From The Seat of the Messiah - the Hermeneutics of Jesus 

Here we are, at the end of what seems like a very long journey. At one level, Isaiah 40-66 can be read as mere ancient poetry, preserved and archived for the sake of posterity and historical record. But many in both the Jewish and Christian faith would say scripture is more than just a historical artifact. New Testament scholar Ben Witherington says, “They believed these words from God were God’s living words and could be used and applied to situations very different from those in which they originated.”

We in 2021 hear those words. We are meant to find ourselves included in God’s plot-line, the arc that spans from Moses, through priest and prophet to Jesus and his early church disciples and beyond. The age-old sacred task of reflecting on our lives to see how the presence of God in Jesus Christ is transforming our character and imagination in our particular time and place beckons us.

In our final session, we will be glimpsing into the hermeneutic of Jesus seen through Isaiah 61 which was the inspiration for the gospels. Luke places the words of the First Testament prophet into the mouth of Jesus hoping to inspire his ancient audience. We too are invited to listen in. How do his words from that day in the synagogue come alive today as we gather together 21 centuries later? In what way can these texts become our constant traveling companion as we seek to live a deeper life with God and each other?

Going back over the winding, meandering, tragic yet inspiring narrative of the exile we start to see clues to this Jesus at every turn. It’s not just a literary device where the prophets and the priests of ancient days knew all along; a future clearly foretold in blueprint fashion right from the start. Instead, we as readers can also enter this story in all its uncertainty.  

The spirit compels us to follow the plot and become part of the cast of flawed but loved characters. God has written us into his history. Using our imaginations, we stumble into a first-century local synagogue, somewhere in Nazareth. Listening with rapt attention to a local boy who says dangerous but inspiring things, we begin to hear how his words dovetail with the words of Isaiah, bridging and expanding the great Jubilee. Together we catch a glimpse of God’s kingdom.

If we had met on Zoom this Wednesday, we would have gone into our breakout rooms to discuss how the words of Jesus’s inaugural sermon have come to life in our own ‘synagogue’. Instead, we will be together face to face. With that breakout question in mind, my hope is to end our Isaiah study on a prayerful note, appealing to the spirit of Jesus.  

Over the next week, read this passage from Luke and listen for where you/we need to be released, recovered and liberated. Where do we need the Lord’s favour? Bring your lamentations, your confessions, your words of gratitude. Together we will offer them to Abba Father, the One who delivers and offers hope for our ongoing journey. 

He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to preach good news to the poor,
to proclaim release to the prisoners
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to liberate the oppressed,
and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.

He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the synagogue assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed on him. He began to explain to them, “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled just as you heard it.”

(Luke 4:17-21)

- Bev

Questions for Reflection

Where do you/we need to be released, recovered and liberated? Where do we need the Lord’s favour? (alternate, what does it mean to need the Lord’s favor?)

Click here for a 12 minute transcript of our conversation

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permission given - painting by Natalie Wargin