January 20th: “God’s Mission Needs a Church”

I. Establish the text

A. Select the Pericope: Luke 4:14 – 21

C. Other texts for Year C for Sunday within January 21 – 27

D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

14 This shows a passage of time between his baptism and this episode. How might we react to someone filled with the power of the Holy Spirit?

15 This episode is not his first teaching episode.

16 This would be a normal custom for a young male to read in the Temple.

17 Big Temple! Not every place would have more than the Torah.

18-19 Who picked this passage? Or more precisely, through whom did the Holy Spirit work to point to this passage?
The pericope invites analysis of this selection from Isaiah rather than the town’s reaction
to his subsequent rebuke. What is our purpose as related to God’s purpose and mission?

20 Imagine a child of the congregation returning home, having gained favorable notoriety.

21 A summary of his sermon.

E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?

  • This passage follows Jesus sojourn in the desert, while being tempted by the devil, following his baptism. Thus this is Jesus’ first interactions with people in his ministry.
  • The townspeople discredited Jesus then he denied authority to do works in Nazareth, resulting in the Nazarenes throwing him out.

F. What parallel passages exist? How do they differ? How does this author’s intent differ from other authors? Is the text used elsewhere?

  • Mark 1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
  • Matthew 13:54-58; Mark 6:1-6 – Place Jesus’ ministry in Nazareth later and omit an initial positive reception.

II. Literary Study.

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

  • Center of Gravity: What is God’s mission today? How does our mission statement and implementation track with this passage from Isaiah?
  • Emotional Center:
  • Music: Hymnal #332 “Live Into Hope”

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

Fred B. Craddock (Interpretation: Luke. JKP, 1990.) concludes that Luke placed this event out of historical order, “sacrificing chronology” to make a programmatic statement. He notes that Jesus’s first public word, after reading Scripture, is “today.” He opines that throughout Luke-Acts “ ‘today’ is never allowed to become ‘yesterday’ or slip again in to a vague ‘someday.’ ” He reflects that the church subsequently has continued to receive this word, much like the original hearers in Nazareth, with admiration, wonder, and doubt.

R. Alan Culpepper (The New Interpreter’s Bible, “The Gospel of Luke.” Abingdon, 1995.) compared Luke’s rendering of what Jesus read with the Septuagint and found “to bind up the brokenhearted” omitted from Isaiah 61:1 and “to let the oppressed go free” added from Isaiah 58:6 with a change of tense to match the infinitives in the preceding verses. He also notes the continuation of the theme of good new for the poor from the Magnificat and in later teachings.

Rosalind Banbury (The Presbyterian Outlook, “Who is Jesus?” August 11, 2008, p. 18.) affirms the interpretation of “the year of the Lord’s favor” as referring to the Jubilee Year, the periodic return of property proscribed in Leviticus.

James H. Price (The Presbyterian Outlook, “Luke’s mission statement” July 25/Aug. 1, 2005, p. 17) cautions interpreters not to read this passage in light of Mark 6:2-3. In Luke’s version of Jesus’ preaching in his home town the people’s reactions can be classified as positive until he compares them to the people that Elijah and Elisha could not minister with. None-the-less, he concludes: “This passage is not about the Jewish rejection of Jesus, but about the peril of our missing ‘today’ the vision of God’s grace that surpasses the bounds of what we deem appropriate.”

Carol M. Bechtel (The Presbyterian Outlook, “When God Steps Off the Screen” December 1988, p. 41.) compares this passage to Woody Allen’s film The Purple Rose of Cairo, where a character in the film within the film steps off the screen to dialog with a woman in the audience. She asks: “How many times does Jesus step off the screen on a Sunday morning without our taking any notice?”

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

Jesus shifts from merely being a spiritual leader to God incarnate and declares his mission statement.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

Hearers are called to experience Jesus fulfilling this mission statement, not only for the people of Nazareth 2000 years ago, but especially for us today.

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