I have been doing a lot of thinking (meditating) on Luke 4:18 – 19
“God’s Spirit is on me; he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind. To set the burdened and battered free, to announce, “This is God’s year to act!” (The Message)
I believe this was Jesus’ mission statement. I have had this conviction for a long time but I come to it with a renewed sense of passion. The context for these words of Jesus is that He has been baptized as a symbol of death to self and the self-willed life and a rising to a life of obedience to the Father empowered by the Holy Spirit. To me this is a preview of Gethsemane when Jesus reaffirms his ‘obedience unto death’ (Philippians 2: 8). Jesus invites me ‘to take up my cross and follow him’, so this mission statement must be mine, as well.
Having been thus baptized Jesus is anointed with the Holy Spirit and God acknowledges Him as His beloved Son with whom He is well pleased. Immediately this anointing is put to the test, not for the last time, and the Anointed One (Messiah) returns victorious from the Desert of Temptation. He proceeds to His local synagogue and reads the above passage explaining that the anointing He has received is for this purpose, that these words are fulfilled in Him that day.
I am drawn to the last sentence of this statement “This is God’s year to act!” God is on the move. Most translations say “the year of the Lord’s favour”, which shows me that we are currently in the time when God is on our side. He is in our corner. It is not His will that any should perish. This last line summarises the preceding lines about the poor, captive, blind and oppressed, for the good news to each category is that God is actively on our side.
Too often we can complicate the good news and fill it with all sorts of religious content but the simple good news is that Jesus has demonstrated that God is actively on our side. In Romans 8:31 Paul writes “With God on our side like this, how can we lose?” (The Message). So the good news to all ‘the losers’: the poor, the prisoner, the blind, burdened and battered, is that God is on our side and so we are not losers at all. The great danger is to think, in our own self-sufficiency, that we are okay without the active intervention of God, and so miss out on the active favour of God.
For many in the liturgical church we approach “Christ the King Sunday” which reminds us that our chief allegiance is to Jesus before nation, family, or race. We show this allegiance only when we follow in His way. “Christ also suffered for us leaving us an example that we should walk in His way.” (1 Peter 2:21)
I want to spend my life sharing and living this simply good news. It is at once simple and yet impossible apart from the baptism into His death and the anointing of the Holy Spirit for life in Jesus.