24 January 2016

Luke 4:14-21

“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (v. 21)

Psalm: Psalm 19


Jesus has returned to his home town after his Baptism, the descent of the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:21-22), and the temptations in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13).

The beginning of Jesus' ministry is littered with references to the signs of his continuity with the line of Jewish kingship stretching back to David. In the Davidic tradition, the signs of God's call to kingship begin with anointing of the chosen one by a prophet: David is anointed with oil by Samuel (1 Kings 16), Jesus with the water of Baptism by John. The anointed king receives the Spirit - the Spirit comes "mightily upon David" (1 Kings 16:13) from the day of his anointing, and on Jesus as he prays after his baptism. Signs follow, demonstrating the power of the Spirit: David defeats Goliath against the odds (1 Kings 17), Jesus performs signs, teaches with authority, and heals.

However, there are indications that, as well being in continuity with the line of David, the kingship of Jesus will be of a different kind. While the people acclaim David ('Saul has killed his thousands, but David his tens of thousands'), the rejection of Jesus by his own community is a sign of things to come (Luke 4:28-29). Where David ascended a throne, Jesus ascends a cross.

The Gospel writers constantly wrestle with the paradox that Jesus fulfils Israel's expectation of the restoration of David's line, but in a way that was completely unexpected. Luke's Gospel is preparing us for the nature of Jesus' kingship and a kingdom built not on force of arms, but by a love, and life, that even death could not destroy.

To Ponder

  • How do you relate to the language of kingship applied to Jesus?
  • What other imagery, language, titles - from the Bible or from other sources - help to express Jesus' identity for you?

Bible notes author

The Revd Carole Irwin

Carole is a presbyter in the Methodist Church. She has served in circuits in Folkestone and Bradford, and is currently Director of Studies at Wesley House, Cambridge.