Summary: A sermon for the 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany Jesus is the Word of God
3rd Sunday after the Epiphany
The Word of God = Good News
14 ¶ And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a report concerning him went out through all the surrounding country.
15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read;
17 and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
18* "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."
20 And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.
21 And he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."RSV
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
During this season of Epiphany, the baby who was born in the manger on Christmas comes to live for us. During this season, we see who this child really is. We see Jesus in many different ways during this season. Last Sunday, we saw that he was concerned about his mother and wedding party he had attended. Jesus spent some time in a social context, he spent time with his family and with his friends. He spent days, not just a few moments of time that was his supposed duty, but Jesus valued the time he spent with his family, getting to know them, getting to see them as people and as friends.
And in today’s gospel lesson, we see Jesus in a different light. We see him in the synagogue and it was his turn to read. He turns to a passage in Isaiah and reads it. Then he sits down and begins to explain the passage, to bring the passage alive for the people.
To fully understand all the significance of this passage, we must first understand the Jewish synagogue system of worship. In the synagogue, sacrifice was not done. The synagogue was a place for teaching and reading. The temple in Jerusalem was the place for the priests to offer sacrifice to God, but in the synagogue, men came to learn. Another difference between the synagogue and the temple was in the temple the priests were in charge, but in the synagogue there were no priest, no preacher. Each man had an opportunity to participate in the time of reading and learning. A man would volunteer to read a passage from the scrolls of the Old Testament, and then afterwards, he would sit down and explain what those passages he read meant to him.
So on this day, Jesus was taking his turn in the synagogue to read the lesson and then to explain it. He picked a lesson that was very familiar to the Jews, a lesson that stirred up the hearts and the passions of all Jews. This passage from Isaiah, chapter 61, verse 2, was a passage of hope, a passage of deliverance, a passage that reminded the Jews that God was indeed still with them, still caring for them. This was a great passage to read, because it was one of the favorite passages from their ancient traditions.
Then Jesus hands the scroll back to the attendant to put away, returns to his seat, the eyes and the minds of the men present follow him, for they know that he will now explain the passage, he will teach this passage to them.
Jesus sits, and he begin to speak, and speak he does. He begins his sermon with the most amazing sentence, He really grabs their attention by saying, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Jesus is saying today he has fulfilled this scripture, today he is God’s salvation to the world.
Our text stops with this first line of his sermon, but next week we will have the rest of his sermon and the reaction of the men in the synagogue to his preaching. But today, we dwell only on Jesus’ first line, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Jesus is dropping a bomb shell on this congregation. He is shaking them up. He is telling them that he is God’s salvation in the world. Through him God’s deliverance, God’s promise of hope, God’s promise of freedom has come to his people. Jesus is revealing something about himself, he is making clear his mission, his calling, his task as he goes about his ministry on this earth. Jesus is setting the scope, the limits, the horizons of his ministry.