Weekly Bible Devotional
“Change the World: Follow Jesus”
September 8, 2019
Scripture for Sunday: Luke 4:18-19
“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 favor.”
Notes on The Text:
We will explore this week what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The best place to start is with Jesus’ own vision for his life’s work. In our Gospel reading for this week, we look at what Jesus was passionate about. Even though he was a teacher and a healer, his passion was that of fulfilling God’s dream for justice in the world. In Luke 4 we hear Jesus proclaiming his purpose and mission using the words of the prophet Isaiah.
According to the Gospel of Luke, this was the speech which Jesus gave at the beginning of his ministry. His mission was a direct quote from the book of Isaiah with a special focus on the “year of the Lord’s favor.” The phrase, the year of the Lord’s favor, that is found in Isaiah and quoted by Jesus is a reference to Jubilee. Jubilee was a biblical legislation to help form a community that could practice the love of God in practical ways. The covenant that God established with the people of ancient Israel covered all aspects of life from the spiritual to the most mundane. According to Leviticus 25 and Deuteronomy 15, during a Jubilee year, which was supposed to happen every 50 years (the cycle of seven sabbatical years), the Hebrews were called to practice four things: “1. To forgive all debts, 2. To free all the slaves, 3. To let the land rest, i.e., lie fallow, 4. To return the birthright land to those who lost it.” This was a call for a reversal of fortunes to ensure that all people had their basic needs met. This was the legislation in the law that ensured that people lived with the common good (the wellbeing of the whole of society) in mind. It was the way to learn and practice how to join God’s mission in the world and not be consumed by the needs of one’s ego. This was a practical way to fulfill God’s dream for the world! One of the primary themes of the Gospel of Luke is Jesus’ mission of reclaiming and acting out the Jubilee of God, and thereby bringing a great reversal to the economic, political and spiritual life of ancient Israel and of the world. Jesus came proclaiming that God’s true Jubilee was coming to both ancient Israel and to the world through his person and ministry.
Jesus saw his mission was to fulfill God’s dream of justice, compassion, and love in the world. This was not about having a specific profession, but of a way of life. It didn’t matter if he was at a private party or at a public speaking event; if he was alone, with friends or with enemies. What mattered was taking every piece and every opportunity that came his way to change the world. His focus was always on the dream and vision of God which he called “The Kingdom of God.” One of the clues for us about this kingdom is in the prayer which Jesus taught the disciples where it says, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” So wherever we are able to do God’s will or to support others in doing God’s will, that is how we know that we are on the path with Jesus to fulfill God’s dream for the world.
As we continue this week our “Change the World” adventure, what does it mean to follow Jesus? What Jesus calls us to do is to fulfill our purpose in life by living lives of significance instead of focusing on comfort or success. We are invited to journey with him as disciples who learn from him and as apostles who are sent out into the world to continue his mission. When we see our lives in that way, we can really find fulfillment and can then change the world.
As part of this journey with Jesus I would like to invite you to create a road map for your life. This is not about your career or accomplishments. It is about your calling to fulfill God’s dream. In following Jesus’ vision for his life, we are going to use six markers for our path of discipleship. Try to identify one of these markers where you feel God is calling you to journey in a more intentional way:
- The Spirit of God in your life: The key to Jesus’ mission was his connection to God. His prayer life, his knowledge of scripture and his connection to a community of faith were the keys to his ability to let go of his fears and to pursue God’s dream. Look at your own life and see where God is calling you to grow in your connection to the Spirit. Where do you get your Spirit powerups each day?
- Good News to the Poor: When has someone brought you good news? Who needs God’s good news in your circle of influence or in our world today? Who needs to be affirmed as a child of God? Where might your feet go on this path if bringing good news is part of your journey?
- Release to the Captives: When did you experience release in your life from something that kept you captive? Who are the captives around you or in our world? Who are you called to help release?
- Sight to the Blind: Have you ever had someone help you see things differently as if for the first time? How did they do that? Who are those who are blind in our world today? How are you called to help them see?
- The Oppressed Go Free: Who are the oppressed today who are longing for freedom? What is your part in this?
- The Year of the Lord’s Favor: What practices of release, redemption, and justice do our societies need? What is your piece of this big picture of love?
Growing up in a country where there were many people of other religions, I was aware that people found different ways to love and speak of God. Yet, for me what I cherished most about my faith tradition was the example of Jesus of radical love and commitment to changing the world to God’s ways of justice. He challenged people to go beyond their ego needs to embrace the fullness and beauty of God’s creation with all of its diversity. I hope that you will find a similar kind of inspiration this week as you meditate on the mission of Jesus and your call to follow him to serve, love and change the world.
Here is the Change the World quest for the week: Create a road map following the footsteps of Jesus.
Prayer (from faithandworship.com):
In my journeying with you,
may I never lose my sense of direction,
never lose sight of the landmark
towards which I travel.
And should cloud or rain obscure my vision,
may I draw closer to you,
so that my feet may tread
in your footsteps,
your words be my encouragement,
and your love my protection
against the storms that assail me. Amen.