And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. (Luke 4:16-21 ESV)
This story has always fascinated me…the day when Christ publicly declared, to those who knew Him and his story most intimately, that they did not know him at all. As for their reaction, well, I for one can relate. It is a rather large leap of logic to go from knowing someone as “the carpenter’s son” to understanding, or much less believing his claims to be the Son of God, the Messiah, the fulfillment of thousands of years of promise. Not only did he claim to be the son of God, but he also claimed to be the culmination of his people’s hopes and aspirations, the completion of the promise for the people of promise.
As these fascinations tend to do in my world, it launched me onto a search through Holy Writ to understand more about this specific prophecy, and why it resonated so strongly with the believers of Christ’s day. In it all, I have become somewhat enamored of this book of Isaiah, so often quoted in the New Testament. The message that he brought of hope in the midst of hopelessness, of absolute truth in the quagmire of pluralistic relativism, of my great sin and the promise of a greater Savior, the tales of worship that filled all the motions yet was rejected by Creator God….resonates with me. For our day, for our time, for our people- we have been given much, a legacy, a heritage, and yet we, like Israel in Isaiah’s time, stand on the brink of a world changing more quickly than we can bear to contemplate. We like that, are coming to the realization that we live in a culture that we no longer can understand, that inevitably brings us to a place of despair and deep sorrow for our future. Through it all, our only hope as Isaiah says, is the God who uses the heavens as his throne and the earth as his footstool. In that place, covered by the promises of that God, is where we can find true rest, true peace and true comfort.
If you want to learn more, join us starting in February for a new sermon series, where we will be taking a long walk through “Isaiah: Liberty for a World of Sinners. “. We would love to see you there.