Epiphany 3 (Luke 4:14-21)
“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus fulfills the Law and the Prophets.
The Law of Moses reveals the standards of human behavior in three broad categories. The first is our relationship with God. The second is our relationships with other people. The third is our relationship to our real self. God designed us to live and move and have our being in Him. The Law of the Sabbath is a fundamental design feature of the universe, our planet, the human species and each of us personally. It is key to who God created us to be and to become.
Luke comments that Jesus attended the Sabbath services in the synagogue as was his custom. Where so many others have cheated and continued to cheat this fundamental principle of creation, Jesus made a point to fulfill it. On the Sabbath day, sundown Friday to sundown Saturday under the Old Covenant; and, on Sunday under the New Covenant, God waits for us at the appointed time and the appointed place. He waits to bless us with the original blessing of Creation- the seventh day- the day of real presence.
The Sabbath day, the seventh day, is the day of blessing. It is unique. And more often than not most people most of the time do not value it. We do not value it because we are not interested in meeting God and enjoying his presence. We want the benefits of health, wealth and power we believe derive from God but we don’t want God himself.
Jesus, in the fullness of his humanity, delighted to enter into the Presence of his Heavenly Father. Jesus offers to help us share in that same delight.
As the meaning and purpose of our lives, as the one by whom, in whom and for whom we were created, as the one who is our first best and forever friend, Jesus invites us to walk with him throughout our lives in the way of blessing. Jesus passionately desires to help us appreciate the blessing God the Father designed into the universe on the Seventh Day of blessing.
It is very clear we cannot do this on our own. Scripture, history and our own personal biography all bear witness that God is not our first best priority. The lost do not value the Sabbath because they do not value God. The found struggle with the distortions, the distractions and the temptations of the old way of living in separation from God.
The prophet Isaiah declares that the Anointed One of God, the Messiah- the Christ- will accomplish what the Law of Moses and the Temple rituals cannot accomplish. The Christ will proclaim Good News. He will set free those who have been enslaved by sin. He will help the lost who are willfully and spitefully blind to see. He will proclaim grace.
Grace. How sweet the sound. Grace is that quality of the divine nature that is universal and unconditional. Where human pride issues the demand: do it my way; grace in Jesus Christ lives in the real presence of God by the prayer: Thy will be done.
Where the human will to power uses people to acquire power, prestige, pleasure and possessions; grace in Jesus Christ assumes the place of a servant. The Christ is the servant King who does not issue commands or threats but rather asks: how may I help?
Where the Law inspires fear that keeps us anxious, depressed, agitated and running after the next quick fix and temporary pleasure; grace in Jesus Christ transforms fear into faith by divine love.
The very well spring of love is the fountain of love in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the love of God in human flesh. Once we receive the gift of reunification with God the Father in God the Son by the indwelling Presence of God the Holy Spirit, Jesus himself becomes the new pattern of how we become human and how we become the unique person God created us to be.
The Plan of Salvation is not Law, religion or politics. The Plan of Salvation emerges from the Plan of Creation. In the Plan of Creation, God the Father created all of us and each of us to live and move and have our being in a forever friendship with God the Son, Jesus Christ.
When Jesus reads the description in Isaiah of God’s Anointed One he doesn’t offer a program or a religious sect or a political party as the path to fulfill the prophecy. He offers himself.
Jesus quite literally is the Good News of divine love who fulfills the Law we consistently break. He is the pattern of blessing who manifests the blessing of God and offers the blessing to everyone as a gift. In a friendship with Jesus characterized by faith we recover what we foolishly rejected and abandoned.
In Jesus our Heavenly Father sets us free to be the person He intended us to become. Jesus is the real presence of divine blessing in our world. As we choose to receive Jesus and then make daily choices to walk with Jesus, it is Jesus himself who will convert our souls and transform our minds, hearts and wills.
It isn’t magic. It isn’t automatic. It is a process that is personal and incremental as we grow in grace and become the blessing of God in our lives. Jesus is the way of transformation. Our responsibility is to listen to the Holy Spirit as He tells us where we need to change, to mature and to transform. Our responsibility is to make a real choice to enter into the real presence of God in Christ by the operation of the Holy Spirit in our souls.
God designed us to grow, mature and transform in the pattern of blessing. That pattern is Jesus Christ. That is why and how Jesus fulfills the Law and the prophets in his own life and in our lives.