Summary: This is the final sermon in a series based on Luke 4:14-21 and Isaiah 61:1-4 which equates the mission of the Church with that of Jesus as He states it in Luke 4:18-19. The mission calls of immediate obedience without delay.
The Urgency of His Mission and Ours
As we have discovered, our Lord clearly defines His mission in Luke 4:18-19. Four points stand out. Just as Jesus did, we His Church must:
1. Bring good news to the poor
2. Proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind
3. Let the oppressed go free
4. Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
Point number two has two subdivisions. Not only does the Holy Spirit call us to proclaim release to the captives; He also commissions us to proclaim recover of sight to the blind. The ministry of “letting the oppressed go free” means we both preach and practice forgiveness.
After a thorough examination of our text we can picture His mission and ours as individual slices of a piece of pie or as the spokes of a bicycle wheel. The whole of His mission and ours contains five components:
1. Social Holiness/Justice
Jesus fulfilled these five ministries during His earthly mission, and by the power of His Spirit, we are enabled to do the same as we minister in our post modern world.
Our mission begins in a ministry of social holiness/justice as we “bring good news to the poor.” When we minister with the poor, it is as if we are ministering to Jesus Himself. The poor for whom we care include those who are homeless in our community, the 12.5 million school children that go hungry in our country each day, and 24,000 that die from starvation in our world on a daily basis. As He empowered Wesley and the Early Methodists, so the Holy Spirit will empower us to:
1. Meet the needs of the poor
2. Solicit resources for the poor
3. Become advocates for the poor
Our mission begins in a ministry of social holiness/social justice among the poor.
The mission continues as a ministry of evangelism. “Proclaiming release to the captive” is a call to evangelize the lost. “To offer them Jesus.” This first word that Jesus uses for proclaim is the word from which we derive our words evangelist, evangelize, and evangelism. Those who are “oppressed” are those who are enslaved in bondage to sin. We offer them Jesus as their Liberator from bondage to sin and death, their Hope for minding meaning and purpose in life.
Along with evangelism comes the ministry of healing. Jesus not only “proclaimed recovery of sight to the blind,” He “healed every disease and sickness among the people—the lame walked, lepers were cleansed, the deaf heard, and the dead were raised.” Following in His steps we His Church must obey James 5:14-16: “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” We not only offer Jesus to those who are lost, we anoint and pray for His healing of those who are sick.
His mission and ours is a ministry of forgiveness. We proclaim the message of forgiveness through the cross of Jesus, but we also grant forgiveness to all those who have wronged us, remembering that “If we forgive those who sin against us, our heavenly Father will forgive us. But if we refuse to forgive others, our Father will not forgive our sins.” Forgiven people always forgive. Christians neither keep account of wrongs nor bear grudges.
The fifth part of our mission as Christ’s Church is preaching. When Jesus concludes by saying, “To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”; this second word He uses for “proclaim” literally means “preach.” Our preaching will often be evangelistic in nature, uplifting Jesus as the only way to peace with God; but many times it will exalt Him as our pattern for living our Christian lives in today’s post Christian society. The message we preach is one that will correct, rebuke, and encourage each other in our daily Christian walk.
The Holy Spirit calls us on our mission of: social justice, evangelism, healing, forgiveness, and preaching. We must catch the vision that our mission is most urgent, for Jesus calls us “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” The King James translation says we are “to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” The acceptable year of the Lord is the year of the Lord’s favor. Here Jesus emphasizes the urgency of our mission.” The year of the Lord’s favor or the acceptable year of the Lord refers to the time of God’s kindness, goodwill, and grace. It is the time He has ordained to hear and help those who call upon His name before He brings world history to an end.