Sunday, January 4, 2015
Our Eyes Fixed on Him
Luke 4:18 “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,
Luke 4:19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Luke 4:20 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.
Jesus had arrived home in Nazareth and, as would be his normal custom, attended the synagogue. He was participating in the scripture reading and he opened the scroll and read the prophetic words of Isaiah. After he had read them, he let the people know that these words were now being fulfilled in their very midst.
The Spirit of the Lord had come upon Jesus Christ when he was baptized and he was anointed by his Father to bring good news to the poor. The poor included all of those who were spiritually poor — those who did not know God. The words had another prophetic bent to them as the good news about Jesus would eventually reach to the gentiles as well. For the Jews, the gentiles were considered especially spiritually poor.
Jesus’ ministry would include healing the sick and numerous times we hear witness of the blind receiving their sight. Over and over again we are reminded that this is physical but also spiritual. The spiritual blindness of the religious leaders is a constant reminder and warning for those who view themselves as “religious.” It’s possible to receive our spiritual sight and our “nearsightedness” (self-centeredness) can be healed when we lift up our faces and fix our eyes on Jesus! Sight is restored and those who have been oppressed by the legalism of a religious system will be set free.
The freedom is the year of the Lord’s favor — a year of Jubilee. Jesus’ arrival announces a real year of Jubilee, in which all debts are paid and all slaves are given their freedom. The Jews had been instructed to celebrate Jubilee, but they had not. Now, Jesus was coming to bring a real Jubilee.
Origen, a great spiritual leader and scholar of the 3rd century was a man who wanted to know Christ. In his preaching he challenged his hearers to fix their eyes on Jesus and as he contemplated this very passage.
When Jesus had read this passage, he rolled up “the scroll, gave it to the servant, and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.” Now too, if you want it, your eyes can be fixed on the Savior in this synagogue, here in this assembly. When you direct the principal power of seeing in your heart to wisdom and truth and to contemplating God’s Only-Begotten, your eyes gaze on Jesus. Blessed is that congregation of which Scripture testifies that “the eyes of all were fixed on him!” How much would I wish that this assembly gave such testimony. I wish that the eyes of all (of catechumens and faithful, of women, men and children)—not the eyes of the body, but the eyes of the soul—would gaze upon Jesus. When you look to him, your faces will be shining from the light of his gaze. You will be able to say, “The light of your face, Lord, has made its mark upon us.” (Origen, HOMILIES ON THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 32.6.)
Today the word will be proclaimed in our hearing. The challenge comes to us from Origen. When the scripture has been read and proclaimed, will we then fix our eyes on Jesus? All preaching and proclamation should point in the direction of Jesus Christ. Every person in every congregation should be turned in the direction of Jesus. Our eyes are to be fixed on him and when this happens the prophesy is revealed in our very presence.
The mystery of God is greater than we can comprehend, and when we refuse to look to Jesus, we will join the religious leaders of old in spiritual near-sightedness. The word is proclaimed, now may we lift up our heads and fix our eyes on Jesus.
Lord, may I seek you and find you, keeping my eyes focused on you. Amen.