The Spirit of the Lord is upon me

Luke 4:14-21 (Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10, Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a)
Two weeks ago, we read that:
… when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21-22).
In this week’s text we read that
Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone (Luke 4:14-15).
We can see why word had spread about him; and we can see clearly that the Holy Spirit remained with him and filled him. Or, as a more literal translation of verse 14 would put it, Jesus was “armed with the Holy Spirit.” Thus armed, Jesus began to teach, and with great initial success. And then he went home….
In Luke 4:24, just beyond todays text, Jesus states, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.” And so, when we hear in verse 16 that Jesus “came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up,” there is a wee bit of foreboding in the air – this isn’t going to go well. And it doesn’t.
Jesus preaches in front of a home crowd – it’s likely that he knew the names of everyone in attendance, and that they knew him from his infancy. A scroll of Sacred Scripture is given to him. He doesn’t ask for it specifically, so perhaps it was an assigned text – if so, it is most providential. In Luke’s account, passages of Isaiah 58 and 61 are conflated, and some sections are omitted, in particular: “to bind up the brokenhearted… and the day of vengeance of our God: (Isaiah 61:1-2). There will be a lot of heartbreak in Jesus’ ministry, and the “day of vengeance” is not part of Jesus’ proclamation in this “coming.”
Isaiah’s prophetic message was well-known in the time when Jesus preached in Nazareth. It was a messianic text; believed by the Essene community – of Dead Sea Scroll fame – to refer to the Teacher of Righteousness for whom they waited and yearned. The folks listening to Jesus would have had a similar thought (and yearning) in mind when he sat down (assuming the position of one who was about to teach), and scandalized them by saying, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (vs. 21). Jesus claims that the Holy Spirit has anointed him through his baptism, and that he is the one for whom they have been waiting – him, the local kid, the contractor’s son, Mary’s boy!
And, he scandalizes us still. This wounded healer; this king like no other, with a cross for a throne and thorns for a crown. The infinite existing in the finite. The Word that became flesh. The scandal of particularity! The Christ who proclaims that:
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 (vs. 18-19).
Pastor Ken+