Often, while preaching, I find myself wishing it was possible to make my words sound more in public the way they sound in my heart.

Last Sunday was one of those moments.

It is such a dramatic scene in Luke chapter four. Jesus stands in the synagogue, takes the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and reads:

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
          because he has anointed me. (Luke 4:18)

Leading up to this scene, in chapter three and the beginning of chapter four in Luke’s Gospel, everything has aimed at making a common point. Jesus’ baptism, the genealogy, and his temptations in the wilderness, all announce that Jesus shared our humanity.

Just as we need to be baptized, Jesus chose to be baptized. As we have a human lineage, the genealogy of Jesus can also be traced through human history. As we struggle with the reality of temptation so too Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. And now in chapter four, as Jesus was “anointed” by the Spirit to fulfill God’s calling in his life, we are to understand that we too need to be empowered by the Spirit of Jesus to fulfill our mission as people called to live the Jesus-life in our day.

In 2 Corinthians Paul used the same word used in Luke 4:18  when he wrote,

it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts. (2 Corinthians 2:21, 22)

So, when Jesus reads from the prophet Isaiah and then puts down the scroll saying,

‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled
in your hearing.’ (Luke 4:21)

Jesus is not talking only about himself. He is talking about all those he represents. As Jesus was “anointed” to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy, so we too who follow him are “anointed” to fulfill this prophesy through our lives. The call Jesus heard in his heart, is the call we are to hear in our lives. Through the prophet Isaiah, Jesus announces the reason for which we humans exist.

Like Jesus we are anointed

to bring good news to the poor.

to proclaim

release to the captives

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ (Luke 4:18,19)

This is the human mission. Our divine calling is to be “good news,” to bring release, recovery of sight, freedom, and favour into the world.

I will meet someone today who is “poor”. They may not be materially poor; they may be lonely, lost, confused, or poor in spirit.

  • How will I be “good news” for the “poor” person God brings across my path today?
  • How will I proclaim “release” to the person who experiences life as a trap, who feels held captive by circumstances they are powerless to change?
  • How will be a source of clarity and truth for a person who has lost sight of the way forward?
  • How can I proclaim freedom to the person I encounter who is oppressed?
  • What does it mean for me to proclaim that God is in favour of all human beings?

They are challenging questions.

It is tempting to feel overwhelmed by this grand mission of being human. This is why we must begin where Isaiah, Jesus, and Paul all began, with the affirmation that,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
          because he has anointed me.

The Spirit of Jesus lives in my heart. The question is not, how will I do what Jesus calls me to do. The only question is how will I open my heart to allow the Spirit of Jesus to be expressed in and through my life.

The Spirit of Jesus will manifest differently in every person’s life. The important thing is to live responsively in tune with that Spirit of love and compassion that as Christians we see embodied in Jesus. The wisdom, power, and light have been given.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…
          he has anointed me.