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January 12

Luke 4, 20-24

Something to read

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ He said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, "Doctor, cure yourself!" And you will say, "Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum." ’ And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town.
New Revised Standard Version

Something to think about

Things start so well in this passage. Jesus, having read Isaiah, tells them that Isaiah’s vision is now a reality amongst them. What might that mean? No prison has suddenly sprung open. No one locked in poverty has received marvellous riches. There don’t seem to be newly sighted blind people celebrating in the synagogue.

The clue, perhaps, comes in verse 19. Isaiah speaks of the year of the Lord’s favour. That, for everyone listening to Jesus, would ring bells. Such a year is part of the biblical agenda for God’s nation. We find it in Leviticus chapter 25; a Year of Jubilee.

After 49 years, Israel is told, God requires a jubilee year in which bondage becomes freedom; debts are to be written off and slaves are to be released. Jesus, it seems, is announcing that such an incredible moment has dawned. God is beginning a time of setting free and it will revolve around the person and life of Jesus.

Then things take a nastier turn. The synagogue congregation like Jesus eloquence. Maybe they like the idea of being at the very centre of this incredible time of liberation. Maybe we like the idea of being the centre of God’s activity too.

But Jesus has a warning. The hardest place for the prophet to be is the prophet’s home. How might this be a warning for us? Perhaps this text alerts us to the fact that we can take God for granted and assume God will act for us. We let go of God’s sovereignty and mystery and turn God into our own personal idol; a holy and personal fixer.

Something to do

As you go about your day try going a little slower. Walk less rapidly. Take a moment to take in the familiar sights and sounds and smells. What might you be taking for granted? Let yourself be amazed by something, and give thanks to God for it.

Something to pray

We pray for Jubilee.
We pray for that release and liberation that your children have hoped for across the generations.
We long for it to become a reality and not just a beautiful picture in our Bibles.
Holy God, holy and mighty,
we pray for your Jubilee to sweep across creation and undo what destroys and harms,
what ensnares and stifles.
Jesus saw the Jubilee begin.
Draw us into living as if this was our manifesto too.

Today's contributor is the Rev Neil Thorogood, Principal of Westminster College, Cambridge


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