Monday, January 22, 2007

He didn't read it right.

Luke 4:14-21

Our celebrant on Sunday shed new light on that old adage "You can never go home again" as the Gospel from Luke points out so well. Jesus has finished his time of testing in the desert and he's full of the Spirit (and probably himself) and has come back to Galilee. Everything is going just fine until he shows up in his own home town, Nazareth. He goes to church, stands up to read, and reads from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. According to Luke (4: 18-19) he reads: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has annointed me to bring good news to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. And then he sits back down. If you haven't cross-referenced that with the actual passage from Isaiah, you're probably thinking... okay, so?

But listen to this: (Isaiah 61: 1-2) The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has annointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God...

He didn't read it right.

The part about vengeance he omits completely, and he adds something actually from Isaiah 42... the part about opening the eyes of the blind. The actual passage is: Isaiah 42:7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

These were assigned readings. People had heard them over and over and would have noticed the difference. No wonder all eyes of the entire assembly were fixed on him. He didn't get to pick and choose what he wanted, yet he did it anyway. He rearranged the verses, and in so doing, reinterpreted the Torah. I always thought they were just insulted because he implied that he was the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophesy, but it was much more serious than that.

I get angry when soapbox preachers take the words of Scripture out of context and use them to support their own narrow views of right and wrong, hell and damnation. Yet Jesus was taking the words of Scripture and putting them into a new context... much more dangerous. There would be no day of vengeance on this Messiah's watch, his message was one of reconciliation, of healing. The prison and the darkness and the blindness were all part of the mindset he was here to overturn. Not exactly the message they were hoping for. Still isn't.


Zanne said...

Wow that's fascinating! There is so much in scripture that the idea of being able to definitively proclaim what it says without some kind of course of study seems sacriligious to me. Thanks for sharing!!

PS My mom wanted to comment on your blog post about the laughter but couldn't quite figure it out. This is what she wrote:
Hi Tried to send a message of Love through Clair joy to Sister Mary Christobel and her web would not accept my message saying something about URL. Tell her I loved the pictureof her and All the Sisters She looks wonderful.

PPS Rudolph you are not! (or that other thing either) ;)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful observation. Thank you for breaking open the word for us, CJ!