Weekly Bible Devotional
“The Bible: The Gift of the Spirit”
March 14, 2021
Scripture for Sunday: Luke 4:14-21
14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15 He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 “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,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Notes on The Text:
The Gospel of Luke is the first part of the story which the author was trying to share about faith. It is the part about the power of the Spirit in and through Jesus. The second part, the book of Acts, is about that same power or gift of the Spirit moving the disciples to fulfill their calling. The ministry of Jesus according to Luke began in a very ordinary place where Jesus would have gone many times before. Yet, what was extraordinary about that moment of the beginning of his mission was his choice of scripture for that day and how he proclaimed that it was being fulfilled through him.
Jesus had been in the wilderness prior to beginning his ministry. He had to get grounded in the world of the Spirit before going into his ministry. He faced the temptations of ego power of control, esteem, survival, and security. When he went back, he allowed the Spirit to be the driving force of his life’s energy. He started teaching and preaching in different towns and synagogues. When he came to his own town, he went to the synagogue to speak. He picked up a reading from the book of Isaiah that was about the fulfillment of God’s vision of justice and peace for the world. It was a lofty vision that it seemed impossible for anyone to accomplish no matter how powerful they were. The people of Jesus believed that only one who is blessed by God could help bring such vision to life. And Jesus knew that. That is why he was always centered on the power of the Spirit within him. That was also the path he set before his disciples. They needed to rely on the power of God’s Spirit for their ministry.
We need the power of the Spirit to live by the vision of God in this world. The gift of the Spirit as one of the great themes of New Testament is so central to the ministry of Jesus, to his disciples, and to us. It is not something we can fully understand with our minds, but it is the only power strong enough to help us love and live beyond the limitations of our fears, failures, losses, and hatreds. Most of the time, the power of the Spirit leaves us with tremendous gifts we never imagined possible.
Richard Rohr writes that we have a hard time with acting like Jesus did because “we are capitalists, even in the spiritual life. We are more comfortable with an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. We don’t know what to do with a God who breaks that rule! God’s relentless generosity is hard for us to comprehend, much less practice…It is the gift of the Holy Spirit, then which enables Christ’s disciples to be impossibly just (in this God-like sense) to everyone. It is by the power of the Spirit that they can do what others cannot: ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you; pray for those who treat you badly. If someone slaps you on one cheek, let him slap the other one. If someone takes your coat, let him take your shirt as well. Treat others the way you want them to treat you.’ (Luke 6:27-30)”
Our world is filled with experiences and threats that block our ability to live by the Spirit and to allow God to heal our pain so that we may heal others. But when we consent to God’s gift, amazing things happen. This does not mean that we never suffer again or that everything would be perfect for us. What it means instead is that we are able to live with the strength of Spirit that lets us love and embrace God’s justice and mercy beyond any of the limitations of our egos. There is tremendous freedom there!
Blessing by Sarah Bessey:
May the peace of God give you renewed hope and wisdom,
May you find the strength you already carry within you to be enough,
May the grace of God be sufficient,
May you find a deep breath when the air around you is thin,
May you grow in compassion in these days,
May you love well, not in spite of these anxious times but because of them. Amen