Faith From the Margins to the Web Bible Study
3rd and 4th Sundays after the Epiphany, Year C
The Gospel lessons of the 3rd and 4th Sundays after Epiphany are two parts of one event in the early life and ministry of Jesus. In this Faith from the Margins Bible Study, we chose to read and study them together, pausing to consider what each tells us about who Jesus is:
Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
“Wow” said Mary, “I’m gonna tell you what I heard. That Spirit of Jesus, it was gonna spread to all those countries all around. But first, Jesus…he stood up, he took that scroll, and he wanted to set his people free. But, the eyes of those people…all of them…in that synagogue just set their sights on him. It was like a sign was brought to them, that they could see God through him.”
“He’s coming to do the things that we need someone to do in the world” said Willie. “I think this was one of those times when he was…how do they say it…’about his Father’s business!” The group chuckled as Willie continued, “I think that he took ahold of that opportunity and let people know, this is what I am about.”
“Sure, it was going to come out in the way Jesus did miracles, in the people that he was with…but no mistaking it, he was telling them from the beginning exactly what he was going to do” said Mary.
“You know, this shows me how awesome Jesus was…he hadn’t even done his ministry yet. He was young, in the synagogue with the elders. His Mom, Joseph…people who knew him wondering what he was doing standing up there. I wonder what they were thinking about him?”
“Well it’s interesting that you asked that” I said, “because the next lesson picks up right at that place”
Luke 4: 21-30 (picking up from the previous lesson)
All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.'” And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
“Wow” said Beth. “Jesus had courage!”
“He was speaking some tough stuff. He had no fear of flesh and mankind to preach and get that word out” said David. “I mean he must have had no fear.”
“It goes to show you how strong it is” said Mary, “that there wasn’t going to be any backing down.”
“It’s kind of a complicated, deep and beautiful pictures of Jesus, isn’t it?” I asked. “How do these lessons tell us more about how Jesus is?”
Jamillah responded, “I think I’m beginning to really see the meaning of this, of how Jesus is Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Not just one thing, but so many things.”
“You know, its so interesting” said David, “We all come at this in different ways but it keeps coming back to this same place where we learn something new from each other, and it brings us back to seeing and knowing Jesus.”
Jesus: courageous, prophet, speaker of truth. One and yet so many things to so many people.
We closed our Epiphany bible study with Mary offering up a prayer:
“Oh merciful, Heavenly Father, we come to you at this hour thanking you for this time to get to know you better. God we just give you thanks, in this day and every day. We love you no matter what, because we know you are here for us no matter what. And I bring this is the holy name of Jesus to you.”
And all the people said, AMEN.