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Posted: February 7, 2013 9:12 p.m.

Scharf: Today, God is working

Today is a big day. It might not seem like anything special, but let me let you in on a secret. Today, God is working. Our text is the story of one of Jesus’ first sermons, in his hometown of Nazareth. Imagine the scene Luke 4 paints: The people were excited having heard rumors that he had made a pretty big splash on the rabbi scene in Jerusalem, and now he was back home to teach. He is given the honor of reading the Scripture in synagogue. He takes the seat of the teacher and opens his mouth.

He reads Isaiah prophesying the Messiah who was to come — the Anointed One who would free men from their slavery to sin, who would give sight to those walking in darkness, who would keep all of God’s promises, destroying Satan’s head so that we could be rescued from the oppression of sin and live in the favor of God forever in heaven. The audience understood that God’s promises were powerful. But now Jesus starts his sermon on that text.

Verse 21, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Have you ever been absolutely shocked by something that came out of someone’s mouth? When your jaw hit the floor? This would’ve been one of those times. He just told them that the time of sin being destroyed and freedom given, the time of eyes being opened to see God, the time of the Kingdom of God — is today.

That’s a word the Gospel writer Luke uses again and again to describe promises fulfilled — God accomplishing his work. God bringing his salvation to bear — today. This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky dream, the someday, that we can so often see it as. This thing is happening — today. So Luke tells us at his birth, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you.” At his baptism, “You are my Son. Today, I have become your Father.”

Today the promises of the Messiah are fulfilled: In chapter 5, today you see new things as Jesus heals the paralytic. Jesus told Zacchaeus, “Today, salvation has come to this house,” and to the thief on the cross, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”

Not someday, not that nebulous time in our minds when everything will work out and all will be happy. Not someday, when we’ll be through all our problems and can finally enjoy life. Today. Today, Jesus said, it is all happening. Today, Scripture is fulfilled. Today everything you’ve been waiting for is here.

His first hearers had a hard time coming to grips with it. They were expecting something else, not this boy who had grown up with them. They had envisioned what God’s Messiah would look like and they weren’t ready to see what was happening today.

Are we? Or have we contented ourselves with a picture of our own making of what we’re looking for, not seeing what God is doing in our lives right now? Have we set up what we want and failed to appreciate what he’s given us, what he’s doing? It’s too easy to imagine a goal of how you think life should look and then complain about the detours on your way to that goal — instead of seeing God working in those detours, or seeing your opportunity for God to work in you and through you in them. That’s the parent who doesn’t take the opportunity to discipline as a chance to share God’s will and his love with their child. That’s the mistreated employee who doesn’t take the unfair treatment as a chance to demonstrate faithfulness and sacrificial work. That’s the spouse who doesn’t see the argument as a chance to grow in forgiving and living love — especially when they don’t deserve it — and instead works for the goal of making everything even.

We get a picture of what we want and we miss what he said: “Today.” Don’t let that happen with Jesus. Realize that “today” God is working. So, if church becomes just something that you do because it’s what you do...if God’s word just kind of becomes background music in your life...if you go through these motions just because they are comfortable — you don’t see God. You don’t know Jesus. So please, listen to what Jesus said is really happening today. Today, God is working. It is a specific work, and it is a salvific work.

Now that’s not a word we use often, but it’s accurate. What Jesus fulfilled, what Jesus lived — it was all about our salvation. Verse 18, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Today, Jesus is our Savior. Today, God is working in you.

Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Worship every Sunday is at 10:30 a m. Full sermons and more information can be found at

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