I have been looking closely at a text all week. Luke 4:14-21:
14Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18″The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[a]
20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
After a quick reading, this little text seems odd and unusual. Jesus stands up, reads a passage, and sits down. Odd.
But after I read it a little closer, I was amazed at the authority and power that is hidden among the words on the pages of my bible. I noticed 3 things, after I lived with this passage for a few days.
1> Jesus exudes authority. At the very onset of his ministry, he stands up in the synagogue (and I might add the text seems to insinuate that he wasn’t invited to preach that day) and preaches about, well… him. He preaches that he is the annointed one. But his power isn’t used to establish control for himself or to bring dignity to himself among community members. Instead he is prepared to use power in a way the world isn’t used to – for unselfish reasons. Jesus has come in authority to proclaim “favor” to those who are altogether unfavored.
2> Jesus has come to meet needs. The poor, the imprisoned, the blind, the unfavored. That is Jesus’ short list for ministry. That is his focus – to meet the needs of his people. If you are poor and it is resources you need, then it is resources he will provide. If you are in chains to anything, he has come to proclaim freedom. If you are blind and lost, he has vision, sight, clarity, and purpose. If you are without favor in this harsh world, he brings deep love. He will meet your needs, both superficial and spiritual.
3> The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.
I come away with three applications for myself that I think we can all share in.
1> I have access to Jesus’ power. He has not left us alone, but has given us His Advocate – the Spirit(John 14:16). As Tolstoy would say, “The Kingdom of God is Within You” and we have access to this authority and power. However, we must be cautious in our use of this power, that we do not set ourselves up as gods. We must always call on this Spiritual Power to serve others and never for “this world” benefits.
2> When our mission and purpose seem fuzzy and disconnected from God, we must return to service. Sometimes I feel out of focus, and out of touch with what I live for. I must remember that I live to serve God, and to serve others. I live to meet needs. Spiritual needs, physical needs, financial needs, emotional needs, psychological needs, etc. I am here to meet needs.
3> And when we retire from our service on earth, our end is not self honor or glory. We want no images set up of ourselves, no collects of our own great deeds and righteousness, for we know that it was never us anyway – rather it was the “Power at work within us” that accomplished all these things. So our end game is that the eyes of everyone we serve be “fastened on Him.”