Family Bible Study lesson for Feb. 18: Announcing Good News
February 2 2001 by William (Mac) McElrath , Luke 4:16-30

Family Bible Study lesson for Feb. 18: Announcing Good News | Friday, Feb. 2, 2001

Friday, Feb. 2, 2001

Family Bible Study lesson for Feb. 18: Announcing Good News

By William (Mac) McElrath Luke 4:16-30 When you listen to a sermon or a Bible lesson, do you ever get the feeling that everything you're hearing happened long ago and far away - too long ago and too far away to have any relevance for what you're experiencing in the here and now? Twenty centuries ago, when a certain group of faithful and God-fearing people gathered in a house of worship, they must have gotten that same feeling. They were hearing the public reading of Bible verses they'd known all their lives.

Then, suddenly, something happened. The reader of scripture in that service of worship made a bold statement that shook the worshippers to the core. And He reinforced His startling announcement by retelling two Bible stories they'd always known and applying the stories in a way they'd never dreamed.

Good News for here and now (Luke 4:14-21) People all over Galilee were talking about the new teacher, the young rabbi who spoke such wonderful words and did such wonderful deeds. It was plain that the power of God's Holy Spirit rested upon Him.

Then Jesus came home to Nazareth. Luke 4:16 states clearly that Nazareth was "home" not in the sense of Jesus' birthplace but, rather, the place "where He had been brought up." If we needed an exemplary proof-text to encourage regular attendance at scheduled services of worship, we could find it in that verse: Following His usual custom, Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day.

Readings from the Law of Moses were already pretty well set by the time of Jesus, but readings from the prophets were still flexible. Also, it was not unusual to invite a visiting rabbi to read from an Old Testament scroll and make remarks on the reading.

What Jesus read and what He didn't read that day are significant. He read from Isaiah 61:1-2, which states that the Lord's Anointed would be sent to proclaim Good News to the poor. But Jesus left out a sentence in Isaiah 61:2 about God's vengeance; apparently He wanted to make it clear that His was a mission of grace, not of judgment. Also, He included a phrase from Isaiah 58:6, underscoring that He had come to set the oppressed free. (This mix-and-match approach to Old Testament materials was common practice in Jesus' day; the Apostle Paul would later do much the same.)

The really striking thing Jesus did that Sabbath day came after the reading, after He had returned the scroll, after He had assumed the usual seated position for preaching. "Then Jesus said to them, 'What you have just heard Me read has come true today'" (Luke 4:21, CEV).

Good News for all people (Luke 4:22-27) The first reaction of those worshipers gathered in Nazareth was favorable. Then the immensity of what Jesus had just said began to take hold of them. How could this native son, this young man who had grown up in the household of Joseph the carpenter, claim to be the Lord's Anointed, the Messiah, the Christ?

Jesus responded to their doubts by quoting an old proverb (v. 23) and creating a new one (v. 24). Then He retold two familiar Bible stories: Elijah and the widow of Zarephath, and Elisha and Naaman. In each case, prophetic ministries of healing had been extended to persons beyond the boundary of God's old-time covenant people.

Jesus' implication was clear: The Good News is for everyone. Later on He would make this implicit truth explicit as He gave the Great Commission. (What are you and your fellow church members doing to carry the Good News of Jesus Christ to those outside the four walls of your church?)

Good News rejected (Luke 4:28-30) The people of Nazareth had gathered in the synagogue on that Sabbath day because they were faithful and God-fearing. They had heard familiar stories and prophecies from the Old Testament, the only Bible they knew. But when they were told that these stories and prophecies applied to themselves - to the here and now, not just the long ago and far away - they couldn't take it.

Turning on Jesus, they tried to throw Him off a steep cliff. Did He perform a miracle so that He could pass through the midst of them and go away? Or did He escape in a more earthly fashion, taking advantage of the heat and confusion of the moment?

The Bible doesn't say. It does say that the Good News of Jesus Christ is relevant to the here and now, and that it is intended for all people everywhere.

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2/2/2001 12:00:00 AM by William (Mac) McElrath , Luke 4:16-30 | with 0 comments
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