I am keeping up with the New Testament in a Year plan that is being followed at St Clement’s and today’s reading is from the first half of Luke 4. I have lost count of how many times I have read Luke’s gospel and this passage, holding such a powerful encapsulation of the kingdom mission, could well have been before my eyes more than a hundred times:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
Because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are downtrodden,
To proclaim the favourable year of the Lord.
(Luke 4:18-19, NASB)
I knew that, after this reading, the people in the synagogue where he read it grew angry and tried to throw him off a cliff (you can tell that this story did not take place in England, where there would have been cutting remarks over coffee and perhaps a refusal to shake hands at the door in the most hardline of congregations). What I do not recall noticing before is that the sequence is a little more complicated.
Kingdom proclaimation; received with favour (v.22: “And all were speaking well of him…”). What enraged the crowd and led to the cliff scene? Read the whole passage (Luke 4:16-30) to find out. The first quote could be seen safely within the Jewish context; they were not strangers to poverty and felt downtrodden. It was when Jesus referred to historical examples that went beyond the pale of what was culturally acceptable that their mood changed.