Summary: We need to hear that Jesus came to declare God’s love, set the captives free, and heal the sic. We also need to realize that Jesus’ ministry is now our ministry.
Luke 4:14-21 “Good News We Need to Hear”
Though we have recently had a brutal cold snap, and some of us have yet to get down all of our Christmas decorations, it won’t be long before the month of May arrives and auditoriums around the country will reverberate with the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” Hundreds of thousand of young people will receive their degrees and find themselves asking, “Now that I have the degree, what am I going to do with it?”
It may appear to be a crass comparison, but our baptism has several similarities to receiving a diploma. Graduation marks not only the end but a beginning—just like baptism. Like baptism, a diploma opens up many possibilities, but each one of us needs to discern which possibilities will become our realities.
When Jesus was baptized, he received the Holy Spirit and the affirmation from God that he was the Son of God, the Messiah, in whom God was well pleased. In the weeks following, Jesus sought to discern what shape his ministry was to take. He returns to his hometown in today’s gospel text to announce what he has decided to do.
SET THE CAPTIVES FREE
Jesus selects a passage from the prophet Isaiah as his personal mission statement. “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.”
The people of Israel and the world had waited a long time for this to happen—the coming of the new age. Jesus understood that he was the fulfillment of this scripture. Through him, people would be freed.
The words of Isaiah are not some generic statement what everyone hopes will happen. We know that Jesus did exactly what he said he would do, because setting us free is Jesus’ ministry to us.
• By his death and resurrection, Jesus has set us free from our sin. Not only does sin no longer need to have any power over us, we are also forgiven and we can walk in the newness of life that forgiveness provides us.
• Jesus frees us from our fears and worries. We do not need to live storm-tossed lives. We can experience the peace that passes understanding as we live in the reality that God holds us in the palm of his hand.
• Jesus blesses us with an abundant life. Not necessarily an affluent or comfortable life, but an abundant life—a life that doesn’t just leave and impression, but rather one that leaves a legacy.
JESUS’ MINISTRY AND OUR MINISTRY
It is wonderful to be able to sit in the blessings of our baptism and bask in God’s love. We know that there is more to the Christian life and being a disciple of Jesus than that, though. We know that as God’s children and as members of the Body of Christ, Jesus’ ministry becomes our ministry. We have been set free, and we now live to set others free.
America might be called the land of the free, but we are not a free people.
• We chain ourselves to economic slavery, because we can’t get ourselves to stop believing that our lives will be better if we have more and bigger things.
• We keep hectic schedules because we believe that “doing” means that we are useful and have value. We are not content to simply “be.”
• We are a country wrapped in fear—not only fear from terrorists, but fear of outsiders, fear of people who are different than us, fear of the new and different.
We are called to proclaim the favor of the Lord and the release of captives to the people around us, people who are enslaved, burdened, and empty.
MINISTRY AT HOME
Jesus returned home to minister to the people of his hometown. His actions underscore the reality that ministry begins at home.
Home ministry is the most difficult ministry that we have. In our home and our work, we need to walk our talk. Our faith needs to be genuine, and our Christian walk needs to be in line with what we say we believe, and who we understand God to be.
Today is a day of Good news. Not only do we hear the life changing good news for ourselves, we also receive with it a purpose and direction for our lives. We are free and live that others might be free, too.
We can also paraphrase the words from Isaiah and make them a little more applicable to our lives. The mission becomes our mission statement, “To invite everyone to a new life in Christ, a deeper relationship with Christ, and spirit-filled service for Christ.