Blogging the Bible 271 – Luke 4:14 – 5:39 – Good News to the Poor


The view as I’m writing this post

There are so many things in this passage that it’s hard to know what to focus on. But it’s probably important to include Jesus’ sermon in Nazareth. His choice of text from Isaiah sets the tone for much of Luke’s distinctive emphasis on his ministry to the poor, sick and marginalised. But equally important is the point of where he stopped reading. The passage, which was apparently often quoted in those troubled times, goes on from the announcement of good news for the downtrodden to proclaim ‘the day of vengeance of our God.’ One thing I was very aware of in the Old Testament was how often the blessing of God’s people went hand in hand with the destruction of their enemies, like two sides of one coin. It feels as though Jesus is recasting that whole hope – not that he denies the reality of judgement, but that he decouples it from good news.
As his next words go on to suggest, Jesus is not presenting the day of good news as a zero-sum game where Israel wins so the nations must lose. In fact, he seems to suggest that the gentiles may be more ready to receive God’s blessing than is Israel.
No wonder his neighbours are angry.
Later on, Jesus calls his disciples. It strikes me that the impact Jesus makes on them really starts in relation not to his preaching but to his speaking into their everyday lives. Peter only responds to what he’s heard from Jesus when he realises that (as well as carpentry and preaching) Jesus is worth listening to when it comes to fishing. Levi gets up to follow when Jesus speaks to him, not in the synagogue but in his place of work.
As a church, we’re not good at bringing together Sunday worship and Monday workplace. Any thoughts on how we can do it better? It seems to have worked for Jesus.

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