Posts Tagged ‘setting captives free’

Looking For a Messiah?

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Thursday After Epiphany

John 4: 19 – 5: 4; Luke 4: 14-22

Dc. Larry Brockman


We keep looking at things the wrong way, and we take things too literally, as we journey through life looking for meaning.   

Take the quote from Isaiah that Jesus read for example.  Isaiah talks about freeing captives, good news for the poor, sight for the blind, and relief for the oppressed.  And when we hear that, we think of all those things literally.  That’s what the Jews of Jesus time were looking for as well- a literal rendering of all those things.  They were yearning for the “Christ” to come  to end the harsh, oppressive Roman rule; and restore Israel to greatness and prosperity.   

Now Jesus, fired up by the Holy Spirit after his Baptism, spent 40 days in the desert fending off temptations by the devil and sorting out what God’s mission was for him.  And so he emerges from the desert, all fired up with zeal for God.  He was the Messiah, and it was God’s will for Him to spread the good news of eternal life to everyone.  And who better to share that exuberance with than his own people- the people he grew up with.   

So, he returns to Galilee; and goes to Sabbath service in the temple.  Jesus boldly chooses the Isaiah scripture and reads it to tell the people through the prophecy that predicted him, who he really was.  But they didn’t get it, not at all.   So, he comes right out and tells them that He is the long awaited Christ;  He is the one who will free the captives, give sight to the blind, spread good news to the poor, and relieve the oppressed.    At first they were in awe; but then the reality sunk in.  And it didn’t take long for his own people to turn on him.  In the next few verses after today’s Gospel, the town people drive him away, angered at the preposterous notion that this simple carpenter’s son, poorly educated and without means, would dare to describe himself as the one and only Messiah.   

And it was kind of a wake-up call for Jesus as well.  His People were looking for the wrong things from the Messiah as they journeyed through life looking for meaning.  They didn’t want to be poor, sick, or burdened in this life; and they didn’t want their eyes opened up to the truth.     

Is it any different today?  I visit one of the local hospitals twice a week to help the chaplain.  I saw an elderly man in his mid-80’s recently who was suffering from serous heart disease.  He knew he didn’t have long to live.  He was resigned to that, but was concerned about his daughter, who he believed really needed his help.  She was financially strapped and abandoned by her husband.  He wanted to get out of the hospital as soon as possible so he could help her.   He didn’t want any open heart surgery that would slow him down or affect his ability to help her even if it meant shortening his life.  He was frustrated by the reality of the life he was in.  He wanted relief for the poor, healing for the sick, freedom from captivity; and that wasn’t likely to happen. 

I was moved at the situation he was in.  Many of us will find ourselves in these kinds of situations in real life.  But the reality is that the Messiah did not come to save us from the pain and suffering of this world.  Rather, He came to set us free from captivity to it in the next world; to open our eyes for God’s will for us now, so we can share in the Kingdom of God, where there will be no more poor or captives.  But most folks are looking for relief in this world- after all, it is the human thing to do.   

You know, even if somehow by magic this man could be cured of his heart ailment right away so he could help his daughter, that wouldn’t solve the problem.  Because such a miracle would last for another few years before the next reality would hit.  The solution Jesus promises, on the other hand, lasts forever.  That’s what Jesus was all fired up about and wanted to share.   

In the first reading, John talks about loving God, trusting God, and keeping His commandments.  That is what we all need to do to follow the Messiah in this life.  If we do that, all of the saving predictions from Isaiah will come true for us.