We pick the story of Jesus in Luke 4:31 right after he has announced his mission statement to the people of Nazareth:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Lk 4:18-19)
This statement almost got Jesus killed as he left out the parts of Isaiah 61 that called for judgment against the Gentiles. Instead, Jesus offered mercy and grace to all the ‘wrong’ people.
Having been kicked out of Nazareth, Jesus goes to Capernaum, which is located on the northwest shores of the Sea of Galilee. It is there that Jesus sets up his ‘home base’ to reach the nation.
One of the first things that Jesus does after reaching Capernaum is to go into the local synagogue and starts teaching. The people become “amazed” as Jesus teaches with authority of the Holy Father instead of simply repeating words taught to him by this person or another. Think about it – Jesus didn’t have a seminary degree or any “formal” education – but he did have the Holy Spirit!
Amazingly enough, we, as followers of Jesus, have the same Holy Spirit dwelling inside us. Furthermore, Jesus told us that it would be the Holy Spirit that would “guide [us] into all truth” (John 16:13). Practically this means that we must rely on the Holy Spirit for all that we teach – regardless of our intellect, degrees, or lack thereof. No one who follows Jesus has any excuse for not teaching and sharing the Good News of Jesus. We all simply say what the Father is telling us to say at that moment via the power and authority of the Holy Spirit and the Name of Jesus.
We also have to back up our words with actions. In returning to the Gospel of Luke we see Jesus casting out demons in the synagogue right after he teaches. Furthermore, he then goes into St. Peter’s home and heals his mother-in-law , then a whole bunch of folks later that night.
The Words of Jesus were backed up by the Deeds of Jesus. The words and works. One without the other is worthless!!
Earning The Right To Talk
My generation has seen too many broken promises from too many people. If you want to talk to us, you have earned that right – otherwise we won’t listen. This is true for our area as they have been burned over with empty promises of ‘salvation’, ‘healings’ or ‘help’. We can’t go around preaching the gospel handing out tracks and telling folks that they are sinners. They know that – look at their homes, their lives…they know there is a problem better than you know it.
We are to do what Jesus did – we are to serve them (Mt 20:28). We are to love them and welcome them. We are to throw them parties without any goals or agenda beyond saying “we love you and you are valuable. You are the guest of honor.”
Love is powerful. Knowing that you are valuable is powerful.
Never underestimate this power. Not for a moment think that this is weak – for I guarantee you that welcoming, loving, befriending, someone who is different than you is a ton harder than simply telling them that they need to shape up and stop doing XYZ.
Furthermore, it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict people and draw them to Jesus:
“When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” –John 16:8-11
Our job is the same one that Jesus gave to the 12 and to the 72:
“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give…. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” –Jesus, Mt 10:7-8, 22:37-39
If I might make a suggestion: Let us do our job and let the Holy Spirit do His job!
One amazing thing that the Lord showed me about this passage was the location in which Jesus preached the Good News and set free the oppressed. He did it in the synagogue, in the homes of the people and on the streets.
So often we get focused on one area and one area only. Either we stay in the ‘church building’ (i.e. the synagogue) or we place all of our efforts into going out into the streets…. Yet if we are to do what Jesus we must preach the same message and do the same deeds in all locations.
We need the synagogues – we need to continue to meet together for fellowship, for the strengthening of the body – for worship of Jesus. This is what Sunday morning is for – this is why we gather. We gather to give praise to God – listen up as this is important – Sunday morning worship is not about us. It is not about what we get out of it. It is not about whether or not we like the songs or the style or the length. It is about God!
I’m sure some of the people of God did not like the blood sacrifices the priest did each day…but it wasn’t about them. I was about God. It is as Emily said this morning during worship, “What sacrifices are you bringing to God?”
Furthermore, we need to have times to regroup and to learn about Jesus. This is why Jesus would take the 12 off alone, away from the crowds. To teach them and to debrief.
Yet, Jesus and the 12 did not stay hidden forever. They came back down and hung out with the people. They went to parties with the drunks, the tax collectors, and prostitutes as well as Bible teachers, priests, and other religious leaders. Jesus hung out with everyone regardless of social standing or economic income.
I guarantee you that if Jesus was here today; most of the folks in churches across this nation would dismiss him as a heretic or at least, a wishy-washy believer. Why? Because most of them are concerned about their reputation among themselves instead of having a heart to “proclaim good news to the poor….to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Lk 4:18-19)