Summary: We are Jesus body in the world. The glory of God is made manifest through us. We sit on David’s throne, to lead and command the nations. We are his beautiful people.
Sermon by Rev Heather Cetrangolo
Jesus was standing in the synagogue, in Nazareth, and he read from Isaiah 61 …
After he read the passage, he rolled up the scroll, he gave it to the attendant, everyone was staring at him and he said, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
I love that moment … I think because, I imagine, that the scene at the synagogue wouldn’t have been that different to our church gathering here this morning … except that the men and women would have sat separately and the music wouldn’t have been as good and they didn’t have powerpoint, but apart from that …
I can see women gathering at the back with their friends, and catching up on news (which happens here every week) … I can see kids running around outside, thinking “when do we get to eat?” I can see younger men sitting in the front row learning the scripture. I can see the majority of the congregation kind of glazing over as the scripture reading starts, kind of half listening, or hearing the first verse and thinking, ‘oh yeah, I know that one’ … and then young Jesus, who is just like Jamin or Nic or Abel-John … just a young man who everyone knows and people have watched him grow up and do his apprenticeship and make his Bar-Mitzvah …
… he gets up and says, ‘the prophecy has been fulfilled today’ … and people are thinking, ah, ‘Jesus, you’re not supposed to preach, just read the reading and sit down’ … or his brothers and sisters are thinking, ‘what is our embarrassing brother doing now?’ … and some people are thinking, ‘yeah he’s always been a bit strange this one, thinks he’s got a gift of prophecy or something …’
And yet, in that ordinary place, amongst those ordinary people … because of a seemingly ordinary man … the prophecy was indeed fulfilled, in their hearing.
Today’s passage from Isaiah, chapter 55, is all about a prophecy that is being fulfilled as we meet here today. We have just in the last two weeks of this teaching series, shifted into a second section of Isaiah … having moved pretty quickly through over a hundred years of history, from the year of King Uzziah through King Ahaz’s reign, the Assyrian conquest of the northern kingdom, and King Hezekiah’s faithfulness to God …
We have now come to a section of Isaiah that is almost exclusively about the future. The Lord revealed to Isaiah prophecies about things that hadn’t happened yet, and the plan he had to save Israel … this plan included the Babylonian conquest of the southern kingdom (which happened) about a hundred years later … as well as something that happened about six hundred years later …
Six hundred years later, a young carpenter, was reading from the prophecy at a tiny little synagogue, in Nazareth. He said he was the one who had been anointed to save Israel.
He fulfilled the promise that we read today in Isaiah 55:3 – “I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.”
Notice there the Lord says, “I will” … it’s a statement about the future … he is going to make a new covenant (that will look like the covenant that he made with David, but will in fact be a new covenant with Israel). To understand how this has unfolded we have to understand the history of God’s covenant faithfulness …
God’s Covenant Faithfulness
A covenant is simple a promise … and God makes five particularly significant promises throughout the Old Testament .. (I’m gonna run through these really quickly)
1. To Noah and all living creatures – Gen 9 – promises not to destroy the earth
- Means that however God’s going to respond to the problems of this world, he will do it on earth (effectively he is not going to give up on his creation)
2. To Abraham – Gen 12 - 17 – promises to give him descendants, land, to make his name great and that his descendants will be a blessing for the whole earth
- On the earth that God created, he is going to create a blessed nation who will be a blessing to other nations
3. To Israel – Mt Sinai – Exodus 19-24 – God promises to make Israel a holy nation (19:6) if they obey him (he gives the law)
At this point in scripture we are given a new detail about God’s plan … not only that he gave the law and the sacrificial system by which he will forgive their sins (which is what we tend to emphasise when we study this covenant) … but God’s plan for this nation is to make it holy