Day 271 “Royal Declaration” Luke 4:14 – 5:39
September 28, 2021, 2:04 PM

Day 271 “Royal Declaration” Luke 4:14 – 5:39

These words “then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit…” (14) launch us into the incredible journey that we begin to take with Jesus. The temptations that Jesus faced and overcame, the fasting for 40 days—these seemed to give him energy to start his ministry, a clarity and a power that was immediately clear to people around him. Then, when he reads from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and speaks about the “Spirit of the Lord…”he knows exactly what he is saying, exactly what he claims. And his claim is that he, Jesus, is the fulfillment of prophecy of Isaiah. BIG claim. That alone could have caused trouble for Jesus, but it did not because everyone who heard him there “spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth,” (4: 22) In other words, he had not started to make people angry yet!!

Within 8 verses, the tide has turned, however. And the same people in the synagogue “were filled with rage” and wanted to “hurl him off the cliff,” (4: 28-29). This reminds me of the same people who cried “Hosanna!” as Jesus came into Jerusalem, and shouted “Crucify him!” by the end of the week. As soon as Jesus says something we don’t like, we try to silence the message. I’m not saying that you and I do that, but I’m pretty sure I do it sometimes.

Ok, tangent time. Last night, first night of vacation, Alistair and I went to the movies and saw “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”. It’s the story of the Bakkers who started the Praise the Lord (PTL) club. It’s hard to watch faith gone bad, by the way. I left the movie feeling like I needed a cleansing of soul and spirit. But the thing that stays with me is the almost child-like faith of Tammy Faye and her belief that all people were beloved by God. A crucial scene occurs when she welcomes a man with AIDS on her talk show (he’s on video because he can’t travel with AIDS) and reinforces the point over and over again that he is made by God and beloved of God. She berates Christians for shunning people with AIDS and tells him “I just want to put my arms around you!” and I believe that’s true. The man said to her, via camera “I want to put my arms around you, too!”

The simplicity of those words and of that radical acceptance caused disruption to the whole PTL crew, and to the powers that ruled such as Jerry Falwell. Tammy Faye’s words were healing words, even though the man’s illness did not miraculously get healed. And this is what I see over and over again in the reading for today. In the first three healings, Jesus ‘rebukes’ the demons and the fever directly—he actually speaks TO them, and they leave the people who are afflicted. To rebuke means that Jesus chops them off at the root—he deeply heals people, not just at the level of visible illness or behavior, but Jesus’ words go into the person’s psyche and they are completely healed—perhaps of fear or anger or sin—we don’t know exactly what Jesus was able to heal beyond the presenting illness, but we know that they are healed.

A commentator that I am learning from right now is a man named Michael Wilcox, I am reading his study of Luke as I read the gospel itself. Sometimes I am surprised at how much I still have to learn, and the excitement I feel when I learn more, but Wilcox talked about the  ‘word’ of Jesus.  We know that John’s gospel refers to Jesus as ‘the Word’, but Wilcox reinforced for me today how important Jesus’s words, our words, are. A popular saying is this: “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” In other terms, our lives are an example of what we believe, and that’s true, but we need to hear, to read, to say the words of Jesus! Jesus didn’t just perform silent healings; he spoke healing to people. He rebukes, he prays he tells Simon Peter what to do: “Put out into deep water,” Jesus tells the fisherman who has caught nothing the entire night. And Simon Peter answers “If you say so, I will let down the nets,” (5: 4-5)

With his words, Jesus calls the disciples and they follow,  Jesus cleanses a leper, restores a paralytic but first he heals his sins, tells parables to teach the people, speaks in the Temple. It is the words of Jesus, words spoken with the power of the Spirit, that first cause people to fight against Jesus. By his word, Jesus changes the course of history. As the Word, he embodies the Spirit of God, carries the power of God into the world.

So when you hear the phrase again that we are to preach the gospel with our lives and actions, but we don’t really need words, do not believe it. We do. We need to hear them, to say them, to hold onto them. We are unique among God’s creation because we have been given this power of communication that both binds and destroys, that heals and cuts, that blesses and curses.

We are reading these gospels so that we can connect with the words of Jesus, as well as the actions. If you have a red-letter bible that highlights the words of Jesus, that makes it easier. But if you don’t, as our Study Bible does not, really let the words of Jesus speak to you today. Run your finger under the lines where he says things like “Come out!” or “Do not be afraid!” or “Be made clean” or “Your sins are forgiven you.” All of them came from today’s readings.

But carry with you these words of Jesus as well: “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God!” (4:43) because that is OUR job too.

Be blessed and be a blessing to others,


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