January 27 – Third Sunday after Epiphany
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Read Luke 4:14- 30
Grace and peace to you as you let the Holy Spirit guide you in your life, from God our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
During this Advent and Epiphany season we have been following the gospel of Luke to learn more about the life of Jesus so that He can become an even greater part of our life. If you remember back about two months ago we heard that the Spirit of God was going to overshadow Mary, the mother of Jesus, so that the son conceived in her womb would be both True God and True Man. Mary was also told by the Angel Gabriel that her relative Elizabeth had also conceived and when Mary when to visit her, as she greeted Elizabeth the baby in Elizabeth’s womb, full of the Holy Spirit, jumped for joy proclaiming that Mary’s child was the promised Messiah. Two weeks ago, we heard that Jesus is now a grown man, of 30 year of more. When He came to John the Baptist, who was proclaiming the Good News of God and preparing the people for the coming of the Messiah, John baptized Jesus, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit came down upon Jesus in the form of a dove and the voice of God the Father spoke from heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Lk. 3:22) In the account of Jesus temptation by the Devil, Luke tells us that, Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil.” (Lk. 4:1) After Jesus’ temptations we hear Luke tell us, “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about Him went out through all the surrounding country.” (Lk 4:14)
It’s rather interesting to see and understand that when we let the Holy Spirit get involved in our lives, some incredible things will happen to our life. That’s been true ever since the creation of the World, when the Holy Spirit was hovering over everything to making sure that it was good. What’s incredible and good comes from the Holy Spirit working our lives. That’s what we all need to be asking for in our lives as we continue to learn about how the Holy Spirit works in our lives.
The gospel of Luke doesn’t record all the things that Jesus did in beginning His ministry, but the other gospels tell us that He has been recruiting His Disciples, He has changed water into wine in His first miracle, He has done some incredible miracles of healing in the town of Capernaum and He has really impressed the people of the area of Galilee with His Words. The evangelist Luke goes on to tells us, ‘And Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as was His custom, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and He stood up to read. (Lk. 4:16)
It sure is good to keep the habit of coming to Church each Sunday to let God’s Word be a part of our lives and to get recharged by the Holy Spirit working through God’s Word and with His people in the Church. That’s what Jesus was doing, He had come home to be with His family and the people He had grown up with so when the Sabbath day came He went to the synagogue to listen to God’s Word being read.
Now here is where the church today and the life of the synagogue in that time of Jesus are a little different. Today when a minister comes to spend a Sunday with us as part of his vacation time, we don’t ask him to read the scriptures and then give us a sermon on one of those reading, but if you lived in this part of Colorado a hundred years ago that’s exactly what you might see happen. Oh, there are some tales about the preachers in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that not only hiked these mountains to share God’s Word with the people of that day but also to pick up the mail that are quite interesting. I’m sure that if you were able to talk with these preachers you would find that it was the Holy Spirit that was worked in their lives that enabled them to share the Good News of God’s love, assurance and salvation with the people of the mountains of Colorado while also sharing God’s love, peace and joy in helping them.
Well the custom of Jesus time was that on each Sabbath in the synagogue of that town the people would meet for pray and the reading God’s Word, so that they could be strengthened in their faith, just like we do here at Shepherd of the Rockies. Most of the small synagogues didn’t have a priest or a pastor so the elders of the congregation normally read the scriptures and shared some of the wisdom that the Holy Spirit had given them about what they read. If a well-known preacher happened to come to their meeting they would ask him to read one of the Scripture readings and comment on it. So, since Jesus had come back to Nazareth for a visit, the people were waiting to see what Jesus would say and do for them, for they had heard what He was doing in Capernaum.
17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “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, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”20 And He rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him.21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”’ (Lk. 4:17-21)
Do you understand what Jesus just read to you and said to you about God’s Words? Jesus was given the book of Isaiah and He read out of it one of the prophecies of the coming of the Messiah and what the Messiah would do to bring the favor of God back into this world. The people that He was talking to were the people that Jesus had grown up with. This town of Nazareth wasn’t any bigger than the area that we live in, right here in Bailey and Pine region. The school that He attended was quite easily smaller than the schools of Platte Canyon. Jesus had grown up and worked with His father amongst these people and now Jesus is telling them that He is the Messiah, the promised Savior that they had been waiting for. There are only two possible responses to this kind of statement. Either the people are going to let the Holy Spirit go to work in their lives and become believe in Him, becoming His disciples or they are going to reject everything that He says and does, ask him to prove what He says is true, because of their disbelief.
That’s exactly what happened, as the evangelist Luke tells us, “And all spoke well of Him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from His mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 And He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘“Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’” (Lk. 4:22-23)
This is nothing new and this is still happening to each and every one of us today. As we share our faith, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are all going to face one of these two responses happening in our lives. We are going to be joined with a fellow believer who will be growing in their faith with us and come to even more epiphanies of life, as we let the Holy Spirit go to work in our lives or we are going to lose a relationship that we have started with someone because the devil and the sinful ways of the world and our sinful nature will drive them away from the truth of God’s Love, peace and joy that we offer to them. Jesus knew that this would happen as He quotes to the people what happened to Elijah and Elisha in the Old Testament. Oh, this same reaction has happened to all of us here and to all believers of Jesus as we through the guidance of the Holy Spirit have shared the Good News of God’s love, peace and joy with others and they have rejected it instead of letting the Holy Spirit give them faith. But that doesn’t change what we have to do in this world any more than it changed what Jesus had to do in this world for us.
The evangelist and disciple John, in the first chapter of his gospel tells us, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. 12 But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (Jn. 1:9-13)
The people of Jesus’ time marveled at the Words of Jesus but still wanted Him to prove that He was the Son of God, the one sent into this world to take away all the sins of the world that cause us to be captive to sin, blind to the truth of God’s love for us and unable to find the liberty we need from the oppressions of this world. The evangelist Luke tells us, “When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove Him out of the town and brought Him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw Him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, He went away.” (Lk. 4:28-30)
How could Jesus have just passed through a crowd of angry people bent on killing Him? That’s the miracle that they were asking for, only in their wrath they couldn’t see the love, peace and joy that God was offering to them. A few years later a similar situation would happen to Jesus only this time only it was the right time and place for Jesus to take all our sins upon Himself and make the full and final payment for them. As the crowd of Jerusalem led Jesus to the brow of the hill outside Jerusalem He would let them hang Him there on a cross and there He would suffer hell for us and rise again three days later to give each and every one of us the right to be in the perfect love, peace and joy that only God can give to us now and forever.
Today in each of our lives we will be guided by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Good News of God’s Love, peace and joy given to us and we will get the same reactions that Jesus got. There will be those who will let the Holy Spirit bring them to faith in God’s love, peace and joy, and there will be those who will ask for proof because of their disbelief. That proof is found right here in God’s church where the miracle of God working in our lives is found in the sacraments that He has given to us, to bring us to faith and to strengthen our faith, as we let the Holy Spirit work through God’s Word and Sacraments in our lives. Go and be a disciple of Jesus. Share the Good New with the world by your words and actions proclaiming God’s love, peace and joy to all for the Holy Spirit is with you. Amen.