I was looking at Jesus’ synagogue reading from Isaiah 61:1-2 that is found in Luke 4:18-19 and something hit me that I had not really considered before. Maybe I had not considered it because it was just too obvious, I am not sure but it hit me right between the eyes. In this passage that sums up how Jesus understood his earthly mission (“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”) Jesus doesn’t even flinch or balk as he reads these words from Isaiah. He is matter of fact. He is confident that this will be. There is not a hint or a shadow of a doubt that he is able to do these things because he is, after all, God in the flesh. It is not that I ever doubted his miracles happened. It is not that I thought maybe Jesus didn’t have much power. It is just the opposite. It is refreshing and faith building to hear the confidence in which he talks about his upcoming miracles. It is refeshing to hear him say they will happen and then read about them happening. If we had a list of things to do, they would normally be feasible for us to accomplish. If someone handed us a to do list and it read as follows:
Thursday July 13, 2006
Proclaim good news to the poor
Proclaim freedom for prisoners
Give sight to the blind
Set the (spiritually) oppressed free
Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
While we might find ourselves able to proclaim what needs proclaiming, what Jesus did was more. He provided the impetus for the good news. He provided the means for the freedom and release for the prisoners and oppressed. These actions require so much power, so much skill, so much perfection that our jaws would drop to the floor because we would be hopelessly incapable. Not Jesus. For Jesus, his power is so sufficient that it is ordinary and a no-brainer in his thinking that these things will be. He can give sight to the blind just as easily as we can take out the trash or write our name on a piece of paper. And what is more, he is not invested in restoring physical things. He is able to restore our spiritual nature as well. Just one more thing that reminds us of his power and perfection. Just one more reminder that the God we serve is faithful and able to restore us to the glory he made us to possess and not because of our great acts (or should I say our rather puny acts) but because it is his desire for us.
What makes it even more astonishing is that these acts of generosity are not doled out to “the elite.” They are given to the poor, prisoners, blind, and oppressed. Once again, Jesus turns our upside down way of thinking right side up and gives our perspective a shaking that we often need in order to remember his priorities and his mission for the world.
I remember Monte Cox talking about this question a couple times in classes. He says that of all the episodes in Scripture (parting the red sea, raising Lazarus/Jesus from the dead, crucifixion, etc.), this is the one he would have liked to see. And for the reasons you mentioned — His boldness & the hint in his announcement that this will be an upside-down Kingdom. Yeah, Luke 4 is a good one.