Sunday’s Gospel Reading – Luke chapter 4 verses 14-21

Jesus comes back from confronting the devil in the wilderness, not exhausted by the struggle but ‘filled with the power of the Spirit.’ Jesus is often referred to as ‘Teacher,’ and he now begins his teaching ministry going round the local synagogues; he gets praised by everyone.

And so he goes to the synagogue in Nazareth where he is well known, having been brought up there. A synagogue service would have a reading from the Torah – the first five books of Scripture, the law of Moses – and then a reading from the prophets. Here the Torah reading has happened, the scroll of the prophet Isaiah 61 is handed to Jesus. Custom was that the reading was done standing, the address was given seated. Jesus reads the verses from Isaiah, and the says simply, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’

The last words of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel stress that he is the fulfillment of Scripture, 24.46-47. To say you fulfill Isaiah 61 is quite a claim – usually this was thought to be the activity of God himself. The tremendous vitality and joy of this piece of prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus – and Luke will now show how it is worked out in all that Jesus says and does.