January 17th 2009

Proclaiming the Year of the Lord’s Favour

And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him…

Luke 4:16‑20 NIV

Can Christians really change the world? Or is Christianity just about warm, cosy, fuzzy feelings of inner spirituality, about being OK with oneself, about how you and Jesus can walk hand in hand into a bright and shapeless eternity?

I love it in the above scripture where it says all eyes were fastened on him. You could have heard a pin drop. No one looked to the right or the left. The silence was stifling; the words of Christ electrifying. I would love to have been a fly on the wall, and probably no one would have swatted me as no one dared move.

What was so startling about Jesus’ words? The audience would have recognised the passage he used. It was regarded as a reading from one of the great celebrations, the year of the Jubilee. They saw it as being all about them. They wanted someone to cry freedom for them. They were the poor, they yearned to be no longer prisoners of the Roman occupation, to be no longer oppressed, to have their national sight recovered and to be in God’s favour. Was this a call to rebellion?

What Christ was saying, and what in the end infuriated even those from his own community, was that the Spirit of God leads you to make a difference in the world you’re in, no matter what your circumstances are. Yes, through our very existence Christians can and do and must make a change for good wherever they are. No excuses accepted. It is not a question of being warmed and filled spiritually for our own sakes. Christianity is about others, about Christ working through us. Everyone we come into contact with, everything we come into contact with, should benefit from the difference.

What was the end result of Jesus’ preaching these things in Nazareth? The people were beside themselves with anger. No one was going to tell them that they should personally get involved in making the world a godlier place. “All the people were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way” (Luke 4:28‑30).

I would love to have been there!!


Wonderful Father, thank you for the boldness of your Son. Thank you that he has called me to make a make a difference for the Kingdom. Give me please the strength to help wherever I can, to proclaim in words and actions the year of the Lord’s favour.


Study by James Henderson

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