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Friday, July 16, 2010

Conversations on Christ: Jesus in the Nazareth Synagogue

July’s Conversation on Christ discussed Jesus’s use of Isaiah 61:1-2 in the synagogue at Nazareth. Pastor Lange made the following remarks.

After Jesus was Baptized by John and the Holy Spirit had anointed Him visibly in the form of a dove, Jesus began His public ministry. Soon He journeyed to Nazareth with a purpose: to read to them from Isaiah 61. Whether by timing his visit to their lectionary schedule or by choosing the passage Himself, it was not by chance that these words are the subject of His first sermon in the town of His fleshly ancestry.

The Spirit of the Lord LORD (Yahweh / Kyrie) is upon Me because
The LORD (Yahweh / Kyrie) has anointed (Messiah / Christ) Me
to bring good news to the poor
He has sent (Shaliach / Apostle) Me
to bind up the brokenhearted
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, (61:1-2)

In these brief verses, Jesus Trinitarian Mission is stated plainly  and underscored three times.
1) The Spirit of the Father is upon Him (the Son).
2) He (Son) is Anointed / Christed / Messiahed by the Father Himself.
3) He (Son) is Sent as the Shaliach / Apostle / Ambassador of the Father Himself.

With this beginning, Jesus indicates that everything to follow in His earthly life, death and resurrection... is the full and complete revelation of the Holy Trinity Father, Son and Holy Spirit are acting subjects in all His preaching and healing.

Don't forget that these words are spoken in the town of Mary and Joseph, His parents according to the human nature. In fact, a more careful look at the context of Isaiah 61, reveals that His human nature is emphasized there also.

If you inquire, “who is the Me being anointed and sent in 61:1?” Isaiah Himself answers clearly, “I, the LORD (Yahweh) am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob...” (60:16)

The Mighty One of Jacob is the subject of this whole passage. (This Person is also named in Gn 49:24; Ps 132:2, 5; Is 1:24; 49:26) “Of Jacob” means that He is of the flesh of Jacob whose name was changed to Israel. And yet, this Man is clearly identified with the Lord (Yahweh). He is also called Savior (from Jeshuah) and Redeemer.

The Mighty One upon whom the Spirit of the Father rests, is none other than the actual man born of the lineage of Jacob. Here the clear teaching of the Holy Trinity is coupled with an equally clear statement of the two natures of Christ.

And this God/Man is Sent and Anointed for very specific work...
to bring good news
to bind up
to proclaim liberty
to open the prison
to proclaim the jubilee

And not only is His activity specified, but in each case, the object of His activity is specific. Jesus is Sent and Anointed to do all these wonderful things to ...

the poor
the brokenhearted
the captives
those in prison
all who mourn

As Jesus will put it in the following chapter (5:31): “they that are whole need no physician, but they that are sick.” (This saying ought not to be overlooked when you hear Jesus reference the proverb, “Physician heal thyself.”)

This means that if the Christ is to be for me, I must be numbered with the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, the prisoners and the mournful. It means that if the Gospel is to be for my hearers, they too must be numbered with the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, the prisoners and the mournful.

If the focus of my preaching directs my hearers to think only of monetary poverty, they cannot, by any stretch of the imagination be the subjects of Jesus' Gospel. If I am thinking of the captives and the prisoners to be in jail cells or in ghettos, I am exempted from Jesus' liberation. If I am thinking of brokenheartedness and mourning only in terms of social injustice, I am not the object of Jesus' bandaging and comforting.

But as I come to see and know...
my true poverty -- without Christ or His Word
my true brokenheartedness and sorrow -- over sin
my true captivity -- to the devil
my true prison -- of my fallen will
Then, the Christ's coming is most assuredly for me.

Thus, the Mighty One of Jacob, the Man from Nazareth has come to bring me good news, bind me up, set me free, and proclaim my liberty. And if it is the Man from Jacob, the human offspring of Mary and the legal son of Joseph who is doing these things to is the work of the Father Himself, who, through the Spirit sends and anoints His only-begotten Son to do these things through the flesh and blood of Jesus, the Son of Mary and Joseph, the Man from Nazareth.

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