"'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, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.'" Luke 4:18,19 (NRSV)
When these words, which Jesus spoke at the beginning of his mission, were read out in Church last Sunday we were informed that some passages from Isaiah 61 were missing.
When I got home I looked it up.
Apart from some paraphrasing the obvious omission came at the end of the reading.
Isaiah 61 has "'and the day of the vengeance of of our God.'" Isaiah 61:2b (NRSV) after "'the year of the Lord's favor.'" Isaiah 61:2a (NRSV)
Could it be that, like myself and many other Progressive Christians, Jesus did not believe that God was vengeful.
The overwhelming spirit of Jesus' mission was love, forgiveness, compassion, and generosity (abundance).
It has been demonstrated elsewhere that the writers of the Gospels put words retrospectively into Jesus' mouth.
Could it be that we are being given justification for our practice of removing from the end of passages about God's nature the additional lines of vengeance and punishment.
This occurs elsewhere in the Bible.
Jonah's declaration of the nature of God (Jonah 4:2b) which refers to Exodus 34:6,7 omits the last lines about guilt and punishment.
Could it be that later writers discerned more clearly the nature of God?
The image of God evolves in the Bible from a primitive tribal god to be appeased to the benevolent, loving Father of all that Jesus showed us.
I am prepare to say that the Old Testament prophets were wrong when they spoke of vengeance and punishment from God.
God is all-loving, all-forgiving, and all-compassionate.
His nature is the abundance of life.
His light has no shadow.
And His heart is full of Love.
(Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.)