December 17

Luke 4:16-21, Hopejennifer-payne

By Jennifer Gallardo-Payne

“Our Father, who art in Heaven…”
“We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty…”
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…”
“For God so loved the world…”
“In the beginning God created…”
“The Lord is my Shepherd…”

The above phrases are probably familiar to a lot of us, and I would say that I’m guilty of not always paying attention to what these quotes mean to me as I say or hear them. I am distracted, disinterested, or just plain lazy and so I miss their deeper meanings and promises, figuring I’ll just say or hear them again soon and pay attention then.

Jesus visited his home synagogue and read the words of Isaiah to the people present. These were words that the congregation had heard numerous times and probably didn’t give much thought to them as Jesus was reading them. They were distracted or disinterested. But then Jesus throws out the zinger… “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Whoa! Wait! What scripture? What does he mean? Jesus got their  attention.

Had I been sitting in that synagogue at that moment, I probably would’ve pulled out my pocket scroll of Isaiah and, after consulting the bulletin, found the passage, given it a quick read, and then a second reading before ever putting two and two together that this Jesus, Joseph’s kid from around the block, just said he was sent to do all these incredible things. Some nerve, that kid! Offering hope, freedom, good news, and peace like that! Who does he think he is?

But perhaps there was that one person, maybe in the back row, who paid close attention to all of this, and thought, “Praise God! This is just what I needed to hear! And look, there’s the man who will make it all possible!” This one person believed in what Jesus was offering – freedom, recovery, release. This one person left the synagogue with a renewed spirit and hope for their future. This was the one person Jesus was meant to speak to.

He desires to speak to all of us, if we give Him the opportunity. When we pay attention and give God a chance, He speaks to our hearts and gives us the perfect thing we need – comfort, peace, encouragement, release. It is through our faith in Him that we can hope for better situations for ourselves, expecting Him to provide exactly what we need when we need it.

How often do I miss out on those moments of encouragement by being distracted or lazy in my worship of the Lord? How many times have I said the Lord’s Prayer with an expectant heart? How many hymns have I sung without thinking about who I’m singing for? How much is God wanting to give me if I would just focus on Him and not my fears? Maybe I should stop my worrying and pay attention to that Joseph’s kid.

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