New Testament writers reference the words of Isaiah more than any other Hebrew scripture except the Psalms. Isaiah speaks a truth that is as yeast in leavened bread. Jesus of Nazareth’s reading taps into the prophecy’s mother lode. When we look at the scene in the synagogue, we apply this premise to answer the first question posed in our Friday devotion: Jesus is given the scroll of Isaiah to read for it contains the truth. The answer to the second question thus becomes self-evident: Jesus reads the prophecy about the coming messiah because it describes him and his ministry.
In the late 1980s, southern blues legend B. B. King asked Irish rock group U2 front man Bono to write a song for him. Bono penned the blues classic, “When Love Comes to Town.” In a graceful example of respect and love for their musical hero, the band’s musicians came all the way from Ireland to record the song with King in his hometown: Memphis, Tennessee. U2 then included this version of the song on their 1988 album, Rattle and Hum.
Back in Nazareth, we know why Jesus stops reading at “the year of the Lord’s favor.” It is the year of the Lord’s favor because love has come to town. The Nazarenes cannot see it. We continue to struggle to see that it is, even now, the year of the Lord’s favor. Love still comes to town. The redemption of Israel, of you and me, of God’s people, culminates with the arrival of our suffering servant. The scripture is fulfilled in our hearing. Jesus, the truth of our salvation, lives. The question remains, When Truth stands before us, will we recognize and accept him or, like our brothers and sisters in Nazareth, will we reject him and the love that comes to town?
God, open our hearts so we will recognize your Son standing before us and will become the harmony of One. Amen.
How do we feel when we read the Word of God? The Israelites rejoice in God’s law. At the time of the restoration of Jerusalem after the return from exile, Ezra reads from the Law and explains its meaning to the people. They respond by holding a feast because understanding God’s teachings is a source of joy. The psalmist says that God’s law revives the soul, causes the heart to rejoice, and helps us to see clearly. Paul continues with his teaching on spiritual gifts, emphasizing that all members of the body of Christ have an important role. No one can claim to be any more important than anyone else. In Luke, Jesus reads from Isaiah and declares that his messianic ministry will focus on justice, mercy, and healing.
Read Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10. When has God’s word overwhelmed you? How did you react?
Read Psalm 19. How do you seek to speak or sing words acceptable to God? How does this shape your life?
Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a. Within the body of Christ, as within our human bodies, parts compensate for one another. How do you take on more to support the body of Christ when others struggle? How do you allow others to take on your roles when you struggle?
Read Luke 4:14-21. In what ways have you rejected Jesus?
Respond by posting a prayer.
Whitney Simpson offers a wide-open doorway into embodied practice and awakens us to the long-held wisdom of our tradition that our bodies are sacred places where God meets us and dwells. Fully Human, Fully Divine is a true Christmas gift!”
Click here to learn more about our newest Advent book and eCourse.