January 3, 2011 Devotional

January 3, 2011

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Luke 4:18-20 (Revised Standard)

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Jesus is here, we still have up our decorations celebrating His birth. He did not remain as a baby in the manger. He eventually grew up and right around His third decade of life, He began His ministry. He walks into the synagogue as was His custom and He is handed the scrolls. He finds the place in Isaiah 61 and He begins to read. None of this is a coincidence.

Please read Luke 4:1-30

In the beginning of the chapter we read the story of the Temptation of Jesus. Immediately after that Jesus goes about preaching in the synagogues and today He is in Nazareth, His home town. He walks into the synagogue and this is His custom. The people of the synagogue would be familiar with Him, they know Him and He attends on a regular basis. Much like the people of our home church know us, this is how familiar Jesus is to them. Now in the synagogue the men who could read would take turns reading Scripture. Not all the men could read; this was a luxury for a few, not for all. Jesus is among those who can read and they are used to Him reading because they do hand Him the scroll. Jesus does not turn to the passage in Isaiah on this day because He wants to; Jesus turns to that page because that is where they are. In the synagogue readings they followed a reading plan and this passage is a part of that plan. It just so happens to be the passage from Isaiah where he prophesied about the coming Messiah. All of this is a part of God’s plan.

When Jesus is done, he closes the scroll, hands it back to the attendant and sits down. As everyone looks intently upon Him, Jesus tells them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21) This story does go on about how they reject Him but we are not going to concern ourselves with that today. Instead I want us to go back up to what it is that Jesus says He fulfills.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor.”

God the Father sent God the Spirit to anoint God the Son. The work of the Blessed Trinity is at work here, and in this God is showing that His Son is the anointed Messiah for this world. As the anointed He has a job or responsibility, and what is the first one He mentions? He is here to preach the good news to the poor. Who are the poor? Do you include yourself in this group? Do you think the poor are those who are financially poor, spiritually poor, who do you say they are?  Can it be both? Let us accept the truth that it can be both. This is the first group that Jesus says He is sent to preach to, but then He goes on.

“He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives.”

Who is being held captive? Certainly it is not us, because we worship freely in this country. Are the captives those missionaries in foreign countries that have them in captivity? Is it the women and children who are sold for the sex trade industry? Is it those who are imprisoned because they lack the funds to get an attorney who can prove their innocence? Is it the Christians who live in countries where, should they profess their faith, would then be put to death? Or do you think this just pertains to those who are being held captive by sin?

“Recovering sight to the blind:”

Spiritually blind, physically blind, to what blind is He referring?

“To set at liberty those who are oppressed:”

To give freedom to set free those who are oppressed, demoralized by this world and held down so that the rest of us can climb up.

God sent the Spirit to anoint the Son to preach the good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, to give sight to the blind and to give liberty to those who are oppressed. All of us pray and sing to Jesus Christ to be more like Him, but only a few will truly understand what that means. This is the year I pray that will change, for in this year I want to show you exactly who the poor are, how they got poor and what it is God wants us to do with them and for them. You will be surprised that God does not want us to give them handouts. No, God wants us to give them a chance to survive on their own. It is imperative that we Christians learn how to do that because the United States Government is not our solution. We cannot and should not expect a government to take care of the poor. The only way they know how to do that is to create a greater dependency. It is up to us, the Church of God, to be active, vocal and responsive to the needs of this country and world. It is up to us, because every one of us who has accepted Jesus as our Savior has been anointed with the same ministry of Jesus. So that you don’t lose sight of what that ministry is, cut out and tape today’s verse to your bathroom mirror. Each morning look at it and then ask yourself, “Am I looking more like Christ today or less?”

When did Jesus give us this ministry?

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of    the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
Mathew 28: 18-20 (Revised Standard)

When He commissioned us!

Today Jesus, I just pray that all who are reading this will truly understand that the commission You gave to us is not just one where we share who You are but where we behave as You did and do what You command. This is what I pray for us, in Your Holy and Anointed Name, Jesus.

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