August 15, 2021

Major League Baseball was just normal good ‘ol baseball until this season. Suddenly a player for the Angels was both hitting home runs, and striking out the opposition with 100 mph fastballs, in the same game!! None of us had ever seen anything like it. It just didn’t seem conceivable. And the name Babe Ruth resurfaced. But here was Shohei Ohtni, pitching and hitting and running the bases, day after day, and having the time of his life.

Luke does his best to record the remarkable way in which Jesus made an instant impact on the Jewish world he encountered, where a normalized religion had ceased believing in the extraordinary.

Even at the young age of 12, Jesus snuck off to the temple courts, to “be about his Father’s business.” And the theologians of his day were blown away by what they witnessed.

When being tempted in the wilderness, a frustrated Satan couldn’t land a single blow against our Lord. Obviously out-matched, he left with his tail between his legs until “a more opportune time.”

Then in his home town of Nazareth, worshipping with all the local folks he had grown up with, Jesus showed his authority by taking the scroll, finding his way to Isaiah 61, and then boldly ascribing the passage to himself.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

How many times had those folks heard those words read? Dozens? Hundreds?  But no one had ever dared say, “Hey everybody, this is speaking about me!!”

And now in the passage that Erik Thoennes will be preaching this Sunday, Jesus will be in another town, teaching in another synagogue, and blowing minds. We aren’t told what he said, but those listening were “amazed at his teaching, because he had authority.” (Luke 4:32)

Authority. No one had EVER heard words spoken with such authority before. Jesus was unique, one of a kind. His words landed with power, and every heart within the sound of his voice knew it. Demons were powerless against that authority. The sickness that attacked Simon’s mother-in-law was powerless to resist that authority. And quickly word spread far and wide about this man who was anointed by the Spirit to proclaim good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, and sight for the blind, all the while setting the prisoners free.

Amazed, they didn’t realize that they were witnessing the year of the Lord’s favor. As Erik preaches this Sunday, may we too have a sense of the authority of God’s word, and may we leave strengthened and empowered to engage the world with the authority of Christ. Why not? This same Jesus is alive and dwelling in us through the Spirit.