Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lenten Devotional: Day Six, Tuesday Feb. 12th "Jesus Vision Statement"

Gospel Reading: Luke 4-6:11
Devotional Emphasis: Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.”

After yesterday’s reading of Mark 1-3, you will notice that today’s reading covers most of the same material. Luke adds the story of Jesus preaching in his hometown and he doesn’t name the disciples at the point in the gospel. Jesus still cast out some demons and heals the paralytic, causing his fame to spread. Jesus also gets into trouble for eating with sinners and tax collectors and healing on the Sabbath. His disciples refuse to fast.

The story of Jesus preaching in his hometown marks one of the most important stories in Luke’s gospel. Jesus gets up and reads a scroll which contains Isaiah 61:1-2, which the prophet says he has been anointed to preach good news to the poor, proclaim release to the prisoners, give sight to the blind, release the oppressed, and proclaim the year of Jubilee. I have a feeling that this was Jesus' motto which framed his ministry. It was his vision statement. He then makes the statement that he himself will fulfill these words. This is big claim. The people listening in want evidenced that Jesus can do these things and that he is who he says he is. When Jesus refuses and then tells them that he will do these things for other people instead, they get mad and want to through him off a cliff.

I have not seen a church today that has threatened to through the preacher off a cliff, but I am sure that some churches have been just as selfish as this group listening to Jesus. It is hard for us to understand sometimes that God cares for people other than ourselves. We want God to be “for us” and “against them.” When Jesus told his “home church” that God was for “us and them” they did not like that. As the church today, we have to remember that God sent Jesus to bring good news to the poor. Instead of being selfish and keeping Jesus to ourselves, how about we share Jesus with the world. Instead of focusing on what it best for our individual churches maybe we can think about how to best reach those who are oppressed, the prisoners, and the blind. Let’s proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor for all those who suffer.

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