“We’re on a Mission from God”
November 18, 2011 1 Comment
This blog post was adapted from a sermon that I gave at the Harvard Avenue Student Ministry youth group on Wednesday, November 16, 2011. To see tweets related to this sermon from students in the audience, click here.
Principle Passage: Luke 4:14-30
Premise: Jesus’ mission from God is our mission from God.
After coming out of the wilderness where he was tempted for 40 days without food, Jesus begins His earthly ministry. He’s been baptized and tempted, now it’s time for Him to reveal and fulfill His mission. However, the mission didn’t stop with Jesus. We have been called to the same mission as Christians. As the Blues Brothers put it, “we’re on a mission from God.” There are three Ps necessary to complete our mission that we see in this passage from Luke’s Gospel: Prepare, Proclaim, and Persevere.
Prepare (v. 14-16)
Be led by the Spirit
From the outset, Jesus was a Spirit-led man who centered His life and ministry on the Word of God. Jesus became very popular with the people in the area of Galilee and people began to travel long distances to hear him speak in the synagogues on the Sabbath.
Study the Word
One Saturday, Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth to speak. The people of this small town (two thousand at most) had seen Jesus grow up. It was very unusual for someone from such a small town to be as educated as Jesus was, not to mention being recognized as a top-tier rabbi. In order to get to this point, he had to “grow in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52) Many believers today discount the importance of studying the Word; however, if we want to be more like Christ, we have to develop this desire to learn.
Get involved in the Church
Not only did Jesus have a strong desire to learn and teach the Scripture, he was committed to the gathering of God’s people. It “was his custom” to go to synagogue to fellowship and invest in the equivalent of the Old Testament church. Like I said earlier, Nazareth was a small town. Jesus probably heard quite a few bad sermons and sub-par teachers. Did that stop him from going and contributing? Not at all. He was humble enough to keep going in order to be with God’s people and hear God’s Word preached. Even in “bad” sermons, truth can still be found.
There are some who love God and love God’s people and love being with God’s people and are willing to regularly attend church and sit under the preaching of God’s Word, willing to study for themselves like Jesus did, willing to be on mission as the church with God’s people. But we also have this consumer culture where people just come and go and take and don’t give and complain and don’t help. Some even just stop going altogether. This is a major problem in the Church today. As Tim Keller tweeted recently, “The church is often like a football stadium where 22 people need a rest and thousands of people need exercise.”
But what is the Church? It’s Christ’s bride: a body made up of imperfect sinners, saved by grace, growing together in sanctification under the preaching of the Word in Christian community. It was his regular custom. You need to be in church. You need to be under the preaching of God’s Word. You need to be meeting with God’s people.
Proclaim (v. 17-21)
The Scripture passage that Jesus reads from is Isaiah 61:1-2, part of a section of Isaiah talking about the Suffering Servant: one who God would send to suffer, die and rise in our place to save God’s people from their sins and bring them back into right relationship with God. This passage of Scripture sets the tone for the rest of Jesus’ ministry and Luke’s gospel. It is his mission statement.
Jesus’ mission from His Father, empowered by the Holy Spirit has 5 elements:
- Proclaim good news to the poor– the poor here is speaking of more than material lack but spiritual poverty. (Matt 5:3)
- Proclaim liberty to the captives– all of humanity is born in bondage to sin. (Rom 5:15-23) Only Jesus can break our bonds to sin and set us free to live for Him.
- Proclaim recovering of sight to the blind– before the Holy Spirit convicts of our sin and opens our eyes, we are blind to the things of God (2 Cor 4:3-6)
- Set at liberty the oppressed- Not only does Jesus set us free from sin, he frees us from the burden of religious legalism and gives us a new mission (Matt 11:28-30)
- Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor– Jesus is both Savior and prophet. The ‘year of the Lord’s favor’ refers to the Jewish Year of Jubilee in which slaves were freed and ancestral land was returned to the Israelites and was celebrated ever 50 years. Jesus’ first coming is the beginning of the time when God will restore all who believe to Himself through salvation. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:2,”Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
However, if you look at the original text that Jesus quotes in Isaiah 61:1-2, there is more of the verse that Jesus leaves off: “and the day of vengeance of our God.” Jesus leaves this off intentionally, even though His audience in the synagogue would know how the verse ended. Why? His first coming is to proclaim the time of salvation; his second coming will be the time of judgment mentioned in the second part of the verse. At the end of the interval of patience that we are currently in, 2 Thessalonians 1:7–8 says that “the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As I said earlier, this mission doesn’t stop with Jesus, but continues on through the Church today until His second coming. Jesus’ mission is also our mission for two reasons:
- As the Father sent the Son, so the Son sends us- God sent Jesus on a mission of salvation and redemption and Jesus has done the same for us. He repeatedly tells His disciples that they are to continue His work as workers in the field, going into all the world making more disciples. We are to suffer for the sake of our mission just as He did.
- The Church is the Body of Christ- since Jesus is now in heaven, the church is His visible representative here on Earth. The Church, the Bride of Christ, has been so identified with Christ that He refers to it as His body. Just as man and woman become one flesh, so Christ and His church are one flesh (Eph 1:22-23).
Persevere (v. 22-30)
Stand for Truth
Jesus’ message was well-received at first by His audience, but they ultimately were angered by it after He exposed their heart attitude. The two Old Testament examples He shares expose Israel’s reputation for rejecting its own prophets, leading God to send other people groups, including Gentiles, who accepted their message.
Don’t fear Suffering
This is just the first of many times that Jesus’ mission will face opposition, as it continues to do today. Despite the opposition, God provided a way of escape for Jesus because His time had not yet come.
Endure with Joy
So, Christian, be encouraged by this: we are called to continue Jesus’ mission of salvation and proclaiming the Lord’s favor. Though we will suffer and face opposition, even from within our own families and communities, the Lord will sustain us until He calls us home. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:1-2)
As a Christian, you have been given a new mission focused not on yourself, but on the Gospel. Do you live like it? Prepare. Proclaim. Persevere.
Learn It. Love It. Live It.