Summary: Jesus' mission statement is the modle for our own personal mission statement.
What is your life’s mission? Is that a question you’ve ever even considered? Every business school teaches the importance of developing a mission statement for a business or an organization, but have you ever thought about the need for a mission statement in our personal lives?
Jesus certainly did. And this morning, as we wrap up our series that focuses on the foundations that Jesus laid at the beginning of His ministry, we’ll take a look at His personal mission statement and then see why that is something that ought to guide our lives as well.
Last week, we looked at the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness and this morning we’ll pick up in Luke’s gospel account. So turn with me to Luke chapter 4 and follow along as I begin reading in verse 14:
14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
Luke 4:14, 15 (ESV)
In his account, Luke makes it sound like he is picking up chronologically right after the temptation of Jesus. But as we discovered in our introduction to the gospels, the gospel writers don’t always follow a strictly chronological pattern. In fact here, Luke skips over much of the first year of Jesus’ ministry.
Based on John’s gospel account, we know that after His temptation in the wilderness, Jesus called His first disciples and then returns north to Galilee to the town of Cana where He performs His first miracle – turning water to wine. He continues to Capernaum, on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee and remains there for a short time. At Passover, Jesus travels to Jerusalem, where he drives the moneychangers from the Temple for the first time. There, He also has His encounter with Nicodemus. As He heads back north, Jesus passes through Samaria, where he encounters the woman at the well in Sychar. He then returns to Cana and heals an official’s son who is sick in Capernaum. It is at that point that Luke picks up his narrative again.
Jesus ministers in the area around his hometown of Nazareth by teaching in the synagogues. These synagogues originated during the Babylonian captivity after the Temple had been destroyed. They were never intended to be e replacement for the Temple, but rather were developed as places of worship that would be accessible to people, much like our local churches today.
The typical service at the synagogue would begin with the singing or reciting of the Psalms followed by reciting of the Shema from the book of Deuteronomy. Then there would be prayers followed by a reading from the Law – the first five books of the Bible – and then a reading from one of the prophets. Then one of the qualified men in the service would instruct on the Bible passages and the service would end with a benediction.
Luke continues with his account as he records what occurred on one particular Sabbath:
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
20 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. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:16-21 (ESV)
At first, it seems a bit strange that Luke would skip over nearly a year of Jesus’ life and begin his narrative of the ministry of Jesus with this event. But upon closer examination, it makes perfect sense. Here, Jesus uses the words of Scripture to identify Himself as the Messiah and to define His mission. Although He has already begun that mission, it takes on a much greater degree of urgency from this point forward.
As Jesus was handed the scroll of Isaiah, he turns to both Isaiah 58 and 61 and reads from the scroll. His audience that day no doubt immediately recognized those passages as prophecies of the Messiah. In fact the word Messiah, a Hebrew word and the Greek word Christ, both literally mean “the anointed One” so the reference to being anointed by God the Father clearly show that the Messiah is being pictured in these passages.