Read Luke 4:14-30.
Christ could have chosen any one of a thousand other Bible passages to define His purpose. But He didn’t. He chose an obscure passage from Isaiah.
We are told He was visiting His hometown, Nazareth and everyone there was wondering what this famous preacher, who had grown up in their midst, would say. But Jesus didn’t launch into an hour long soliloquy, He made His way to the front, grabbed the large scroll of Isaiah, opened it and read: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor… (Isaiah 61:1-2
How profound that of all the ways Christ could have used the Old Testament to announce that He was the Messiah, He chose these words. He chose to describe Himself as the one who comforts and heals and mends the brokenhearted, the poor, and those who are bound in captivity. This is who our Lord chooses to identify with. These are who Jesus desires to comfort. They are His sheep. He is their shepherd.
It makes me think back to something I once saw on the evening news (one of those feel-good stories they feature at the very end of a long broad cast that usually seems like nothing but bad news). It was the story about a woman who had fifteen children and was asked by the interviewer, “With so many kids, how do you love them all the same?”
She smiled and gave an answer that he wasn’t expecting, “I don’t love them all the same.”
Taken aback, the interviewer awkwardly asked, “Well…which one do you love the most?”
She gave a thoughtful smile and answered softly, “The one who is hurting the most, the one who feels the most loneliness, the one who is brokenhearted…that’s the one I love the most.”
And that is apparently our Lord’s philosophy too!
Thoughts to Ponder:
We are followers of Jesus, right? So, if you were literally to follow Jesus around today, talking to everyone He talks to and pausing to at every counter, watercooler and desk that the Lord might pause at, what kinds of conversations might you overhear? For Jesus, a simple “hello” was never just a simple “hello.” He never seemed to engage in pleasantries. When He met someone, He had a purpose for each word.
How might our approach change, too, if we had Jesus with us when we walked into the office first thing in the morning and greeted people? Normally, we just say, “Good morning! How are you?” And then we keep walking barley waiting for a reply. Some folks might respond with a cheery “Hey, I’m great!” But there are just as many responses that are barely audible. If we took time to really register their tone and their demeanor, we’d quickly realize that there was more going on under the surface; but most of the time we just walk right by assuming that things are fine.
However, I bet if Jesus was with us, He wouldn’t keep walking. I bet He would stick around to find out more. And as you read the Gospels you discover that He had a lot of great conversations for this reason. (John 4:1-45 is a great example).
It’s a shame the small town people of Nazareth couldn’t appreciate this about Jesus. Let’ s not make the same mistake. Let’s be a little more open to the needs of others. Let’s be a little more like Jesus today.
Some thoughts for prayer:
Remember that old prayer of the Church?
O God, you have called Your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love supporting us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lord Jesus, give me wisdom to identify the things that matter most today, especially those things that are the biggest blessings that You have given: family, home, church.
Lord, show me Your hand at work in my life and in the world around me. Give me strength to make the changes I need most to be faithful to You.
In Jesus name. Amen.