No Ordinary Word
Friday of Epiphany 4
1 February 2019

At the synagogue in Nazareth (Lk 4:16-30), Jesus takes up the scroll of Isaiah reading chapter 61. Here is a mystery wrapped in an enigma; that God the word picks up and reads the word of God, that God the word (incarnate) delivers the Word of God (written). He who is the living Word of God here delivers the Word of God, which gives life. The divine author of the word of God is giving a reading of His book. The people of Nazareth ought to have fallen on their faces in awe, glorifying this God who is from their town, comes to their town, is from their synagogue, and comes to their synagogue, who is the Word and reads the Word for them. And gives them the sense of it in His sermon. The God who gives speech, speaks to the fallen sons of Adam.

 Yet they were offended at His weakness. Wasn't He Joseph's son? Weren't His mother, brothers, and sisters here in Nazareth? "He is one of us. He can't be any more than a country rube recently fallen off the turnip wagon!"

The weakness of the Word of God also causes great offense among us. We avoid going to Bible class, arguing many different ways to excuse our spiritual laziness. We act like we've heard it all before. There's nothing new going on at Bible class. And I want to catch up with my friends during Bible class hour anyway.

This is Lutheran Education Week. What a great blessing Lutheran schools are. And yet I've also heard people argue that they don't have time for Bible class because they learned it all at Lutheran school and have no need of it. You see, they are smarter than Jesus who habitually went to synagogue to study God's word and proclaim it. How does that work!? How do you know the Word better than Jesus?

 But it's easy to be offended. We have mere preachers. We have some mere reading in services. We have some mere Christianity. We remain tied down to the Word of God. But what more could there be? What more could we want? What's better than mere Christianity? God has spoken. The Psalmist is right when he rejoices, "The Torah of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple" (Ps 19:7). This Word of God revives the soul, gives life, delivers hope, and raises the dead because it is no ordinary word. It is God's Word!

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"It is as though Jesus were saying, 'It is My office to heal, or to bind up, as the physicians do' (Lk 4:18-19). He describes these three tasks, which 1 Corinthians 15 depicts as three wounds, the law, sin, and death (1Co 15:56). The prophet Isaiah (Is 61:1) describes the office of Christ as the cure for these wounds. Paul is speaking of the law, through which God's wrath is experienced and perceived, and he convinces us that we have no strength in which to excel. Then, in conformity with this, sin follows, whereby the Law troubles us. Then follows eternal death. These are the three chief things with which Christ, our Bishop, struggles. 'The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law' (1Co 15:56). Here no man can help. I take Christ's three tasks as applying to these three things. To heal the brokenhearted, this is the first. Those who are crushed by the law I bind up and heal, so that they may not despair. Second, the captives, those who are captive under sin. For sins have snatched us like thieves. Then third, opening to those who are bound. The judge pronounces sentence, which is death. Against these three evils the knowledge of Christ is in force, if we would know Christ to be the man who can free us from these evils. Therefore, let us know that Christ is not a judge or a teacher of the Law, but He does the opposite: He heals, He consoles, and He frees us from these evils."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Isaiah, 61.1
Luke 4:16-21

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities and stretch forth the hand of Your majesty to heal and defend us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

For all Lutheran Schools and the educators who serve in them, that they would be faithful to their calling in proclaiming the time of the Lord's favor to the students they teach

For Matthew Harrison, President of the LCMS and the Praesidium that serves with him, that they might be upheld in every good deed by the power of the Word of God

For Paul Kehrer, in thanksgiving to God for the healing that he has experienced and for continued health and strength

For all deployed military personnel, and especially Jack Ogden, that the holy angels would attend them
Art: MICHELANGELO Buonarroti Isaiah (1509)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2019
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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