KEY TEXT: Luke 4:20-21 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
KEY THOT: The Jews must have heard Isaiah 61:1-3 read thousands of times in the synagogues ever since synagogue worship was set up during the Babylonian exile after 587 BC. But the reader would have said, “One day, this Scripture will be fulfilled.” However, Jesus, speaking under the anointing of the Spirit of God, declared: “TODAY, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The Written Word has just become the Living Word—and the people were amazed and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, "Is not this Joseph's son?" (Luke 4:22).
What made Jesus’ reading different from other readings they heard many times before? It was the Spirit of God resting upon Him. When a preacher teaches under the anointing of the Spirit of God, Scripture comes alive and the written texts become the living words that are spirit and life: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). Only the Spirit can give life because He is the Author of Scripture and Author of life. Apart from the Spirit’s inspiration, Scripture is just printed letters and texts. Or in our digital age, a series of 0’s and 1’s on our mobile devices. Just quoting Scripture will not turn the printed texts into the sword of the Spirit—it can only be the "sword of the Spirit" when the person is speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit, not his own thoughts.
What is the Word of God? Not the bible in and of itself—for they are just letters: “our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor 3:5-6). Only the Spirit can give us the Word that imparts life. Just quoting the scriptures in itself without the inspiration of the Spirit does not necessary means we are giving out the Word of God—for even non-believers and the devil can quote scriptures. In fact, the devil quoted Psalm 91:11-12 to Jesus at the temptation: "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone'" (Matt 4:6). Surely, the devil was not offering Jesus spirit and life—on the contrary, the devil was offering Jesus flesh and death.
For those of us who handle the Scripture as preachers and teachers, it is not enough to affirm, "Thus says the Scripture...": instead, we must also be able to say, “Thus says the Spirit…” (Acts 21:11) and "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). In other words, our preaching and teaching must not only be scriptural, it must be prophetic so that the written texts might become the living Word of God to our hearers. Only then will the listeners marvel at the gracious words coming out of our mouth.
Father God, we thank You that You have given us the Scripture which contains Your Word. Anoint us with Your Spirit, the Author of Scripture, so that we may speak the authoritative inerrant and infallible living Word of God to the people. Amen.