3rd Sunday of Epiphany Reflection
A morning prayer – Faithful God, whose mercies are new to us every morning, we humbly pray that You would look upon us in mercy and renew us by Your Holy Spirit. Keep safe our going out and our coming in, and let Your blessings remain with us throughout this day. Preserve us in Your righteousness and grant us a portion in that eternal life which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This Sunday Jesus begins his public ministry by proclaiming release (aphesis) to captives and the oppressed. He announces that today - in his hearers’ presence -- the prophecy of Isaiah has been fulfilled, and the year of the Lord’s favor has come.
The Theme for Epiphany 3 is “The Purpose of Your Life.” In the Old Testament lesson Ezra the scribe reads the Book of the Law in the presence of the people. Reading from the Book of the Law brought tears to the people. Their purpose was to be directed by the Word of the Lord. In the Epistle lesson Paul reminds us that by the Spirit Christians are members of one body. In the Gospel lesson Jesus finds His purpose in Isaiah’s words. The Hymn of the Day is a prayer asking the Christian to ever walk near to the Lord.
When Jesus opens His mouth to preach, gracious words flow from His lips. "The Scriptures are, indeed, fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:21–22). For Christ was anointed by the Spirit of the Lord “to proclaim good news to the poor,” “to proclaim liberty to the captives,” and “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19).
By reading from Isaiah 61 and declaring the acceptable year of the Lord, Jesus recalls the year of Jubilee. According to Leviticus 25, the year of Jubilee is a year of release. Every 50 years, God’s people are to observe a Sabbath of Sabbaths: “you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.” The law of Jubilee is designed to transform society and undo the damage that human greed has caused: it frees people who have been enslaved because of debt, and it returns land to its original owners so that every member of God’s people has a way of earning a living. During the year of Jubilee all the people return to their property and their families. Both land and people rest, and the people live off what the land produces by itself.
By this proclamation, Christ releases His people from captivity and gathers them to Himself in His Church. So it was when the Lord released His people from Babylon and returned them to Jerusalem. “Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people,” sanctified the whole congregation by the reading and preaching of the Law (Nehemiah 8:8–9).
As the people then were urged to “eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready” (Nehemiah 8:10), so are you anointed by the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ to share in His feast and to serve the fellow members of His Body with His good gifts, “giving greater honor to the part that lacked it” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 24).
In Nazareth Jesus is now recognized as mature, (30 years of age) a consecrated Rabbi. Where he was raised. These are the people who saw Him grow up.
Jesus preaches good news and forgives. A lot of creed here. Not a social justice mandate. It is Christ doing it himself. It involved preaching...proclaiming the year of the Lord's welcome. Jesus is God's address to the world. He proclaims victory. See 1 Peter 3:19
How did the people respond to the sermon? See Vv. 20-23"This is Joseph's son is it not?" To bear witness is to speak of what you know.”This can't be the Christ, we remember him, as Joseph's son. What are these words of grace coming from his mouth?”
And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘“Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’”
What was Jesus doing in Capernaum?
Can Jesus heal? Of course! But we dare not press Him, or demand of Him.
Why do you suppose the crowd reacted as they did? Does a miracle happen in Nazareth? How?
Compare and contrast the Old Testament Lesson and today’s Gospel.
A prayer for steadfast faith –Almighty God, our heavenly Father, of Your tender love towards us sinners You have given us Your Son that, believing in Him, we might have everlasting life. Continue to grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may remain steadfast in this faith to the end and come to life everlasting.