“Today Scripture is Fulfilled in Your Hearing”
Epiphany 3, January 24, 2016
Today Scripture Is Fulfilled in Your Hearing
Text: Luke 4:16–30
What if Jesus came to Edmond this morning? What if He came to our church? What if He stood here in this pulpit and preached a sermon? Wouldn’t that be something? Imagine, hearing a message straight from God! Although I am pretty sure he wouldn’t talk about chocolate cake…
Well, this is what Jesus did many years ago when on the Lord’s Day He entered His hometown synagogue in Nazareth. The year was about 29 or 30 AD. And the whole town turned out to see their famous son preach a sermon. Let’s take a look this morning at how the story unfolds in the Nazareth synagogue.
It’s Jesus’ custom to go to church every week. He would maintain this custom throughout His life and travels. On this particular Sabbath, Jesus goes with family, friends, and neighbors to worship in His hometown synagogue.
We need to make a note here: Jesus, GOD, does not go fishing or golfing or shopping during synagogue time. Jesus does not seek to worship God “in His own way,” choosing to be somewhere else. Instead, Jesus does as God desires. He is in God’s house on the Lord’s Day. We might imagine that being the Son of God, Jesus would not benefit from attending such a worship service. Yet, this is precisely what He does. He sees hearing the Word as important!
During the usual service, Scripture was read and expounded on by the leader of the synagogue or by a guest. On this day, Jesus is invited to read and comment. So, standing before the people (folks He would have grown up with), He opens the scroll to Isaiah 61. With the folks excited at His return, He begins to read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (vs. 18–19).
When He finished, Jesus rolled up the scroll and sat down. (Rabbi’s taught sitting down in those days.) Then He dropped the bombshell: “Today,” He said, “this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (v 21).
At first, the people were ok with this. In fact, “all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth” (v 22). But as they thought more about what Jesus said, they were offended.
The mood changed quickly. Jesus sensed this and even anticipated their wrath. You can just imagine what they were saying in the congregation: “How can this carpenter’s son claim to be the Christ, the Savior of God?” “This impostor came from down the street, not from heaven!” “How dare he claim to be equal to God?” The people were unconvinced and up in arms as they thought that Jesus blasphemed the holy name of God.
What they failed to realize, what they would not consider, is that Jesus is, in fact, the Son of God, the fulfillment of all of God’s promises, just as He said. Caiaphas and the other religious leaders would come to the same conclusion and used it to justify Jesus’ crucifixion. It’s just too much to believe that this ordinary hometown Jewish man is God’s own Son.
Now, it appears that the people were offended that Jesus performed signs in nearby Capernaum but not for them in His hometown. A previous visit to Capernaum, not mentioned by Luke, must have preceded this recorded visit to Nazareth. Jesus then said, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” “Truly, I say to you,” He continued, “no prophet is acceptable in his hometown” (v 23).
Jesus figured they would ask for proof, ask for a sign to back up His saying he is the Messiah. Jesus reminded them that many Gentiles in the years before were more receptive to God’s Word than the Nazarenes. “In truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian” (vs. 25–27).
This really ticked them off. Jesus is saying that just being one of the home folks of God’s people doesn’t get them a thing! They REALLY thought it did! And so, they rejected their famous son. They even tried to kill Him! They grabbed Him and dragged Him toward the hill on which the town was built, and it was their plan to throw Him off. Jesus eluded the crowd; they didn’t fulfill the evil in their hearts. But others did accomplish it. Their leaders later would crucify Jesus, despite their custom of providing liberty to a captive at Passover. A captive did go free while Jesus went to the executioner. “They all cried out together, ‘Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas’—a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!’. . . So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted” (23:18–21, 24).
Still, in the end, evil will fail to triumph over Christ. Jesus Christ triumphed over evil when God raised Him from the dead and received Him into His heavenly kingdom, fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy, and making it very clear that Jesus is the Christ of God.
Isn’t it horribly ironic that the very people who could see Jesus in person, those who knew Him best and lived near Him, refused to see Him as their Savior? How blind they were! And sadly, as far as we know, Jesus left Nazareth that day and never returned. Their rejection of Jesus seems to have been irreparable and complete.
What if Jesus came to our town this morning? What if He came to our church? What if He stood here in this pulpit and preached a sermon? Wouldn’t that be something? A wonderful opportunity to hear a message straight from God in heaven!
Today, Jesus has come to our town, as is His custom each week, and He is present with us in this house of God. Today, Jesus is present with us in His Word and in the Sacraments. Today, in God’s house, Jesus “proclaim[s] good news” to all who are poor in spirit. Here each week, “the Spirit of the Lord” is upon us, to release us from the oppression of our guilt and sin. Here each week, Jesus offers “recovering of sight” for spiritual blindness, so all might see Him clearly as their Savior, whose forgiveness sets them free from fear and death. Today, you see, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. Yes,
We Hear from Jesus Himself during Our Worship Service on This and Every Lord’s Day.
Therefore, since it remains “the year of the Lord’s favor,” may His Spirit be upon us all. And may our presence in our Lord’s house today strengthen us for the week to come, as again Jesus says to us, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing!” Jesus is the Son of God. He is your Savior. He is here for you every Sunday.