This is my initial observation of the text for this week’s sermon from Luke 4:16-30. The image is a screen capture from my notes in Logos. I’m offering this post as a kind of “behind-the-scenes, making-of” peek into how a sermon is crafted. The first step is to employ basic observation skills (see How to Study the Bible for more on this).
Working Sermon Title: Good News, Bad News
(we have to publish a blurb by Tuesday morning for the website. This puts pressure to write something that is accurate enough to capture the text, but vague enough to allow the sermon to evolve over the week)
Are you the kind of person who would rather hear the good news or the bad news first? Our story this week has some good news and bad news, depending on who’s asking.
Jesus returns to his home town and preaches the Good News that he is the Messiah who would fulfill all the prophecies and set the oppressed people free. The people loved him, because they were definitely oppressed. Home town boy does good!
Then he pulls a fast one on them. He lets them know that the “year of the Lord’s favor” isn’t just for them. They weren’t going to get special treatment just because they were from his home town, or even because they were children of Abraham.
God’s Good News is for everyone, even the Gentiles! All people are equal in God’s eyes.
This was bad news for the people of Nazareth. They became angry and tried to kill Jesus.
Join us this week as we explore our own sense of entitlement and privilege. How far are we willing to extend God’s favor in our own world?
Lk 4:16–22 The Good News
in Luke 4:16-22 Jesus connects the people to a very familiar passage from Isaiah 61:1-2. This was a vision of what the Messiah’s kingdom would look like when he came to restore Israel. The people of Nazareth were very excited that their hometown boy claimed to be the one who would make this happen.
Is 61:1–2 The Prophecy of Isaiah
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed 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;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
The Trinity is Present
Lk 4:18 “The Spirit
Lk 4:18 the Lord
Lk 4:18 me
The “me” is the Messiah.
This was reflected in Jesus’ baptism in Luke 3:21-22
Lk 4:18 anointed
The Messiah is the anointed one.
What will the Messiah do?
Lk 4:18 bring good news
euangelizo = evangelize = bring good news
Lk 4:18 poor
What would be good news for poor people? The most logical answer is that they would no longer be destitute and would know that their basic needs would be met.
Lk 4:18 release
aphesis = let go = forgive
Lk 4:18 captives
a prisoner of war
Lk 4:18 the blind
Why does Luke insert this phrase into Isaiah 61? There are many places in Isaiah where he says the blind will see, but not in this passage.
Lk 4:18 oppressed
This is the only occurrence of this word in the New Testament.
Lk 4:18 free
aphesis = let go = forgive
Lk 4:19 the year of the Lord’s favor.
this is the Year of Jubilee
Lk 4:19 favor
dektos same as Luke 4:24
Le 25:8 The Year of Jubilee
Jubilee means ram’s horn or trumpet. It is the year you blow the horn and announce release for all past debts. Every family is restored. It’s the big reset button.
The Year of Jubilee figured significantly in the theology of Jesus as it is related in the Gospel of Luke. The rejection of Jesus in Nazareth (4:16–30), an event which is programmatic for the Gospel of Luke, makes extensive use of themes related to the OT prescription of a Year of Jubilee (Ex 21:2–6; 23:10–12; Lev 25; Deut 15:1–18; 31:9–13), especially as those themes were already incorporated into Isaiah 58:6; 61:1–2, the text which was read and sermonically elaborated by Jesus (4:18–21).
The Jubilee year is best understood as an intensified Sabbath Year, announced on the Day of Atonement every fifty years as a “sabbath year of sabbath years.” The Sabbath Year legislation had three basic provisions, to which a fourth was added in a Jubilee Year: (1) the freeing of all slaves; (2) the cancellation of all debts; (3) the fallowing of the land; and (4) in a Year of Jubilee, the return of all land according to the original Mosaic distribution.
The “release” of the land was the central provision of the Jubilee code. If, because of indebtedness, a Hebrew was forced to sell his property, the sale was not to be a permanent alienation of the land, but more like a lease; the price of the property was determined according to the number of harvests remaining between the time of sale and the next Year of Jubilee (Lev 25:13–17).
R. B. Sloan, “Jubilee,” ed. Joel B. Green and Scot McKnight, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 396.
Lk 4:21 “Today this scripture … in your hearing.”
Jesus boldly proclaims that he is the anointed one. He takes on the “me” in Luke 4:18.
Lk 4:21 Today
see Luke 2:11 “this day” siemeron can mean era as well as literal sunrise to sunset.
Lk 4:22 All spoke well of him
the people are very pleased that a man from their village will be the long-awaited Messiah. “Look, it’s Joe’s boy. He’s made something of himself.”
Lk 4:23–30 The Bad News
In Luke 4:23-30 Jesus picks a fight with the people of Nazareth. He puts words into their mouths, expecting them to want him to perform the same miracles that he did in Capernaum (he apparently had already been working there, but Luke hasn’t told us that yet).
Then Jesus proceeds to remind them that Elijah healed the Gentile woman’s son (1 Kings 17:8-24) and Elisha healed Namaan, the Gentile commander, of leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-19). Jesus reminds the people of Nazareth that the “year of God’s favor” is not just for the nation of Israel, and that they, as his home town, will not get special treatment over and above the Gentiles.
It seems that this equality with Gentiles is what turns the people against Jesus.
Lk 4:24 accepted
dektos same as Luke 4:19. Jesus does not find favor with the people, because God finds favor with Gentiles. That’s ironic.
End of Phase One
Now that I’ve done initial observation, the next step is to sketch out the big ideas (for me this means to literally draw a picture). I’ll work on that later today, hopefully.
I hope you found this interesting and/or helpful.