27th January 2019

padlocks promises castle-505878.jpg

Promises, promises...

It is sometimes said that after World War Two the conduct of politics changed as the parties adopted the advertising techniques of the washing powder manufacturers.  Across the years since this has grown and developed with the parties retaining major advertising firms and spending vast amounts of money on advertising whether old fashioned billboards or more recently through social media.  Election by election the parties have sought to outbid each other for votes.  The promises in their manifestoes have more and more extravagant.  As the gap between promise and delivery has grown so too has cynicism about politics.


The incident in our gospel reading occurs at the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus.  He reads a passage at his home synagogue in Nazareth. In verses 18-19 of our reading He quotes from the book of the prophet Isaiah 61:1-2. Having read the passage, he declares (v21) 'Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’

This passage is often called 'The Nazareth Manifesto'. This is perhaps a little unfortunate given what I have said about cynicism about manifestoes. When we hear these words and look at the world around us, we might, like electors of party promises, be cynical about this manifesto.  But as we read the unfolding gospel story, we do see Jesus fulfilling these words through his healings and in other ways.  


Of course, it has to be said he didn't heal everyone.  His healings and other wonderful works were (to use a word we find in John's gospel) 'signs', first instalments, of what is to come. As Christians we are called to live in hope.  The kingdom of God broke through in the life and ministry of Jesus, and it continues to break through by the work of the Spirit in our own day. We look forward to the day when it dawns in its fulness when Christ returns. He has made a promise and he will fulfil it.