This is post #1 in a nine blog/podcast series entitled LIVING PURPOSEFULLY. In this series, we’ll look at the theme of living a Christ-centered life and explore how we, like Jesus of Nazareth, can become recipients of God’s amazing gift to live life on purpose and to the full. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
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Our Lectio Divina for today: Luke 4: 14-24 (MsgB)
Jesus returned to Galilee powerful in the Spirit. News that He was back spread through the countryside. He taught in their meeting places to everyone’s acclaim and pleasure. He came to Nazareth where He had been reared. As He always did on the Sabbath, He went to the meeting place. When He stood up to read, He was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it was written, “God’s Spirit is on Me; He’s chosen Me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, sent Me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the burdened and battered free, to announce, “This is God’s year to act!” He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on Him, intent. Then He started in, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.”
In recent years, it’s been increasingly popular in both secular and sacred settings to talk about the great desire we all have to live a purposeful life. Rick Warren’s classic book, The Purpose-Driven Life, is a prime example, asking in its subtitle the probing question: What on Earth Am I Here For? I can just imagine that if Jesus were asked this question today, His reply would sound strikingly similar to His words found in Luke’s Gospel. (Luke 4: 18-19)
God’s Spirit is on Me; He’s chosen Me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, sent Me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the burdened and battered free, to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”
It’s very clear from reading today’s text in full context that right from the beginning of Jesus’ three-year ministry, the Master had clearly defined, with great purpose, the real reason He was living. And I love the way that Jesus obviously came to His conclusion. You see, Christ didn’t go out and buy the latest self-help book on purposeful living in order to come up with His answer, nor did He look to His friends, family, or business associates to help Him define who He was and why He was here.
As I see it, Jesus’ purposeful life was made that way, because He freely chose to allow His Father in Heaven to define His life for Him. In the next few blog sessions, we’ll unpack this idea more, but suffice for today to know that Jesus didn’t go out on His own, using His creative imagination, to assemble a well-crafted purpose statement for His life. It’s very apparent here in today’s text that Jesus had spent a vast amount of time studying, for Himself, God’s Word. He obviously knew well the context of the words we find Him reading here in the Nazarene synagogue on this special day.
You see, Isaiah 61 is Messiah-text. Prophetic words written centuries before the birth of Jesus; holy words that foretell of the primary job description of Messiah when He comes. Make no mistake; Jesus knew His purpose in this life, and it could be easily defined by opening the ancient scrolls and reading the first seven verses of Isaiah 61:
The Spirit of God, the Master, is on Me because God anointed Me. He sent Me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent Me to announce the year of His grace— a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—and to comfort all who mourn, to care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness” planted by God to display His glory. They’ll rebuild the old ruins, raise a new city out of the wreckage. They’ll start over on the ruined cities, take the rubble left behind and make it new. You’ll hire outsiders to herd your flocks and foreigners to work your fields, but you’ll have the title “Priests of God,” honored as ministers of our God. You’ll feast on the bounty of nations; you’ll bask in their glory. Because you got a double dose of trouble and more than your share of contempt, your inheritance in the land will be doubled and your joy go on forever.
So, as we look carefully at how you and I, in the twenty-first century, might better live more purposeful lives for the glory of God, might I propose to you that we look no further than Isaiah 61: 1-7 and Luke 4: 18-19 to form the very core of who we are, as dedicated followers of Christ, and the primary reason we are here.
I ask you to hold these scriptures near your heart as we explore further, in the coming sessions, the purposeful life of Jesus of Nazareth.
My prayer: Father God, there is no greater gift than to live this life purposely and to the full, knowing that I’m walking in Your fatherly desires for me. Jesus, I see You doing just that and I take seriously the specific purposes God set out for You in Your life. Holy Spirit, indwell and empower me to follow obediently in Jesus’ footsteps, living purposely for Your glory and for Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: What might it look like for me to take Jesus’ job description (Isaiah 61: 1-7 and Luke 4: 18-19) and bring a corresponding application of these words into my life? As a dedicated follower of Christ, how might these words encourage me to live a more purposeful, and Christ-centered life, for the glory of God?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live a Christ-centered, purposeful life?
Thank you for joining us on this 9-session journey we call Living Purposefully. We suggest you bookmark our blog/podcast homepage for this series to keep all the blogs and podcasts in one place for your future reference.
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