Third Sunday after Epiphany           27 January 2019 A.D.

Third Sunday after Epiphany           27 January 2019 A.D.    Morning Prayer

Psalms  42     First lesson.  Isaiah. 41:8 – 10,17 – 20   Second lesson.  Luke 4: 16 – 32

                                Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon
                                 our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities 
                                 stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us;
                                 through Jesus Christ our Lord.            Amen.

Luke 4:16-32
 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.’
 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
 And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?
 And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.
 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;
But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.
And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.
And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,
And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.
But he passing through the midst of them went his way,
And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.
 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.

When people hear about Jesus they have one of  two reactions; they hate him or they want to hear more about him.   In our reading from the Gospel we see these two reactions, the first were hateful, the second as we read later in the passage ( vs 33 – to the end of chapter ).
Let’s pick up the story of Jesus encounter with the unbelievers in the synagogue:  
 Jesus read from the Isaiah scroll (Isa. 61.1ff) the following:  ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.’ 
 Then, as was the custom in the synagogue worship, he sat down and then discussed what he had just read.   Jesus tells the people that “ this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”   Of course meaning that he Jesus was this one who had the Spirit of the Lord upon him.   Immediately they began to question his credentials.  Wasn’t he the carpenter’s son or the son of Joseph ?  He ( by the trade he was in ) never went to rabbinical school.  Who is this Jesus to speak to us like this?
Notice something glaring...they did not consider the rest of what he read concerning healing the blind, helping them who were bound with demons and beset with sin, setting people free into salvation.  They were asking about who he was, ignoring the message.

Then Jesus proceeds to explain why they are so upset with him. “No prophet is accepted in his home town.”   He shows from the ministries of Elijah and Elisha that the miracles were done to those who were not Hebrews.  By pointing out this glaring fact, the miracles done to non-Hebrew people, Jesus was making the point that God sent his blessings to others besides the Hebrew or chosen people.   Who was this upstart, who thinks he can upset the status quo, who does he think he is by questioning the exclusive characteristic of being a Jew, a people chosen of God? 
 Let’s look at the rest of that chapter from Isaiah that Jesus read in the synagogue that day: 
“And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed.
 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
 For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” 
 We can assume that Jesus was inferring that the rest of that 61st chapter of Isaiah was also being fulfilled in his time.  The Jew was going to be the people who would bless the rest of the world with the message of salvation, the gospel that would be shared by the first disciples of Christ.
What really got the people riled up at this synagogue service was Jesus claim to be anointed of God as a prophet.   This is all a matter of spiritual warfare, a battle between God’s own and Satan.
As the towns people rise up to kill him by pushing him off a cliff, he performs quite a miracle, he walks right through the angry mob and goes on to Capernaum .   

 Notice when Jesus is confronted as he was by Satan in the wilderness at the beginning of Chapter 4, he answer every query with scripture.  He continues this mode of defense when faced by an angry local crowd, people he grew up with, he responded with scripture.  “No prophet is accepted in his home town.” 

 Let’s go back to the question..”why do people reject or receive Jesus ?”    It is a matter of spiritual warfare.  You have the spirit of this world fighting the Holy Spirit of God.  Notice when Jesus confronts the man possessed by a demon.   The demon knows who Jesus is !  He screams out his identification and then the demon gives out Jesus real id...  “I know who you are– the Holy One of God!”    So even the demons know Jesus and tremble.  Those who do not follow Jesus also tremble when they hear the Word of God.  When ever Jesus preached or spoke with the authority of God, the Scripture or miracles that defied the laws of nature, he would have confrontation with those who did not believe.   The spirits of this world fought with the Spirit of God and they still do today.   Why are some religions so angry with Christianity ?   Almost all other faith systems will get a pass on a belief or holy day or training concept (schools, etc). But as soon as the media or critics or philosophers get wind that there may be some element of Christianity involved, all the knives come out, every weapon in their arsenal is unloaded towards anything vaguely Christian.   Why ?    I truly believe it is the struggle between the god of this world and the Holy God of the Bible.   The god of this world knows he will never win, but he still tries to foul up anything that God originally set in place.   From the beginning of mankind we have always, since the Fall, had to contend with right and wrong.   We have always had to make the choice of who we follow.
 In our lesson today, Jesus made plain by the ministry that He started, which side we as follower, believers, and lovers of Christ are supposed to do.  

Let us follow Jesus today.
Let us pray:
O GOD, we have heard with our ears, and our fathers have declared unto us, the noble works that thou didst in their days, and in the old time before them. WE humbly beseech thee, O Father, mercifully to look upon our infirmities; and, for the glory of thy Name, turn from us all those evils that we most justly have deserved; and grant, that in all our troubles we may put our whole trust and confidence in thy mercy, and evermore serve thee in holiness and pureness of living, to thy honour and glory; through our only Mediator and Advocate, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O GOD, whose nature and property is ever to have mercy and to forgive; Receive our humble petitions; and though we be tied and bound with the chain of our sins, yet let the pitifulness of thy great mercy loose us; for the honour of Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

THE Lord bless us, and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us. The Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace, both now and evermore. Amen.