Lesson 7: Beginnings

I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!

– Jesus, John 16:33 (NRSV)

Devotion: All four gospels report that Jesus faced resistance from the beginning of his public ministry and growing opposition over its three-year span. Read Luke 4:14-30. Filled with the power of the Spirit, Jesus’ fame grew in the region. Those in his hometown who have known him for thirty years are initially amazed but ultimately enraged he claims to be fulfilling messianic scripture. Jesus warns us that his teaching will cause opposition and even divide families (Mt 10:16-18, 34-36). Why is this reaction so commonplace? Why do prophets and Christians sometimes have the hardest time among those who know them best? What is the threat we feel when someone we know changes, experiences success, or claims to have had an encounter with God? What should our response be in those situations?  

Personal Worship Option: Offer the following prayer: O my Sovereign God, help me be like Jesus, to love my enemies and those who oppose me. And when I struggle to show them love, remind me that I have treated you as an enemy, and you continue to graciously love me. Amen. Ask God how you might be a good and loving person for all those in your life.

Dig A Little Deeper:

Lk 4:14 Matthew reports Jesus returns to Galilee after John is arrested (Mt 4:12). Jesus begins his ministry by teaching. He will later stop healing and performing miracles to return to teaching (4:42-44). Why is teaching more important than these other forms of ministry?

Lk 4:16 This is Jesus’ first visit to his hometown since his ministry began. Most likely synagogue services in his time included two prayers, two readings, a teaching, and a priestly blessing from Numbers 6:24-26.

Lk 4:17 This is the only clear reference in scripture to Jesus knowing how to read. What he reads is a combination of Isaiah 58:6 and 61:1-2. How does his ministry reflect these words from Isaiah?

Lk 4:19 This reading describes actions that occur during a Jubilee year celebration (Lev 25:8-55). According to the Law, every fifty years, all debts are to be forgiven and all land returned to the original families. Why do you think the Law includes this radical provision? How does Jesus fulfill these actions?

Lk 4:21 The verb translated “is fulfilled” (Greek “peplerotai”) indicates salvation is already achieved in the person of Jesus. Salvation is not initiated on the cross; it arrives with the incarnation and/or ministry of Jesus. How does this idea change how we might see the crucifixion and resurrection?

Lk 4:25 Jesus references 1 Kings 17-18 and 2 Kings 5.

Lk 4:29 People disagree over whether Jesus passing through the crowd is a miracle or the Nazarene community stepping away from murder.

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