According to gospel tradition, the first words Jesus ever preached were these:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me 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 favor...
“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
~Luke 4:18, 19, 21 (NRSV).
The first five lines were read from the scroll of Isaiah (61:1-2) and the final line was Jesus’ summation — that was his sermon! And it created quite an impact (Luke 4:22-30).
Of course, the rest of the gospel accounts lay out the Jesus-story in ways so diverse their truths are everlastingly deep. But, just what personal benefit is there in following this ‘Saviour’?
Well, Jesus himself has answered that question above.
Needing Jesus – The Anointed One
It’s clear in reading the gospels that Jesus is the promised Messiah. But he’s not the sort of Messiah that the Jews were expecting; they’d misread their Scriptures. No military or political ruler, but a saviour redeeming a sinful world.
The truth is we all fall short of the best we’re capable of (Romans 3:23) in both theoretical and practical ways; how we think and therefore act.
It’s only from the acceptance of this fact — that it’s even a problem — that we can make the most of troubled circumstances as we embrace a once-calamitous truth.
Acceptance of our need is the end of one hopeless journey and the creation of a new one — one worlds better.
Why do we need to follow Jesus?
Because we need him to live anything close to a truthful life. Will we be like Pilate and say, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) or will we understand the impactful reality of this premise upon which all of life exists?
Discouragement, helplessness and hopelessness are now recoverable, through Jesus.
Good News to the Poor – Release to the Captives etc
Though this pithy passage from Isaiah is thick with theological meaning, our purpose — right now — is devotional.
The general truth is we’re all spiritually poor; by circumstance and disposition. There are times we’re poor and there’s the generality of our poorness. Our spirits are bereft — at truth — without God. With Jesus we’re promised not only redemption from the terror of the abyss we were to ourselves, but we have reconciliation with ourselves and, therefore, restoration.
This is a God-engineered reality; something we cannot do for ourselves.
The good news is release from the spiritual dungeon entrapping us to lies, and the healing of all varieties of otherwise irreconcilable spiritually-mandated maladies.
That’s a day-by-day reality that is lived out by the person truly following Jesus — as the Number 1, and only effective, pre-emptive strike against fear upon life.
What difference does Jesus make?
The overwhelming evidence bellows: all the difference in the known world! — Even to the point that we’re in awe of how indescribable and unfathomable the difference is. There’s no veritable limit to the grace of God to sanctify and heal us.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.
Graphic Credit: United Methodist Church, South Dakota.
See the Lenten Series: GODSPACE.