OF CITRUS SPRINGS
Deacons Meeting next Thursday, March 11th at 10 am.
14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.
15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read,
17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor." - Isaiah 61:1-2
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.
21 He began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
23 Jesus said to them, "Surely you will quote this proverb to me: 'Physician, heal yourself!' And you will tell me, 'Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.'"
24 "Truly I tell you," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown.
25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land.
26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.
27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian."
28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.
29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff.
30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
Make no mistake, following Jesus was not easy, not then, not now. The disciples were starting to get the idea when Jesus taught in the synagogue there was going to be a reaction. His perspective and teaching were not of the norm, but in today's text, His claim was the most radical declaration He could make about Himself. He proclaimed Himself the Messiah. The Messiah was not an obscure topic that was rarely discussed. To the contrary, it was commonly discussed and various people had claimed the role before Jesus. So, those who gathered at the synagogue that day were prepared for such a discussion, just not with the likes of Jesus. You see their response is not one of surprise, no, it is anger. It is, how dare you! Remember, He is not in a place that is unknown to Him. He is in His hometown. They watched Him grow up. They saw Him skin His knee when He fell. They saw Him play in the streets and learn His trade. He was not one of the popular kids, but instead common and poor (Isaiah 53:1-3). And now, it seems He has decided to be the Messiah, the Savior of all Israel foretold by the prophets.
A few things to notice in the text. Within the chapter we are studying (chapter four), compare verse one with verse fourteen. In verse one, after being baptised, He is filled with the Holy Spirit, and was He led, in verse fourteen after being tempted it changes to, in the power of the Spirit, He returned to Galilee. Do you see the difference in the characterization of the persona of Jesus in relation to the Spirit? He goes from being filled and led to being One who embodies the Spirit of God. The change that happened to Him is the same thing that happens to the disciples and to us, if we are willing to go through the process. You can call yourself a believer, but in the end, are you one (James 2:19)? God already knows, we are the ones that need to know. Now, when confronted in this way, we can become very disheartened. We know we fail. The good news is, God knows it to and does not give pass / fail tests. Instead, as Jesus taught, it is a learning process (Matthew 11:29). If you read the text I just cited, what is the evidence that you are learning? Not what most would think would be a sign of success, but it is. Many of us pride ourselves on being perfectionists. The downside of such an approach is burnout both personally and socially. Jesus studies and prepares Himself. And when He is ready, He goes to John and is baptized knowing it is time to demonstrate what He has learned through the Scriptures and experience. He does so both with those around Him and with the spiritual realm. At which point, He is ready to face the world (society) and meet their reaction with poise and clarity of mission. You often hear me encouraging you to share your faith with others, especially your future generation. For those who are raised in Sunday School and go on to attend church, they gain the information that is found in the Bible. Why I ask you to share your experience and faith is because information will only take someone so far, application is where it matters. Can you share your faith while still learning? Absolutely, in fact, there is no other way. Reason being, the One who is doing the overall teaching is the Holy Spirit. We share what we can, to the best of our ability, but it is God who moves in their spirit (John 14:26) and does the work. The question is, have we gone through the learning process or are we just repeating what we have heard? The discussion of faith and works in the book of James is worth a look (James 2:14-16).
The reason why Jesus could carry out the mission described in Isaiah 61:1-2, the mission of the Messiah, is because He was prepared through His learning from God. The reason why many miss what God teaches is because they seek God by way of word searches on the computer or through a person who they feel will give them the answer. In part, that is good, but one needs to read through the Bible to experience the life of God. Unfortunately, so many disparage the Bible as being irrelevant and discourage people from reading it. Yet, it is the only place you will find the Truth spelled out in the struggles, failures, forgiveness, grace and peace found in the loving response of God through Jesus Christ. The only Bible I could find when I first got serious about God was the 1769 revision of the 1611 King James Version of the Bible which some, even then, were calling a corruption of the Word by the Liberals. Well, they can call it what they want ...but, the Spirit of God moved through it and reached me. My point is, much like what I said in the last devotional, the Spirit will teach you as long as you are willing to stay humble and learn the lessons. I will close by saying, the information one gleens from the Bible in the end will not benefit them much. There are a lot of people who have read the Bible and even attend church, but, in the right setting, they will tell you it does not relate to their life. Deep down, they see it as foolish. But to those who take it in, believe in God, really experience it, Paul describes the results when he talks about the kingdom of God in 1 Corinthians 4:20, for the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. In John 10:10 Jesus taught, the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly. In this teaching, Jesus plainly states that there are things in this life that can deprive us from living the life God has provided for us. If we let it, it can steal the life away from us. But, if you are ready, the thief cannot take anything. And that is why I encourage people to share their testimony, because it encourages others to stay ready so they can deal with the issues they face like Jesus did with poise and confidence.
Pray with me ...Holy God, we confess we side-step the learning process You call us to even though we know it will benefit us. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed enough by the challenges of life or just want to take a break from it all. Yet, help us hear Your word and understand Your teaching so that we can enter the rest and experience the abundant life You seek to give us. Bless our loved ones, O God, bless them according to their need. Be with those that are struggling across our nation, hear us LORD as we pray that You help them. Bless our church Lord, continue to guide us that we can fulfill the commission You have for us, in Jesus name, Amen.