Once again, I'm scrambling to make a blog out of beauty. Over five times since the start of reading this Biblica New Testament, I have checked the cover to see if it is really the NIV. I have taken out my Bible to check and make sure words haven't been changed. That's how shocked I am at the new things popping out at me.
Jesus reveals himself to be the Messiah with a "coming out party" at the synagogue. It is thought to be the inauguration of his 3 year earthly ministry which started at age 30 after 3 decades of carpentry and study. A great example of the importance of preparation before presentation.
He stands before the religious leaders and opens the scroll of Isaiah to read publicly. A few phrases gripped me and got me thinking.
"Unrolling it, he found the place where it was written..." This was none other than Isaiah 61. Now I don't know how much casual reading you've done in the book of Isaiah, but trust me when I say there's a load of material that isn't the most cheery. In fact, the better part of Isaiah, though sprinkled with encouragement, is checkered with judgement for sin and the promise of retribution for rebellious idolatry and spiritual prostitution. It is heavy. Really heavy. Put it this way, he could have chosen from 66 chapters and 1292 verses in Isaiah and yet this place he want to camp out. It was this verse that he wanted to be known for. And just so we understand the intentionality of our Lord, he started the quote and stopped it with precision. In fact, he closed the scroll half way through a verse because he didn't want the second half to be read. Let me tell you what I mean...
He ended the reading in Isaiah with the verse "to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor..." but that is only half the verse. The other half reads: "...and the day of vengeance of our God" Really? Can you do that? Can you choose to open a passage, read the part you want to ready, and stop just before it takes a contextual turn in another less encouraging direction? Hmmm. I was told this wasn't good expository, exegetical preaching. I just found it strange that Jesus "opened the scroll where it was written..." and then made the decision to end at the comma instead of the period. He can do whatever he wants, I'm just saying.
I think it should at least cause us to understand that there are certain contexts of people where you have the right and, dare I say, responsibility to choose your words carefully based on your context, not just the Bible's. If the people group you're talking to need to hear the first half of the verse today, share the first half. If they need to hear the second half tomorrow, share the second half. If they need to hear the whole kit and caboodle, by all mean, lay it on them. Sometimes I think we get overly hung up on not taking God's word out of context that we forget that Jesus did it on certain occasions for certain purposes.
I don't encourage this as a practice, I just think we need to be careful not to make up an air tight theology just cause we are "erring on the safe side". I think God wants us to ask ourselves the question every time we open our mouths with other people, "how much should I say and how should I say it". From there, we ask God to do his thing.