I could, I know, talk about how Jesus was tempted. If we were working straight through the book of Luke, we would have to. There was some anticipation there, though I think that the anticipation was mostly on Jesus’ part.
I want to skip that and move on to the first recorded sermon from Jesus. Actually, what is more significant is the reading before the sermon.
There really wasn’t a sermon. A rabbi, or teacher, would read part of the Old Testament (although, to be honest, that’s not what it was called, since there was no New Testament yet) and then would spend some time talking about it. Jesus took the scroll and opened it to some words from Isaiah, a prophet:
THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOOD NEWS TO THE POOR.
In a little while, after reading this, Jesus is going to say that this prophecy came true in him. What that means is that something about what he says is good news for poor people.
The usual questions come to mind:
- Does Jesus mean financially poor or poor in spirit?
- Is the good news that the checks are on the way or that checks won’t matter?
- Is the good news that God doesn’t think better of people who have money?
- Is the good news that the poor may find it easier to understand God than the rich?
- Is the good news that the messiah was pretty poor himself? And homeless? And unemployed?
The good news, at least in part, is that the poor could use some good news, and Jesus is saying that God-in-flesh is paying attention to poor people, whatever their poverty: financial, social, spiritual. Whatever the deficit, he’s willing to talk and care and love. And that is good news.
From Luke 4:14-30)