We are just a few days away from celebrating Thanksgiving and many will be busy preparing for this special occasion. The mission for many will be to prepare a delicious meal and to enjoy the family and friends gathering around the dinner table. Jesus also had a mission. On one of his visits to his home town he had the rear opportunity to teach in the synagogue, where, no doubt he had spent a great deal of time as a boy and young adult. The text he chose that day was from the writings of the prophet Isaiah, it tells us a great deal about the mission of Jesus. I am referring to Luke 4:14-30 which elaborates on his Nazareth visit. Allow me to highlight four specific truths from verse 18 that informs us of the mission of Jesus.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind. To set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.(Luke 4:18; Isa.61 NASB)
The mission of Jesus was both proclaimed and enacted. Jesus’ ministry was a holistic ministry. He proclaimed the truth of the gospel that was transformative in the lives of his hearers, but he also touched lepers and made them clean, exorcised demons from the possessed, fed the hungry, healed diseases and raised the dead. In other words, the mission of Jesus was operative both with words and with works.
The mission of Jesus was both spiritual and physical. He was involved in redemptive activity that released people from spiritual bondage as well as physical bondage. Prisoners were set free, the blind received sight.
The mission of Jesus was both for the people of Israel and for the nations. When he encountered unbelief in his home town of Nazareth on this particular visit, he made use of two illustrations from the Old Testament (See verses 26 and 27) to show that non-covenantal people (The woman of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian) could experience God’s gracious help in spite of their spiritual status. The Great Commission recorded in Matthew 28:19-20 and to some degree in Acts 1:8, gives a clear indication of the desire of Jesus to extend his mission to all nations.
The mission of Jesus was both present and eschatological. It incorporated such themes as redemption and restoration which was available immediately and will be fully realized at the consummation at his return. He spoke of the ‘year of jubilee’ which is clearly eschatological. He will make right all injustices, this, in fact will be the ultimate redemption of all things, humankind as well as creation. (See Rom. 8:21-23) For us today the eschatological must provide the impetus to embrace the mission of Jesus for this present generation. Jesus’ mission is far from over; it is passed on to his church to continue his mission. We are given the mandate and also the equipment of the anointing Spirit to carry on the mission of Jesus. What a privilege! What a partnership!