We are now on our eighteenth day in the New Testament. It’s been an amazing journey, especially to see the variations of the gospel accounts. Today’s reading is Luke 4-6.
And it is here where freedom begins.
Jesus has a unique mission, through the pen of Luke. And it’s simple.
Here it is, in Luke 4:18, 19:
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 freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
A powerful vision. In a synagogue, at the beginning of his ministry, he reads from Isaiah 61. Yet he omits the final part of this passage.
Here is the passage in Isaiah 61:
The Spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God …
Jesus does not tell this synagogue audience that he would proclaim the day of vengeance of our God. He was holding the scroll. He saw that very line, and chose to omit it.
There were a host of pagan, Gentile enemies the Jewish people needed to be defeated. They fully and constantly expected a Messiah to deliver them from those Gentile enemies, and do so violently.
Yet Jesus, with his great omission, opens the door to great possibilities, and to a different view of salvation. His holy mission of freedom was available to everyone, Jew and Gentile. And, by doing so, his mission is attacked.
Because the first thing that happens to him, after his declaration of freedom in the synagogue in Nazareth, is a confrontation with a demon.
And this demon, speaking on behalf of all the evil spirits, is extremely bothered by Jesus’ teaching. Understand, Jesus was in the synagogue (now, in Capernaum) to teach — he was not in the countryside to heal. He wasn’t looking for a fight. Yet, with just a simple word from Jesus, the demon leaves the man, and Luke, known to us as a doctor, makes a careful note to let the reader know that possessed man wasn’t hurt at all.
So Jesus, through our reading today, continues his mission of freedom, first by freeing the possessed man. Then he freed a man from leprosy (5:12ff). Next, in Luke, he freed a man from paralysis (5:17ff). At the end of Luke 5, he freed a man, a tax collector, from being a social outcast (5:27ff).
Luke invites us on a journey with Jesus, then, as he fulfills his mission of freedom. Jesus frees people from demons. He frees them from illnesses. And he frees them from a broken human society.
He is making a community of those who have been freed. And this community is open to everyone, regardless of who they are, where they are from, or how they are seen by others. No power of hell, and no scheme of man, can keep these people from Jesus.
It reminds me of this song, by Nicole Nordeman, called “Please Come.” Take a listen, and use this as a soundtrack as you read Luke 5.
So take heart. There is room enough for all of us.
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