Summary: Through this Scripture, Jesus announces his mission statement but he also give us our mission statement as well
We long to have our lives matter. It starts as children and our fascination with super heroes. And in our 20’s and 30’s, we try to answer who we are and why we are here. It’s not enough for us just to exist, we need our life to mean something. And then we hit mid life and the supposed crisis which comes with it as we consider the lives we’ve led and the impact we’ve had. It’s why we’re drawn this time of year o watch the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” the story of a man named George who feels worthless and is ready to commit suicide only to discover the impact his life has had on so many people. We want to know we have been created with meaning and purpose. And the Good News is that we find both of these things in the birth of the One we will celebrate this week, Jesus.
In order to connect with the true meaning of this time of year, we’ve been looking at the purpose and meaning of the Messiah, why he came in the first place. When Jesus started his ministry, he went to his hometown synagogue and opened up the Scriptures to read Isaiah 61. Through this Scripture, Jesus announces his mission statement but he also give us our mission statement as well. This passage would have been one of the favorite Scriptures of Jesus’ day and more than likely, those who heard it had it memorized. In verse 6, it says, “And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God..” You are a priest. Priests of the Lord is important in understanding our mission and purpose in life. Most likely, when you hear the word priest, you think of full time ordained clergy. But in the Old Testament, the priest served only part time and was considered to be the mediator between God and His people. God would pour his blessings on the priest as a result of his sacrifices on behalf of the people and then the priest would extend those blessings to the people. So according to Isaiah 61, you and I are priests of the Lord. We are vessels through which God works and moves in the world.
The first time the word priest is used is not to describe an individual but to describe the whole nation of Israel. In Exodus 19:6, it says “Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” To be a part of the people of God is to be a vessel through which God’s blessings flow.” The New Testament writers agree with this. I Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” The mission of God is not the work of a few people but all the people who claim Jesus because you are a royal priesthood. You are a priest.
Paul says, you are not only a priest but a temple of God as well. According to Jewish thought, the temple was the place where heaven and earth overlap. I Cor 3:16 , Paul asks “Did you not know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” The temple was considered to be the place where you encounter the holy. What’s he’s saying is, you are the place where heaven and earth meet and when people meet you, they encounter the holy. You and I both individually and corporately, are walking and talking places where heaven and earth meet. That’s a calling.
For the remainder of this message, I want us to look at the calling of Mary which will teach us four keys to receive our calling. The first thing we need to accept is to embrace that God wants to do great things through our lives. When God called Mary, the angel said to her, “You have found favor with God.” Granted, Mary played a key role in God’s plan of salvation. Not all of us are going to give birth to the Son of God. The problem is that we never think God can or will do something significant through us. Sometimes, it’s a lot of easier to look at other people and see that they are highly favored. But it is quite another to look at ourselves and claim that we are highly favored or that God wants to do great things through us. And yet, that is what God wants you to embrace. It’s so easy to get mired in the boring day to day activities of life and the drudgery of the same routine of work, eat, take care of the kids, do housework and then sleep that we forget how to dream. A lot of times, we’re just trying to hang on and make it through just another day. It’s not that we can’t pursue our calling amidst our daily lives and activities, in fact that’s one of the places we’re meant to live that out. But when the normal day to day activities becomes the totality of who we are and the drone of routine can drown out the voice of God, then we miss God’s call for our lives. We were created for so much more than just getting by. We are meant to be priests, God’s holy vessels and agents in the world. What would happen if we embraced that?