Jesus is the Word!

 

Old Testament Reading      Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10

Epistle Reading                   1 Corinthians 12:12-31

Gospel Reading                  Luke 4:16-30

 

What will Jesus do next? That was the question of the day. His fame had spread and now all of Nazareth looked for him to do something spectacular like he’d done elsewhere. Instead of doing a miracle, Jesus points them to the Word. Jesus reads the prophetic words of Isaiah and says that Isaiah spoke of Him. Jesus is not simply saying the prophetic words are fulfilled in Him. He is saying "I AM the WORD!"

 

Jesus is the Word of Scripture, its voice and message. All Scripture speaks of Him and if we read the Scriptures, yet fail to see it’s all pointing to him, we reading it all wrong. Yet many folks find other messages in Scripture. For some the Word of God is just another book of the wisdom. Many non-Christians admire Jesus’ wise words, but He didn’t come merely to impart wisdom.

 

Even many Christians read the Scriptures looking for quick fixes to all that ails our bodies, our spirits, our marriages, our families, and our culture. Faith thus becomes little more than a search for a way to make today better. But Jesus didn’t come principally to explain mortal things to us; he came to grant us immortality by faith in Him.

 

It should be easy for us to understand why the hometown crowd in Nazareth was so excited. Reports of him casting out demons, healing lepers and raising the dead had raised expectations. You can almost see them licking their chops in anticipation. “Can you believe that this is Joseph's boy? If He was able to do miraculous things for the people in Capernaum, imagine what He'll do for us!"

 

This mindset of looking for miraculous signs rather than seeking to understand God’s Word is why Jesus rebuked the people. They didn't get it; in fact, they didn't want to get it. Listen to what Christ reads in the Synagogue: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 

 

Our text says Jesus was sent to proclaim—proclaim good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to the captives, proclaim recovery of sight to the blind, and proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. "Proclaim recovery of sight to the blind?  How does that make sense?  What does it mean?" Well as Paul says to the Romans, “Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.” 

 

Scripture repeatedly speaks of faithlessness as blindness—spiritual, damning blindness.  In fact many times in the Gospels it's the physically blind people who hear and believe Christ and are able to recognize Christ for who He is—the promised Messiah—while those who’re have 20/20 vision often fail to recognize the life-giving reality standing right before their eyes.

 

Their ears of faith are closed, thereby rendering their eyes of faith blind.  Conversely, when the ears of faith are opened and attentive to God's Word, the eyes of faith are also opened to the reality of Immanuel—God with us. This was the problem with Jesus’ hometown crowd and it’s why Jesus spoke such sharp words of Law to them.  They heard the words of Christ, but they didn't hear the Word of God. 

 

As a result of their spiritual deafness they saw nothing more than the carpenter's son standing before them.  They saw nothing more than a possible meal ticket to bigger, better things. They marveled at His command of such eloquent, gracious words, yet they never truly heard Him say, in effect "Today your heavenly Father is keeping His promise of salvation to you.  Today this promise is fulfilled in Me.  I am the fulfillment.  I am." 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, anyone who opens Scripture for anything but Jesus will miss it all. You see, the Scriptures are but one message, speaking with one voice, for one purpose–as St John explained: to make known Jesus Christ that we might believe and that believing we might have His life in us.

 

A right understanding of the Bible begins with the realization that the Scriptures do not merely speak about Jesus but that Jesus is the Word spoken of old by the prophets, spoken to the blessed Virgin. It’s just as Luther said, “If you stick a pin in any page of the Bible, the blood of Christ will flow.” The Word imparts not simply the knowledge of Christ but Christ Himself.

 

The prophecies that Jesus fulfilled and the works He did were not ends in themselves, rather they point us to the Word that is Christ so that we might believe He is our Lord. In the same way, Jesus gives meaning and purpose to the lives we live now as His children by baptism and faith. He directs us to the completion of that work He began in our baptism and he empowers us to live out that faith in holy lives that seek to serve God by serving our neighbors.

 

His promise is not that we’ll be successful by the standards of the world, or that we’ll live lives free of suffering. Rather, His promise is that by believing we might have life in His name. Not our current life made a little better for knowing Jesus—but through Baptism, a new life, as God drowns our old life and we emerge a new creation, God's own child.

 

The fruit of Christ's work is not a “new and improved” version of our old selves but a new life, created in Christ Jesus to live as Christ's own in this world for now and later on to live forever in heaven. The fruit of Christ's redeeming work is not some explanation for the disappointments of this day or some comfort amid the sorrows we cannot escape. The fruit of Christ‘s redeeming work is new life, unchained from the shackles of death and born for holiness of life and the good works of a willing heart.

 

Jesus was indeed wise, but He didn’t come to impress us or to set an example inspiring us to be better than we are. He is the Son of God who comes to do what God has promised and bestow the gifts of heaven. He is the center of the good news which makes the poor rich. He is the one who came to provide liberty to those held captive by sin. He is the one who gives sight to those blinded by Satan and oppressed by the fear of death. He came to proclaim that now is the year of the Lord's favor.

 

Every Sunday morning Christ stands among us still, speaking in His Word, doing what He has promised, and bestowing what He has won. Here, every Sunday, Jesus says "Today this is fulfilled in your hearing!" The people of Nazareth were appalled by Jesus’ claim to be the fulfillment of all the scriptures. They refused to hear what Jesus had revealed and so walked away with nothing.

 

Let us not come to church as they came. Rather, may we listen in faith, confident of Christ in His Word and Sacraments, joyfully receiving what He bestows; a life that cannot perish; a salvation that cannot fail, forgiveness that knows no limit, comfort in all trials and hope even when all seems hopeless. That hope, that salvation, that forgiveness is found only in the name of Jesus, who is the Word of God incarnate. AMEN

 

 

Mutual Benediction (Repeat 2X)

Go Now In Peace,

Go Now In Peace,

May The Love Of God Surround You,

Everywhere, Everywhere, You May Go!

 

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