Red Letter Year: 6/28

Luke 4:14-30

14 Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. 15 He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

16 When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. 17 The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, 19 and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”

20 He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. 21 Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

22 Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. “How can this be?” they asked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

23 Then he said, “You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’ — meaning, ‘Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum.’ 24 But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown. 25 Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.”

28 When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. 29 Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, 30 but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.


There was one more difference in the temptation accounts that I saved for today. Both Mark and Matthew describe angels ministering to Jesus after the devil departs, but Luke leaves this out. Instead, the very next thing Luke tells us is that Jesus returned from that struggle full of the Holy Spirit, entered his hometown synagogue, and taught there. Mark and Matthew give an account of that visit too, though they place it later in their accounts, after Jesus has gone out and done some teaching and healing ministry in other places. Here in Luke, Jesus has yet to perform any miracles, which makes his statement in v.23 seem a little odd, referencing miracles that haven’t happened (in this telling) yet.

But Luke wanted to begin his account of Jesus’ public ministry in a dramatic, theme-setting way. Luke alone shares the content of that synagogue teaching, which amounts to a reading of Isa. 61 and the singular, boldly simple claim that the prophecy has been fulfilled that very moment. Luke gives us a summary statement, a programmatic statement of Jesus’ ministry as it is beginning. This is Jesus’ mission statement if you like.  His mission will be carried out in the Spirit’s power and anointing. His mission will focus on the poor, the imprisoned, the blind, and the oppressed. His mission is to bring in the long delayed Jubilee Year, the economic and social leveling both Mary and Zechariah prophesied about before.

The remainder of Luke’s Gospel (and to a large extent his second book – Acts – as well) may be best understood as an unpacking of verses 18 and 19 above. From Luke’s perspective, this comprises the very heart of the Gospel and should be our mission statement as much as it was for Jesus and the early church.

The New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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