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This Day this Scripture is Fulfilled

11 Sep
Spirit of the Lord is upon me -1

from Google Images

It is interesting that Matthew punctuates his entire Gospel with the theme of Christ fulfilling all things under the Old Covenant. Luke doesn’t do that. Rather, except for a few statements in the final week of Jesus’ public ministry, Luke brackets the whole of Jesus’ words and deeds between Luke 4:19 and 24:44 under the theme of what in Scripture was to be fulfilled. Here in Luke 4:19 Jesus claimed he was the Messiah by saying Isaiah 61 was fulfilled in the ears of his family and friends at Nazareth. Then in Luke 24:44 Jesus told his disciples in the upper room that all things in the Law, Prophets and Writings (Psalms) that were written about him had to have been fulfilled by him. Luke sets forth these two Scriptures as an inclusio.[1] That is, everything that falls between these two verses, he intends for us (and his addressee, Theophilus – Luke 1:3) to understand they concern Jesus fulfilling the Scriptures.

Jesus came to Nazareth full of the Spirit (Luke 4:14, 16), and all who heard him marveled at the words of grace that proceeded from his mouth (Luke 4:22; cf. Revelation 1:16; Ephesians 6:17). Nevertheless, although the Good News was preached (Luke 4:18), conflict ensued:[2] “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:22). In other words it was as though they claimed, “we know you, but no one knows how or from where the Messiah would come” (cf. John 7:27). This understanding of Jesus, however, is contradicted in John 9:29. It is a false and contradictory theology, no doubt representing some current Jewish tradition of Jesus’ day, which may, indeed, be derived from the rabbis claim: “Three come unawares: Messiah, a found article and a scorpion.”[3] Nevertheless, ample information is contained in the Scriptures to show the Messiah would be descended from David and be born in Bethlehem (Micah 2:5), which was understood by the Jewish scholars of Jesus’ day (cf. Matthew 2:5; John 7:42).

What I believe needs to be understood about Jesus’ reading and his claim that it refers to him is that he began preaching the Good News, the words of grace (Luke 4:22), there in Nazareth. His words of grace are embodied in the theme of Isaiah 61, from which Jesus read that Sabbath day. Although Jesus preached Good News—news of forgiveness and release from servitude—although Jesus preached this Good News, he was met with rejection—who do you think you are; we know you; how can you be the Messiah!

It is amazing how the Good News (the Gospel) is rejected by the very people it is supposed to benefit. It is as though people in need don’t want to be helped; people in bondage are so addicted to that lifestyle that they don’t wish to be freed. “It can’t be that good… what you are saying is too good to be true… this grace is nothing but pie in the sky” and so on.

When Jesus warned them that their rejection would mean that their enemies, the gentiles, would benefit from his ministry instead of the Jews (Luke 4:23-27), they became enraged. Moreover, as though acting out a prophecy they would later complete, they led him up a hill with the intention of killing him (Luke 4:28-29)—for the very words of grace he preached unto them (Luke 4:22). Thus, they fulfilled both in the beginning and in the end of Jesus’ ministry that he was “hated without cause” (John 15:25; Psalm 69:4).

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[1] An inclusio is a literary devise used in Biblical studies whereby everything within its brackets, i.e. the common word for phrase having a particular meaning according to the brackets used. For example, Psalm 1 begins by contrasting the walk or the way of the righteous and the council or way of sinners. It ends the same way, namely with the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. The first and last verses are the inclusio or the brackets, and what lies between concerns the same conflict or contrast reflected in the contrasting ways. On the other hand, if one assumes the ancient claim of Rabbi Jonathan (See the Babylonian Talmud, Berachoth 10a) that Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 were one Psalm, David begins with “Happy is the man… (Psalm 1:1) and ends with “Happy are all they who put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:12). What lies between would prove or fulfill the claim that a man or all men are happy when they place their trust in the Lord.

[2] The conflict is prophesied in Psalm 2 whereby both the Jewish and later the gentile authorities set themselves against the Son of God, the Messiah.

[3] Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedren 97a

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Posted by on September 11, 2016 in Gospel of Luke

 

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