January 28, 2016 by eneubauer
Each week I am amazed at the power of the Gospel message. Whether familiar or not the Word of God has always had a unique way of speaking to me, no matter where I am on my journey towards Christ and the Church.
My effort in this post is to share some practical ways that we can apply the Gospel, proclaimed on Sunday, to our lives in the weeks following. Remember, the Gospel has the power to transform the disciple into a proper reflection of its teacher. To put it simply, it has the unique ability to help us become more like Jesus.
Today, I would like to reflect on this excerpt from this Sunday’s Gospel – Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
As I heard this passage on Sunday I instantly thought of another that goes well with the invitation Jesus Christ gives us in Luke. Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus address his disciples and says,
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (ESV)
Before we can do the work of Christ we have to be sure that we are first following Christ. In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus gives us a picture of what a disciple looks like. He tells us in plain terms that being a disciple requires:
- Self-Denial – An others first mentality
- Acceptance of Hardship / Struggle
- Giving Our Whole Life to Christ
Although the disciples path is not easy it does come with a promise. “Whoever loses his life for my (Jesus’) sake will find it.” It is important to note that our purpose becomes clear as we develop a relationship with and follow Jesus on the road to Golgotha.
With these thoughts in mind let’s turn to the meat of Sunday’s Gospel Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21. What I love about Jesus and the New Testament is just how plain the messages are. In studying this passage we are able to discern His key concerns. The Gospel states that Jesus has been “anointed” to:
- Bring glad tidings to the poor
- Proclaim liberty to the captives
- Recovery of sight to the blind
- Let the oppressed to free
In this passage we uncover key points that will encourage us in our daily walk. First, the life of Christ is closely connected to the proclamation of truth in both word and deed. The natural result of a growing faith is bringing the hope of Christ to others. As this may be difficult for some, we are encouraged to turn to Christ in prayer. He will give us the strength, wisdom and provide clear direction on what is needed in any situation.
Second, if we are honest all of us know folks who struggle in these areas. As a disciple of Christ we should be concerned with those who are stuck in poverty, captivity, blindness and oppression. As Mother Teresa used to put it – it is not always an outward and obvious struggle. For example, in the West many struggle with spiritual poverty. Although we have our physical needs met westerners are often lonely, estranged from community life and far away from a personal relationship with God.
Question: Who in your life is captive to unhealthy patterns of living? Who is blind to truth, their own self-destructive behavior, or even the offer of assistance from a well intentioned friend? Who is oppressed in your community? No matter how far we have come as a society there are those who find themselves stuck because of institutional injustice that marginalize certain groups even in the twenty-first century.
In conclusion, in asking the disciple to take up his/her cross and follow Him Jesus is providing a pathway for us to be part of His plan. The fruit of His plan is complete reconciliation, the experience of intimate relationship, fulfillment and eternal life. Be intentional about being a disciple today.
I am praying for you.