Luke 4 v 18-19. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release, the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
It is almost election time again in South Africa. All the political parties are presenting their manifestos. These represent what they see as their main goal and aim if they are voted into power. Many of these political manifestos mention the need to alleviate poverty and fight for a more equitable society.
In this portion of scripture Jesus presents his own manifesto. In the synagogue of his home town of Nazareth, Jesus reads from the scroll of Isaiah the prophet. The passage refers to someone who was to come who would bring good news to the poor, freedom for prisoners, sight for the blind and release for the oppressed. Jesus then preached a sermon which was so great that “all spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips”. (v 22).
And yet this passage ends with his town’s people trying to kill him. Why? The answer lies in v 21. There he claims that he is the One about whom the ancient scriptures spoke. Not only that but he also confronted the real psychological difficulty of the truth that “familiarity breeds contempt”. His own community found it hard to take him seriously. This elicited the response from Jesus in verse 24.
Jesus then goes on to give two illustrations from the Old Testament drawn from the ministry of Elisha to make his point. This further outraged his listeners because it confronted them with their own unbelief.
You should not be surprised if your own family and friends do not take your Christian faith seriously. It is part of the darkness of unbelief to ridicule those of their own number who do believe, especially if they are family members. We should remember our Lord’s words in Matthew 5 vs 11, 12. Please read them.
But the actual manifesto itself, the words which describe what Jesus came to do warrants more consideration and we will do that tomorrow.