Eyes, Ears, (and Hearts?)
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And [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to Him. And He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
20 And He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all the people in the synagogue were intently directed at Him. 21 Now He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” – Luke 4:16-20 [NASB]
I believe it’s a two-fold problem. Maybe it’s only my issue. But I know for certain that I’m at least part of the problem. My hearing isn’t what it used to be. It’s very sad. I love beautiful music. I appreciate fine audio equipment. I even have some fancy earbuds that allow me to hear music in a very immersive manner. But my hearing acumen is waning. Get me in a crowd and I struggle to pick out one voice. Let someone speak too softly and I will not understand them. Have someone speak too fast, and I’m at a loss to understand. So when Diane says something under her breath, or doesn’t face me directly, I will either not hear her at all, or possibly worse, misunderstand what she actually does say. I think it’s mostly on me, but once in a while I wish she would speak more clearly…and maybe louder.
Jesus has no problem speaking clearly. Nor do the people of his hometown have a problem hearing him. In fact, clear speaking and acuity of hearing team up to set the table for conflict and a look into people’s hearts in Jesus’ home town.
Jesus speaks clearly. He chooses the passage to read. He tells them that the prophecy of Isaiah was being fulfilled as he speaks. This is an astounding claim. But it would soon prove to be true. Jesus would heal the blind. He would release the oppressed (think demon-possessed man living among the tombs). He embodied the Lord’s favor. Then he says that the words of Isaiah were fulfilled (literally) “in their ears.”
As Jesus spoke the people were initially impressed. I’m not sure they really understood it, since they attributed him as being Joseph’s son. Then Jesus speaks even more clearly. He reminds them of how God’s love and grace came to gentiles during the days of Elijah and Elisha. He even puts words in their mouths saying that they would surely want him to show his power there as he did in Capernaum. On other occasions Jesus would say that whoever has ears to hear should listen.
All the while the eyes of the people were on Jesus. Sadly, however, it seems that their eyes were focused on what might disqualify Jesus and unseat his claims. And through it all, hearts are revealed. And, again sadly, their hearts lead them to try to throw Jesus off the nearby cliff.
My question is what do you focus your eyes on as you think of Jesus? What do you hear him say? Do you listen for his word in humility? Do you seek to see who he really is? And when your heart is revealed to be broken, corrupt, and faithless, do you try to throw him off the cliff? Or does this take you to a place of repentance at the foot of the cross? Do you seek his mercy and rejoice in God’s favor shown in Jesus? And do you let him reveal his true self to you and seek to hear his full counsel?
Sadly we will show our brokenness all too often in the face of Jesus’ teaching and truth. But the fullness of that truth is seen in how Jesus really did fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah. It would cost him incredible pain and suffering, and even his very life. But this was the means of God’s favor coming to us.
That’s what I want to see and hear. Lord Jesus, open my eyes, ears, and heart by your Holy Spirit so that I may see and hear your grace and truth always! Amen.