Jesus’ articulation of his mission on earth is best expressed in his inaugural address delivered in his hometown synagogue. Again, he identifies with the poor.
‘When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
‘And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”’ (Luke 4:16‐21 New Revised Standard Version).
Early in his ministry, Jesus returned home to Nazareth. Rumours were spreading about his teaching and miraculous powers. He was invited to speak at the local synagogue where he had worshipped as a child. Jesus’ audience that morning was filled with sceptics. ‘What is Mary and Joseph’s son doing now? Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’
Sensing a special moment, Jesus took the occasion to lay out his mission. He read the Hebrew text from the revered prophet Isaiah (61:1‐2). And when he finished, Jesus rolled up the scroll and essentially said, ‘Let me tell you what this means’.
Jesus and Justice
What is our mission?
Not what congregation we worship with, not what group we serve with, not what training we have or what job is ours; all of these and more are vehicles through which we may work out our mission, but what is my mission, your mission?
Jesus was very clear on what he was about and, as a result, used all opportunities and situations to further his mission. He was not dependent on another to establish a framework through which he could work out his mission, but instead he was aware, available, ready and committed to mission.
What is your mission?
Lord, may your Spirit be upon me to bring good news to the poor.
Lord, please give me a sense of mission that is worthy of you and that I can purposely action. Give me insight, wisdom and energy to fulfil the mission you guide me to, and faith and trust to work with you and for you and the people I meet. Lord, where I lose hope or begin to fear, help me to remember that you gave the mission and you are with me at all times. I may sometimes feel lonely, but I will never be alone. God, please give me determination and let me find partners with whom to share my mission. Lord, I choose not to be a receiver only of your forgiveness, grace, mercy and love, but also a missioner who serves through love with grace so that all people may know your forgiveness and mercy.
Take time for reflection:
Lord: What do you require of me? What is or will be my mission?
Lord: What insight or vision do you choose to give me concerning that mission?
Lord: Lead me to obedience and trust so that I may fulfil the mission you have given to me.
Thought: Take time to consciously sit in the presence of God and allow him to impact your thinking and planning. Often we respond to the great need of our age and ask God to bless the activity, but here is an opportunity to ask God to ‘direct our paths’ and move to mission.
Lord, we, your Church, engage in mission. We seek to serve you with our tithes and offerings and our time and talents. We ask that those actions will not become an end in themselves, but rather we will do all those things out of a sense of love and compassion, expressed through mission. Lord, it is not enough to be a passive actor in a group achieving good things. Help each member of our congregation to be active in mission, seeking your direction to become as involved as they are able and being a people of prayer who love and care for those they serve.
WHEN: Eight‐year‐olds cannot read; families cannot drink water without getting sick; HIV‐positive women cannot protect their newborn babies; funerals displace preventable deaths,
WHEN: Children go to bed hungry seven nights a week; parents bury their children because they died of malaria; women, young girls and boys are exploited as sex slaves; workers labour for scandalous wages to fashion designer clothes,
WHEN: The earth is abused without regard for future generations; skin colour and social status padlock doors of opportunity; the healthy and educated cannot use their strengths to work,
WHEN: The righteous and holy disregard the impoverished and unclean; God’s compassion is closeted in sanctuaries and temples; the strong and privileged disregard the weak and the oppressed.
THEN: Injustice rules; countless lives are squandered; our shared humanity is disgraced; and darkness prevails.
THEN: We are part of the solution. Lord, grant us vision and purpose expressed through mission.
Lord, I choose to be a person of mission and purpose! Lead me…