Today's sermon was an exposition of Luke 4:14-40 and the speaker, Brett Hartman, has approached it in a way I have not thought of before.
He explained the passage as follows: Jesus went to the synagogue in Nazareth and when it came to the reading from the prophets, he took the scroll and read from Isaiah, "The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD's favor has come."
Jesus then gave an exposition of the passage saying, "The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!"
The people were amazed and they were happy with what Jesus has said. They see themselves as good people, under the oppression of the Romans. And so they were waiting for the Messiah to come save them, and to proclaim the year of Lord's favour on them.
But Jesus see that they have missed the point of the gospel. And so he continued with the mention of two people whom God chose to save: of all the widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, God only chose to save a foreign poor widow, and of all the lepers in Israel, God only chose to cleanse Naaman, a rich foreign. Both of them implying that God had not chosen to save Israel.
The people became very angry when they heard that. They rose up, drove Jesus out of town and wanted to kill him. They failed this time, but we know, they soon nailed Jesus to the cross.
The lesson here is that grace means that God is not obliged to save anyone but yet he is free to save anyone. The Israelites cannot have a claim to salvation anymore than the two foreigners can be excluded.
The speaker also brought a more in-depth meaning to the passage read by Jesus in the synagogue, that four things will happen when you truly encounter God:
1. You will be set free from captive
2. You will open your eyes and see
3. You will be cleansed and accepted by God, no longer be loathed and shunned like a leper
4. You will be set free and no longer be oppressed or be poor in spirit
We must recognize the deep desire in our hearts and lives that we do not really want to give God control in our lives. We want to be our own god, our own saviour. We want control.
But how good we think we are, we actually do not have anything, do we? We are indeed nothing. We need the Lord, he is the one in control.