“He has sent me to proclaim… recovery of sight for the blind” Luke 4.18
It is easy to suggest this verse refers simply to a renewal of an inner vision, but even a cursory reading of the Gospels reveals a picture of Jesus who spent much time healing the physically ill – individuals, groups and sometimes whole crowds. It is no surprise to discover that this is something he said at the start of his ministry that he would do.
It is a mistake to limit Jesus’ promise of physical healing to what we might think of as the more formal healing ministry of the church. Jesus uses human skills and agencies to bring about his purposes, as well as supernatural means. His statement gives us real hope. The Bible never says Jesus told the sick to rejoice in their illnesses. He didn’t seem to make a connection between the suffering that was inevitable and the sickness he saw in the people to whom he ministered. His words and actions gave hope.
If you are in mental, physical or spiritual pain, you can call out to Jesus with confidence, knowing he is not rejoicing in your pain or delighting in your suffering. Call out in the certainty that it is good and proper to call out to him for healing.
“He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners” Luke 4.18
Without going into the intricacies of miscarriages of justice, prisoners are usually prisoners because they have done something wrong. In some way they are to blame for the situation in which they find themselves. The temptation is for us to think, ‘You’ve made your bed, now lie on it!’
The attitude of Jesus could not be more different. Freedom for the prisoners is a startling revelation of his mission. We might think this is unjust: why should people find freedom from the consequences of their actions when they deserve what they are going through? How can Jesus be so good to those who do not deserve it? We will probably begin to change our attitude when we find that Jesus applied this principle across the board – even to us.
This is what forgiveness is about. It means we are not treated as our sins deserve, and neither is anyone else. The foulest of sinners is offered forgiveness, and so are we. What he does for others is what he offers to us. It’s not so much, ‘You’ve made your bed now lie on it,’ but rather, ‘Take up your bed and walk!’
Is there something from your past making you feel like a prisoner? Jesus’ vision for you is freedom, and the way you can discover this is by beginning to believe and accept that it is for you. You really are forgiven.
“…he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.”
What is poverty? We may look at people who struggle to make a living in a third world slum area or whose lives are being destroyed by failing seasonal rains, and in comparison we may be embarrassed to use the word ‘poor’. However, if poverty is about being unable to meet our own needs, then there are areas in which we may admit to being poor. It may be that you are in material need, or perhaps you feel you have no control over sickness, oppression, memories of the past, or a host of other things. As you think about poverty in this way, the phrase ‘good news to the poor’ becomes a foretaste of the other things Jesus went on to speak about in the passage from Isaiah 61.
The anointing on Jesus was to bring good news to the poor, to tell them that although they were lacking in some way, their need was not the bottom line. Whatever your need, Jesus is the good news. He is your Messiah, provider, healer, strengthener and deliverer.
Take a moment to ask yourself where Jesus is for you right now, and as you find his presence be honest with him about your need at this time. Where is your poverty? What is it you are unable to do for yourself? Speak to him and listen out for his reply – that picture, Bible verse or spontaneous thought which comes into your mind – and in this way find the Messiah who has come to bring good news to the poor – to you.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me” Luke 4.18
There is a landmark moment in the ministry of Jesus which is described by Luke in chapter 4 of his Gospel. At the beginning of his ministry Jesus went into a synagogue and found the reading he wanted to use as the basis for his talk. The passage he chose came from Isaiah 61 and Luke records the reading for us along with snippets of the talk Jesus gave. Perhaps the most powerful words are those Jesus used to begin his talk: “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
In these words Jesus seemed to be saying that this reading is what would mark out his ministry and set the scene for what people could expect from him. The biggest challenge for us is that these words still apply. As you find the presence of Jesus, the one in whose presence you stand is the same Jesus who stood up in that synagogue in Luke 4. He still has the same mission, the same vision and the same heart.
As we spend time over the next few days pondering aspects of this vision which he revealed, try to find the excitement that this is the same Jesus who is with you constantly, and this message is still his heart for you.
“O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.” 2 Chronicles 20.6
When King Jehoshaphat offered these words of praise to God, it was not in the safe environment of a service; a vast army had come against him. His first instinct was to turn to God, and his prayer is beautiful. He does not dive straight into panicky prayers, but begins with worship.
Furthermore, he did not simply begin with worship because that seemed to be a good idea and what ought to be done at the beginning of prayer time. What his worship did was to set a marker that became a more fundamental truth than the immediate threat he faced.
You may not face armies coming against you, but you will probably face difficulties today, and you might be afraid or anxious. This is the time to worship.
Worship is choosing to proclaim the opposite of your fears, and to allow this truth to change you rather than let your fears overwhelm your life. This is what Jehoshaphat did. He saw an opposing army coming against him and he took his stand by proclaiming the power and might of the Lord. It would have been so easy to begin by proclaiming the power and might of the enemy, but that would probably have increased the scale of fear felt by everyone there. By proclaiming the opposite, the power and might of the Lord, faith was allowed to conquer fear and God responded by performing a miracle.
“…he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” Luke 6.35
The kindness of God is not something we often think about. We talk about God’s love, but this can be defined in all manner of ways, whereas to talk of the kindness of God is different.
The kindness of God is perfectly exemplified in Jesus, whose kindness was demonstrated in his ministry of going about doing good things – healing the sick, showing love and offering forgiveness – without first demanding a change in lifestyle.
The Bible tells us he hasn’t changed; Jesus is the same today (Hebrews 13.8). The one who lives in us, and to whom we call out, is kind. He cannot change who he is; kindness is his nature.
As you sit in his presence for a few moments today, it’s wonderful to think of him as loving, but also be aware you are sitting in the presence of kindness personified. It does not matter what you have been like, his desire is to be kind to you.
‘…God, who gives life to everything’ 1 Timothy 6.13
You probably have plans for the day ahead. In some areas it is quite easy to see how God could work, whereas in others it is more difficult to see what he might do. The natural tendency is to focus on moments you may be dreading, or which cause you anxiety, but this causes difficulties because you are looking at events from your perspective rather than from the possibility of what God could do.
This verse is so encouraging to take into the day ahead: ‘God, who gives life to everything.’ Why not let your plans run through your mind, and at each different event apply these words to it. In doing this, you are increasing your awareness of God’s power to work in every situation, as these words proclaim not only that God will be there, but also that he gives life to everything. If there is life, there is hope, and you can enter the hours ahead with joy and peace rather than fear.
Think about your plans for the day, and ask God to bring his life to each event.