73. The Christian Disciple and Jesus’ Mission
Luke writes in Luke 4v42-44: “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.”
Jesus’ public ministry on earth has begun! These verses at the end of Luke 4 tell us that His mission is to preach God’s Kingdom. A reluctant John the Baptist baptized him and the crowds heard God the Father speaking to Him. He underwent temptations by the arch-seducer, satan and emerged victorious from that ordeal. Now Jesus, led by the Holy Spirit, has returned home to Galilee (Luke 4v14).
1. Jesus at home (Luke 4v14-30)
Jesus is back in home territory and because of the power of His teaching, He is becoming known as a great teacher (Luke 4v15). Jesus spent some time in Galilee, become known and arousing the interest, curiosity and excitement of people.
a. Worshipping (Luke 4v14-18) – It was Jesus’ habit to attend public worship wherever he was.
A typical synagogue service
· Opened with a prayer for God’s blessing
· Traditional Hebrew confession of faith (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21)
· Prayer and readings from the Law and the Prophets
· Brief sermon given by one of the men or a visiting rabbi (Acts 13:14-16)
· Benediction or prayer
Because of His growing renown as a teacher, it is no surprise that he should be asked to read the Scripture and give a short teaching session regarding it. Here in Nazareth, Jesus declared that the day for demonstrating God’s salvation had arrived and the day the prophets looked forward to, was going to be fulfilled in Jesus Himself (Luke 4v20). He was the Servant Isaiah had talked about long ago (Isaiah 61v1-2). His ministry was divinely directed; it was a ministry of hope for all people and a ministry to free the spiritually oppressed (Luke 4v18).
Acceptable Year of the Lord (Luke 4:19)
When Jesus said in Luke 4v19 “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour”, Jesus was referring to the “Year of Jubilee” (Leviticus 25). Every fiftieth year, this special year was the balancing of the economic system.
· Slaves were set free and returned to their families
· Property that was sold back to the original owners
· All debts were cancelled
· Lands lay bare to rest and rejoice in the Lord
The local reaction was at first one of astonishment (Luke 4v22) and telling each other he was the son of Joseph! But Jesus was not the son of Joseph, but rather the Son of God, the new Adam and the founder of a new humanity as he goes on to explain.
b. Rejected (Luke 4:20-30)
They saw Him as the son of Joseph. Admiration turned to anger, because Jesus began to remind them of God’s goodness to the Gentiles.
· The prophet Elijah bypassed all the Jewish widows and helped a Gentile widow in Sidon (1 Kings 17:8-16)
· Elisha healed a Gentile leper from Syria (2 Kings 5:1-15)
Whilst those in Nazareth could only see Jesus in the local setting, He told them His mission was for all Israel! And if Israel rejected this message of Good News, then the Gentiles would be blessed by it (Luke 4v25-27). Upon hearing this, the astonished admiration turned to furious anger (Luke 4v28-30)! Salvation is no longer restricted to Israel but for every child of Adam – every human. Jesus’ mission was not to be Israel’s saviour but the world’s saviour.
When Jesus quoted the proverb “no prophet is accepted in his hometown”, he revealed his knowledge of Old Testament history. He knew that God’s messengers often were rejected, and even as God’s Son, he was rejected as well.
2. Jesus away from home (Luke 4v31-44)
Now Jesus walked through the rioting mob and went to Capernaum and here he engaged in public ministry:
a. Preaching (Luke 4v31-32) – Jesus sets up headquarters in Capernaum (Matthew 4:13-16) and started teaching in the Synagogue. People were astonished that He taught with such authority.
b. Rebuking (Luke 4v33-37, 41) – Our Lord did not want the demons to bear witness to Himself and His identity (Luke 4:34,41). Again people were astonished at Jesus power and authority.
c. Healing (Luke 4v:39-40) – People bought their sick and asked Jesus to help them.
d. Praying (Luke 4v42-44) – He was up early the next morning to pray (Mark 1:35). It was in prayer that He found his strength and power for service, and so must we.
During this period:
· No new teaching – He has God’s authority to do what He is doing – preaching healing and releasing.
· God desires humility – Jesus is looking for people to acknowledge their spiritual blindness and poverty, so that Jesus may liberate them.
· God’s Word is important – In the previous verses, Jesus counters the devil by using God’s Word, and he continues to do this throughout His ministry. He teaches and preaches in the synagogues (Luke 4v32, 44); rebukes demons (Luke 4v35, 41) and heals diseases (Luke 4v39) all with the authority of His word.
Jesus’ mission was to be the saviour of the world as God’s Son (John 3v16) and the Servant of the Lord. His mission was to give a message of hope for the spiritually poor and spiritually oppressed people. People not only in his hometown, nor only in Israel, but rather for the whole world. People have two choices when faced with this fact: accept or reject. There is no other option. That is why as Christian Disciples we are to be actively engaged in evangelism, to tell people of this news about Jesus Christ.
For more to think about please do read Luke 4v1-44. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.
Q1. How does knowing Jesus’ mission help me in my life as a Christian Disciple?
Q2. Where does the authority for my ministry come from?
Q3. What encouragement can I take from Jesus’ behaviour to those who rejected His message?
As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.