Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What's missing?!

FROM MONDAY, 11/23...

"(Jesus) unrolled the scroll adn found the place where it was written: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me...'"
(Luke 4:17-18)

It was supposed to be a joyful homecoming.  The kid from Nazareth had returned.  Jesus was back.  He was home... and he was preaching.  Luke records this incident very early in Jesus' ministry career.  He comes to the synagogue for worship... gets up to read scripture... and selects Isaiah 61.  Great passage!  "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed 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."

The Hebrew community LOVED this passage from Isaiah.  It marked a future time when God's Chosen One would come and set everything right.  And Jesus quoted it exactly... almost.  You see, he left out one part from Isaiah 61:1-2.  He left out "and the day of vengeance of our God."  Simple oversight?  Perhaps.  Calculated omission?  Probably.  It helps to remember that the Jewish people had centuries of foreign occupation and rule.  They were frequently getting "dumped on" by others.  Surely  God would eventually exact revenge, right?  They looked forward to that vengeance.  But Jesus left it out.

It's interesting that the Eastern translation of Luke 4:22 says, "All spoke ill of him" (rather than the current "all spoke WELL" translation).  How could he intentionally leave out vengeance?  Jesus goes on to highlight God's blessings on two non-Jews (the widow @ Zarephath in Sidon and Namaan the Syrian)... which threw the hometown folks into a rage (v.28) and they turn into an angry mob, trying to throw Jesus off a cliff!

What caused this sudden turn of events?  I bet it goes back to Jesus' omission from Isaiah 61:2!  Everyone loves revenge... to get back at our enemies... to give it to those who've been giving it to us!  Jesus said no to that.  That's not the way.  Instead, he taught, try peace... reconciliation... tolerance... forgiveness... grace.  And that ticked everyone off.

I'm sure if he came to preach that same message today, WE would have a much different reaction, right?  (Right?!) Or would we?

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