Recently, I was reading Luke’s Gospel, and using the New International Version (NIV). It’s a version I haven’t used in quite some time. In the Vineyard church I used to belong to, we affectionately referred to NIV, as “Necessary in Vineyard.” But I drifted away from it. No particular reason. I guess I just became accustomed to using either the Names of God (NOG), or God’s Word Translation (GW). By the way, if you ever use either of those two, just know that they are exactly the same, accept NOG actually restores the transliterations of ancient names — such as Yahweh, El Shadday, El Elyon, and Adonay — so you can better understand the rich meaning of God’s names that are found in the original Hebrew and Aramaic text.
Anyway, today I switched over to read NIV, and ran across the time when Jesus had returned to his home town, and was teaching in the Synagogue. He was reading from Isaiah 61:1–2; 58:6:
“The Spirit of the Lord is with me.
He has anointed me
to tell the Good News to the poor.
He has sent me
to announce forgiveness to the prisoners of sin
and the restoring of sight to the blind,
to forgive those who have been shattered by sin,
to announce the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Which was nice. Everyone probably nodded their heads and said, “Amen, brother. Amen.” But then he sat down and added: “This passage came true today when you heard me read it.” Whoa! What did he say? How audacious of him! Was he saying that he was the one who was “anointed” . . . that he was the one called “to tell the Good News” . . . “to announce forgiveness” and all of the other things? You know, restoring sight to the blind, forgiving sinners . . . Hey! Only G-d could do those things! Oh my G-d, let’s stone the heretic!
Well, they chased him outdoors and were going to kill him . . . but he just walked through the crowd. Then, now get this, he went about doing all of those things he said he was anointed to do!
Then, I found an interesting take on how the NIV renders verses 38-44:
Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.
When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ.
At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea (Luke 4:38-44)
Oh man! There is so much there to talk about, but I love the way NIV ends all this: “He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.” What an interesting way of putting it. Most of us would give up and go home. But not Jesus. He kept on — no matter how difficult the situation became. No matter how much opposition He may have experienced or even many needs there were in each town he visited. No matter what others expected of him — “He kept on!”
Why? Well, quite simply because whatever other needs the people had, their greatest need was to hear and receive the gospel! Whatever needs may have troubled them — even physical healing —they only affected this life. But, oh Glory! Eternity is forever! As Buzz Lightyear declares, “To infinity and beyond!” Glory! Let’s go beyond! As the great hymn declares:
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun!
Man, we could stop here and dance around our furniture over that one! But, I started wondering how much Jesus must have longed for his work to be finished? I mean, did he ever stare off into the horizon and see a time when he could live within the hearts of those who swore their allegiance to him; a time when he would never leave them? Knowing that His Spirit would be given to them to provide the courage, the power, the wisdom to carry on His work?
Well, as difficult as it may have been for him, until that day came He had a job to do. Christ didn’t ignore either the urgent need or the ultimate goal — but He also never allowed the needs of those living under the weight of sin to hinder that goal.
When the enormous weight of reality fell on Him, with tears of blood dripping from His face, He cried out, “Father, if it is your will, take this cup of suffering away from me.” Oh my! Who could blame Him? Couldn’t His Father find another way? But no. He had to suffer for our sake, and He knew it. So He confessed, “However Father, your will must be done, not mine.”
Oh brothers and sisters of faith, with that in mind, please understand that we need to pay attention to how we guide our lives. We are running out of time, so we must use the wisdom our Lord has given us to make use of the time we have left. So then, be very careful how you live. Don’t live like foolish people but like wise people. Make the most of your opportunities because these are evil days. do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:15-17).
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