He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“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 favour.”
Then 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. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Every time there is a general election in the U.K. the various parties begin by publishing their manifesto, their ideas, promises, their big plan for what they will do when they are elected. Here in Nazareth, the town where he grew up, and still at the beginning of his ministry it is as if Jesus is putting out his manifesto. It has been thirty years in preparation. That is thirty years of listening to God, looking around at the state of people’s lives, thirty years of conversations and studying the scriptures.
Now he is ready to go and this is:
His declaration of intent,
The statement of his goals,
The announcement of who he is and what he is all about,
This is his big idea,
The mission statement,
His Jesus plan.
The words he actually uses however are not of his own creation they are the five hundred year old words of Isaiah 61: 1-2. He makes them his own however by saying, ‘at last now is the time, I am the one, the Spirit is on me, I am anointed and this is what I am going to do’.
When we read his ‘what I am going to do list’ we can see it falling into two major zones of thought, almost as if his plan has got two major thrusts. One is all about addressing people’s immediate and physical needs, whilst the second idea responds to their eternal spiritual needs.
Jesus is going to reach out to the poor, release the captives, give sight to the blind and free the oppressed. At the same time he will bring good news and proclamation. He is going to touch their bodies and reach into their souls, give them help and hope.
Having read out Isaiah’s amazing prophetic words and promise, he calmly sits down, everyone’s eyes are on him and he says ‘today this scripture is fulfilled’. Wow, we have lift off!
Jesus makes the words of Isaiah his two pronged or twin zoned mission statement. Today, if we are serious about following him it should be ours too. The problem is, we find it very difficult to follow two different tracks at the same time. There have clearly been times in the church’s history where it has been all proclamation and very little helping of the poor. In today’s church we seem to have got it the other way round, lots of helping the poor, getting involved in social community issues and raising grants but not much proclamation of the Good News. Jesus did both and made them part of the one whole mission.
Here then is a big question for us all. Looking at our own individual mission and that of our church have we got a well-balanced ‘holistic’ mission in the way Jesus had? Are we becoming like him or are we doing it our way?
Interestingly, Jesus retained all of Isaiah’s words except for one about ‘proclaiming the day of God’s vengeance’. It looks as though Jesus planned to be more into forgiveness than judgement.
Help me to do it your way.
To share your words,
And to show your works.
To offer good deeds,
And to proclaim Good News.
To bring help,
And to offer hope.
That my world might be transformed by your love.