Passage: Luke 4:14-21
- Mission impossible trailer (You can find it on YouTube)
Start the talk by showing the Mission Impossible clip.
Who here has seen any of the Mission Impossible films?
The films are based on the exploits of the main character, Ethan Hawke, who takes his team on missions that the rest of us would probably feel were impossible.
In today’s passage Jesus announces for the first time what his mission is. and it’s a mission that even Ethan Hawke would struggle to complete.
Read the passage.
So what exactly is Jesus’ mission all about?
Firstly it sounds like a big challenge: bringing good news to the poor, release for captives, sight for the blind, freedom for the oppressed seem like huge tasks. But the thing that makes it all the more difficult is that Jesus says that he is the only one who can complete it.
The original Greek text makes this absolutely clear:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because to bring good news to the poor he has anointed me;
to proclaim release to the captives he has sent me’.
The last word in each sentence drives it home, me, me, me.
And that carried on throughout Jesus’ teaching:
I am the bread of life, if you are hungry come to me
I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life
I am the light of the world
If you have seen me you have seen God
The world will be judged by me and will be judged on the basis of how it has responded to me.
To our modern ears, and to the people who were listening to Jesus at the time this can sound seriously offensive. In fact, as we’ll see next week, the people who heard Jesus message were so offended that they tried to kill him.
Our world would prefer a Messiah who just offered a way to be good. Another one to add to the religious collection. Another path up the mountain to join all the others. A lifestyle choice, an alternative spiritual experience. Like a delicious plate of spiritual food to add to buffet of religions and spiritualities.
But he doesn’t. He is unique and exclusive.
The saviour is Jesus. This mission is all about Jesus. The focus is on Jesus. We proclaim Jesus, we are baptised into Jesus, we worship Jesus, we live for Jesus and if needed we will die for Jesus the one who lived for us and died for us.
The second important thing about this mission is the people that it is for. It isn’t for the rich or successful but for those who are broken, those who have nothing.
Jesus came for the poor. His good news is good news for the poor. The healing he brings is for the broken and the blind. The freedom he offers is for the captive and the oppressed.
It’s clear from the prophecy Jesus quoted and from Jesus later words that he definitely meant those who were physically poor or blind or in prison. And he also meant those who realised they were poor in spirit or spiritually blind or spiritual prisoners. Those who realise they need a saviour.
Is this gospel good news for us? Is this Messiah a saviour for us?
But only when we are willing to acknowledge that we are the poor, captives, blind, oppressed.
If we think we are not sick, he can’t be our doctor.
If we think we are not poor he does not have good news for us.
That is why it is hard for the rich, the comfortable, the whole to enter the Kingdom of God
But when we do, he brings good news to us in our poverty, release to us in our captivity, healing for our blindness, freedom for me and for you from our oppression.
And more than that. As we receive good news, and sight and freedom and he says to us freely you have received, freely give. I will pour out my Spirit on you.
And then this becomes our mission statement. It definitely feels daunting, this huge and difficult mission can feel totally beyond us but there is good news:
The Spirit of the Lord is on us to do those things.
Key Point: When we admit our own need for him Jesus sends us to the poor and the broken and the prisoner and the oppressed. That was his his mission and it becomes our mission statement too – if we choose to accept it.
This talk was followed by the stations: