving touch...within the common experiences of our lives. We don't forget this, because we are illuminated by the experience, just as I've kept the memory of seeing Truman on my Dad's shoulders. Yes, God makes Himself known to us within the everyday experiences of our lives. In our hometown. In the church we attend. Extraordinary extraordinary events---right under our noses. We are daily transformed by God's intervention in our lives... into the hardest of human hearts...
God makes Himself known. Jesus becomes real to us.
Often what is perceived as ordinary, just for the moment, becomes dynamic and extraordinary, beyond any vision we could possibly have.
The question is---Are we aware of it? Did I know when I was five years old, I'd still be remembering seeing President Harry Truman in person. Even if I would, is it possible I would eventually consider Truman exceptional, or among other presidents, great...and not just a person worthy of note. Jesus becomes large to us as we continue to think on Him and note His greatness in our midst.
Just to say---God is great. Jesus is love. Jesus will faithful, ever so carefully, causing things to happen to save us and draw us near to Him. Are we taking note? Are we aware?
Could we be, on the other hand, like the hometown people in Nazareth who could only see Jesus the way they "had" seen Him or perceived Him to be--- growing up. Are we---am I---guilty of marginalizing the legacy of the Christ? We need to be careful. The Lord Jesus was---and is great...
He is, indeed, worthy to be praised!