Today’s Bible reading
And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
More thoughts for meditation
This week we will be considering the mystery of the Lord of the sabbath. Jesus is recorded as teaching, healing, feeding, liberating, and forgiving throughout a series of Sabbath interactions. Why is it notable that these divine works happen on specific days and why are they so often controversial? We read of Jesus being culturally located in faithful practice of first-century Judaism yet the encounter in today’s Bible reading ends with him being run out of town by the synagogue.
How might we better understand Sabbath? Rabbi Jonathan Sacks suggests that “we rehearse the world to come one day in seven, no dominance, no striving, only abundance. It is a foundational echo of creation, recalling order from chaos as in the creation myth”. Further, Sacks says it “is practicing, contemplating and enacting the promised land of freedom, while being on the way”. It is with this definition in mind that we turn to Jesus reading Isaiah’s jubilee text on a Sabbath and claiming it has been fulfilled in their hearing. Jesus appears to be aligning his radical presence, which is breaking into this world, with the promise of freedom at the heart of Sabbath. It is a message of liberation, of upending worldly priorities, good news to the poor, liberty to captives, freedom to the oppressed, new sight. Jesus is claiming to be delivering Sabbath in their midst.
Suggestions for action
A Prayer of the church
God of rest,
Today I make the active choice
To enter into your rest,
And to join with you
In delighting in this good world you have made,
And dreaming of the perfect world you will remake.
I choose to tune out,
Of demands and deadlines,
Of performance pressures,
Of flickering screens,
Of that which robs my soul of joy,
And the ways in which the world
Seeks to define and shape my identity.
I choose to tune in,
To your affirmation and love,
To the celebration of freedom,
To worship and your word,
To the enjoyment of that which fills my soul with joy,
And reminds me of my identity in Christ,
As a deeply loved child of God.