Submitted by Visitor (not verified) on Fri, 22/01/2010 – 14:41
Year C (2009-2010)
Bible Book: Luke / Lukas
Chapter: 4
Verse: 14 – 21

In the world of public service, much attention is given to a new leader’s inaugural speech. Much has been written about president Obama’s first address as president of the United States. Congregants pay careful attention to the new minister or pastor’s first sermon to find clues about what to expect from his ministry.

When Luke wrote his gospel, he decided to introduce Jesus’ ministry differently than the introductions we find in Mark and Matthew. He tells the story of Jesus’ visit to his home synagogue. In this “inaugural sermon” Jesus discloses to the people amongst whom he has grown up what He intends doing. The sermon highlights the clear purpose of His public ministry.

Luke 4:18 and 19 is the “text” of Jesus’ sermon. This cannot be the full passage Jesus read, for it combines Isaiah 61:1-2 with 58:6. Jesus takes these remarkable passages from two well-known chapters of the prophecy of Isaiah and applies the message to Himself. “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (RSV), is Lukes’ summary of Jesus’ sermon.

When paying closer attention to Luke 4:18-19, it becomes clear that these verses describe the essence of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus comes to minister to the poor, the captives, the blind and the oppressed. In other words, those who live on the margins or the outside of their communities, physically or spiritually. Those who are rejected, for one reason or another. Jesus is anointed by the Holy Spirit to bring the good news to those who need it the most. Jesus is the good news for them and for us.

Jesus reveals God’s embracing grace (cf v 19) and the full implications thereof we discover in his crucifixion and resurrection.

Jesus’ inaugural sermon in Luke 4 asks our careful attention. It is much more than an indication of what to expect in the rest of this gospel. It is the “plumb line” that we should use regularly to check whether we are building correctly in God’s Kingdom.

To think about or discuss: How does the purpose you have for your ministry compare with Luke 4:17-18? Who are the people in your community who live physically or spiritually on the margin?

Author: N du Toit (Ds)
Language: English