This week in worship, we reflected on Luke 4:31-44. Following are three vignettes of this day in Capernaum.
“‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.'” Jesus rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the synagogue assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed on him. He began to explain to them, “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled just as you heard it.” (Luke 4:18-21, CEB)
Liberating the oppressed…freed to serve
After leaving the synagogue, Jesus went home with Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a high fever, and the family asked Jesus to help her. He bent over her and spoke harshly to the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and served them. – Luke 4:38-39 (CEB)
I had been feeling sick for days. I don’t usually let illness slow me down – there is too much to do. But this was different. Scary different.
Despite the warm weather, I couldn’t stay warm. My body ached from trying to stay warm. My daughter tried to feed me a little broth made from the fish my son-in-law, Peter, caught each night. I don’t want her to worry, so I would smile and take a few sips. But nothing helped. Sometimes I couldn’t see straight from the fever that was ravaging my body. But I kept a brave face – even though I was losing hope inside.
As I fell in and out of sleep, I could hear Peter and my daughter talk about this man Jesus. Peter was excited that Jesus would be staying with us while he was in Capernaum. They made plans for meals, Peter and my daughter. But it should have been me that was having these conversations with her. This was her first important guest since they were married, and I can’t do anything but lay in bed.
The Sabbath came and preparations had been completed. I was too ill to participate in the Seder meal. As I lay in bed, I heard the Torah, the prayers, the blessings…and I remembered how Yahweh led us from captivity to freedom so many generations ago. I thought of the Messiah who is yet to come who will free us from the captivity of this Empire. I drifted off with thoughts of God’s Kingdom and the promise yet to come.
In the morning, I knew my time on this earth would be over soon. My hope was to see the sun set on this Sabbath day. To hear the final blessings and promises of Yahweh and the coming Messiah.
Suddenly there was a burst of voices. My daughter was crying and Peter was looking at Jesus, saying something to him. Then all I could see was Jesus. He was saying something, but not to me. I think he told my fever to leave me. Does that make sense?
It must, because as Jesus spoke I felt my fever break. Not only that, I felt no weakness or pain – it was as if I just woke up from the best night of sleep ever. Praise Yahweh! I’m alive! Jesus smiled as I got up. Everyone else had fallen silent. Did they forget this was the Sabbath? Did they forget our hospitality? I immediately began to set the meal for our Sabbath lunch, saying to myself the blessings and thanksgivings I had heard the night before.
What has Jesus liberated you from?
What is your response?