This Sunday, Barry Forde, chaplain of Queen’s University, read from Luke 4:14-30, exploring Jesus’ mission in the power of the spirit and how we as spiritual people can follow His example.
At the start of this passage, Jesus gathers with God’s people in Nazareth, declaring:
Initially, the crowd is in full support of Jesus’ teaching. They agree that God is sovereign, that Jesus is moving in the power of the Spirit and that He will fulfil God’s promise. However, the amazement soon turns to fury when Jesus challenges them. In Luke 4:24-27, Jesus declares to the crowd that the good news is not only for them but for everyone in the world. We see this message mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament.
However, this enraged Jesus’ audience; as far as they were concerned, they alone were God’s chosen people. Why should have to share this great blessing with the Gentiles? The audience was so infuriated that they drove Jesus out of the town and attempted to murder him. Ironically, this reaction reveals that they are no more worthy than the ones they regarded as outsiders and sinners.
The truth of the good news is that it is for everyone. We are all sinful by nature and every person in the world needs God’s grace and forgiveness. Not one of us is blameless; Jesus is the only blameless one and it is through His sacrifice that we can enjoy the wonders of God’s love and grace.
As believers of this miracle, we have been blessed with the Holy Spirit, and Jesus gave his disciples a clear instruction on their role as spiritual people:
We are called to be His Witnesses, spreading the truth of the gospel to the ends of the earth. We live in a diverse world, with many different cultures and beliefs. Some people will believe in the Lord, the father of Jesus, whilst others believe in another deity. Some are guided by various scientific theories and philosophies and then there are people whose own opinions govern their behaviour and morality. Barry described our world as a cultural warzone, with a multitude of opposing opinions and attitudes.
So how can we act as witnesses to the ends of the earth?
We can because God is sovereign. Throughout the earth, regardless of whether there is a strong Christian influence or presence, God is and will always be sovereign. The spirit of the Lord has been given to us to help us reach out to those who do not know or accept God as their King and saviour. God has the power to open their hearts and breathe this same spirit into their soul.
We can act as witnesses by walking faithfully with God, joining together in fellowship as one united body of Christ. We can act as witnesses by praying and supporting others, showing love and kindness to those around us.
This scripture from Luke is not only a teaching of the good news, but it is also a perfect example of how we can act as witnesses in the power of the Spirit. Because just as Jesus did, we too can allow the Holy Spirit to move us and to declare the good news that God is for everyone and that we can find freedom through Him.