Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Jesus describes his ministry (Luke 4:16-22)

Obviously there is one huge difference between Jesus and other biblical teachers and that is while they share the same subject (his person and work) they do so from very different perspectives. He focuses on himself and has to present himself as central to what God is doing, which is different from others doing it from a third party viewpoint. For example, if he was teaching about creation in Genesis 1, he would know that he was describing his own activity because everything was made by him.
The passage that he chose to read in the synagogue in Nazareth from Isaiah is a summary of his calling as the Messiah. In it, we can see some features mentioned that would become obvious in his teaching and practice. First, there is an allusion to the Trinity in verse 18, because Jesus refers to himself as the anointed one, to the Spirit as the one with which he was anointed, and to the Father as the one who anointed him. It is unlikely that the listeners in Nazareth would have made that connection at that time, but we can make it because we know what Jesus subsequently taught. One reason why he had come was to teach about God.
Second, he had come to engage in a ministry of compassion. Whatever we make of the people described as poor, captives, blind and oppressed, those terms indicate people with a variety of needs. Jesus was claiming that he would provide the remedy for their ills. Often we tend to ask how Jesus did this and assume that he must be referring to spiritual needs because we know that he did not physically deliver every individual from those needs. It is the case that poverty, enslavement, blindness and oppression describe what has happened to people in a spiritual sense because of sin.
Third, he announced that a perfect world was coming when all the consequences of sin, including physical ones, would be gone forever. Obviously, this stage has not yet happened, which means that Jesus was not describing only his ministry on earth during the following three years. Since the time he made this announcement, he has been engaged in delivering people from the consequences of sin, and we can say that at present he is also working towards the coming of the perfect world.

Fourth, Jesus stressed that he had a ministry of proclamation because the passage he cited mentions that aspect three times. While he does mention other actions, he stresses the role of proclamation. Maybe he chose this passage because people were focussing on the miracles that had been reported in connection with him. Whether that was the case or not, we can see that Jesus wanted people to listen to what he had to say.

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