Summary: A sermon about following the REAL Jesus.
"Jesus' Mission Statement"
Before our passage for this morning Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist.
We talked about this two weeks ago.
We are told that "heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit came down on [Jesus] in bodily form like a dove.
And there was a voice from heaven: 'You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.'"
We are told that Jesus returned from His baptism "full of the Holy Spirit" and then was led by the "Holy Spirit" into the wilderness for a time of testing as Jesus refused the pathways that the devil offered--the pathways of the world.
In the wilderness Jesus refused to be lured by wealth, power and spectacle.
Then we are told, at the beginning of our lesson for this morning, that "Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee..."
And Jesus went to a synagogue in Nazareth, His hometown.
And this is where Jesus read from the scroll from the prophet Isaiah.
"He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to preach good news to the poor,
to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Then Jesus rolled up the scroll and began to tell the people: "Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled just as you heard it."
Mike read the Scripture that Jesus read from at the beginning of today's service.
The only difference is that Jesus left one thing out from what it says in Isaiah Chapter 61:1-2.
And that one thing is "to proclaim...a day of vindication for our God."
Nearly every biblical scholar worth his or her salt will tell you that in reading and reinterpreting these Words from Isaiah Jesus is stating His mission.
And therefore, it should go without saying that, as Christians, we are called to understand our purpose and mission in accordance with Jesus' understanding of His purpose and mission.
When Jesus announces: "Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled just as you heard it," He is proclaiming that the promised liberating work of the Holy Spirit of God is present in Him.
And the author of Luke--who is the same guy who wrote down the Words to the Book of Acts--traces that continuing fulfillment through the Acts of the Church.
And it continues in us today through the power of the very same Holy Spirit.
It is the "good news."
What is striking, though, is that this is only "good news" to us when we are willing to admit what is hard in our lives, what is lacking, what has been most difficult, that we sin, that we fall short of the glory of God and that all our work and trying is just filthy rages without the "Good News."
And that is because it is not “good news” in general, but rather good news for the poor.
It is not just release, but release to those who are captive, sight to those who are blind, freedom to those who are oppressed.
Do you see what I mean?
God offers Words of comfort, but these words only mean something to those living with discomfort.
How do you hear Jesus' Words today?
How do I?
In this world, so many of us spend so much time acting as if we have it all together.
We spend so much money trying to look better, get fitter, appear younger.
There is so much pressure on us externally from the culture at large and internally from ourselves to not need anything or anyone.
It's no wonder that the Good News of Jesus is often rejected or ignored by so many.
And you know what?
The stories we tell ourselves about being perfect, the commercials we pay attention to telling us that we really can have it all, the ads that promise us that if we just purchase this product we’ll never feel insecure again – these are all false.
And deep down we know it, don't we?
So while Jesus’ message is "Good News", in order for us to hear it that way it must first sound to us like bad news, the bad news that we are not who we want to be, can be, and should be…and we never will be.
When I was in college, I gave a speech about Christianity in a psychology class I was taking.
Before the speech, I handed out tracts that I had.
On the front of the tracts was written the words: "Good News."
After class, I saw that a number of classmates had left the tracts I passed out on their desks, so I went around and picked up the ones that were left.