The Mission: Replicate!

Jesus was the first Apostle, sent from the Father to lead the way in declaring the year of the Lord's favor to the spiritually and physically oppressed. This "good news" was demonstrated by setting people free from bad habits and God-opposing sin, demonic powers and crippling diseases. How can we as the church replicate the mission of Jesus?

“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and 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 proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
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.

He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’
All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.”            Luke 4:16-22

We all understand that organizations have stated objectives. A set of goals that governs decision-making. It is their statement of purpose. Why they are needed. It’s a called a mission statement. It’s being clear why they do certain things & do not do certain things.

What was the purpose of Jesus?  Why did he come? Inspiration? Motivation? Luke 4:16-22 reveals the mission of Jesus. His purpose for coming. As we consider His mission, we must allow a question to emerge in the back of our minds, “How can we replicate His mission?”

Let’s provide some background to this passage. Jesus had been recently baptized by his cousin, John the baptizer in the Jordan (Luke 3:22). He had been led into the desert for forty days to be tempted by Satan (Luke 4:1-2).  

He was known locally as Joseph and Mary’s son, a carpenter like his father before him.  News of his ministry had “spread through the whole countryside and everyone praised him.” (Luke 4:14)  
Jesus could have picked any number of passages to read but chose Isaiah 61. This is known by all to be talking about the coming Messiah…who would bring in an age of freedom…of Jubilee. You must understand the Jewish year of Jubilee in order to understand the significance of what Jesus is talking about here.

The year of Jubilee began on the Day of Atonement.  This was the day that the sins of the people would be atoned for by the sacrifice of the goat and the release of the scapegoat (see Leviticus 16).  So it is fitting that the year of Jubilee would begin on such a solemn day.  The people fasted and prayed for ten days prior this ceremony.  It was a time of deep regret and sorrow for their sins.

Once the sacrifice was completed and atonement has been made for the people, then a year long celebration took place.  The Year of Jubilee would begin with the blowing of the ram’s horn because the word ‘jubilee” means “sound of the horn.”

The Year of Jubilee was the great equalizer. Every fifty years, all slaves were set free, all leases were to expire, all debts were to be forgiven, and property was to be returned to its original owners. It was a way for God to remind the people that the land was not really theirs but that God had entrusted it to them.

This kept people from buying up huge parcels of land.  No one could grow rich, and no one would be perpetually poor.  No matter how bleak a person’s life was, the year of Jubilee provided hope.  Everything would be made right at the Year of Jubilee.

Isaiah prophesied in the year of Jubilee..he was saying that a day was coming where God would send His Messiah who would usher in an entire era of Jubilee; Where God’s people would be liberated from everything that held them captive.

So imagine this day where Jesus reads this prophecy…Imagine if you will that we are all gathered in a large room inside of a house in a town called Nazareth in Galilee.

The year is around AD 30 and it is the Sabbath day.  We have gathered to worship the Lord and one of the elders looks around the room for someone to read from the scroll of the prophets.  His eyes spot the son of the carpenter, Jesus bar Joseph. Jesus had been traveling and teaching and had become somewhat of a local celebrity. The scroll is handed to Jesus and he stands to read. Since none of us have our own scroll we listen intently.

After unrolling the scroll, his eyes scan down the parchment. What will he read? What great teaching we he give us?  It is the prophecy about the Messiah who would usher in a literal & spiritual era of Jubilee..or an era of the Lord’s favor.

The next verse is one of my favorite in the entire Bible: “…and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." (Luke 4:21)

This is Jesus’ drop the mic & roll off the stage moment. You have got to realize how huge this had to be for them. Jesus shocks the group by claiming the principle of the year of Jubilee and the promise of a coming deliverer are found in a Person, and that person is himself.  The promised Messiah had finally arrived and he was sitting right in front of them!

Jesus’ first sermon had three points: He was the promised Messiah, the Jubilee age had arrived because the Messiah had arrived,  his mission was one of liberation.

The words of Isaiah were still echoing in their ears and Jesus announces that He is the Jubilee!  He has not come to usher in a year of Jubilee, he has come to usher in an age of Jubilee.

The group is stunned: “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. "Isn’t this Joseph’s son?" they asked.”(Luke 4:22) Notice that everyone at first was amazed by Jesus, they were blown by His words…they believed them!

But then the old brain kicked in. Logic kicked in. The people were confused. They  knew him. He grew up around them. They knew his family. They knew the rumors surrounding his birth. Here is the carpenter’s son claiming to be the Messiah. Could it be?

Most concluded that Jesus was out of his mind and this section of Scripture ends with him being banished from Nazareth and the people attempting to murder him. As Jesus pointedly stated: “No prophet is welcome in his hometown.” (Luke 4:24)  Although He was rejected by the people of Nazareth, he had openly announced He was the Christ, the promised Deliverer.

The principle of Jubilee and the promise of deliverance were fulfilled in the Person and ministry of Jesus Christ.  Rather than an approaching judgment from God, the mission of Jesus reveals that the Father’s agenda is quite the opposite! It is an era of declaring the forgiveness of indebtedness against God, and releasing prisoners of physical and demonic oppression.

As followers of Jesus, we have been commissioned by Jesus Himself to pick up right where He left off. We have been commissioned with the same proclamation and demonstration as Jesus Himself because we too have been empowered and anointed by the Spirit of God!

1. Jesus Had A Spirit-Empowered & Anointed Mission. So do we.
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me
The Spirit was upon Him BECAUSE He was anointed….The word “anointed” means to be set apart unto God for special service. Some of us think we need to get the anointing through all these things we do. Fasting…praying…Bible reading. But God has set us apart as His holy people.  Set apart & empowered by His Spirit…

To do what?

Jesus was operating in his ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. It's so easy to pass off Jesus' ministry as one-of-a-kind, only possible because he was divine.

But notice Luke's terminology in the Book of Acts when he refers to ordinary mortals.
Acts is prefaced by saying, "In my former book, Theophilis, I wrote about all that Jesus began (archo) to do and to teach..." (Acts 1:1).

This clearly implies that Jesus is still acting and teaching in the Early Church.
Luke starts the book of Acts with the promise of the Holy Spirit (1:5, 8), followed by the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost (2:8, 17).

Now we begin to find similar phrases in Acts concerning the disciples as we do in Luke concerning Jesus:
  • "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said..." (Acts 4:8).
  • "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly" (Acts 4:31).
  • "Choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom (Acts 6:3, 5).
  • "Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit..." (Acts 7:55).
In other words, Luke sees the Spirit as both Jesus' power for ministry on earth, and ours, too, as disciples.

Yes, Jesus is a special case in that he is Divine and his redemption on the cross can only be accomplished by the sinless Son of God.  But he is NOT a special case in his ministry. He ministers from the fullness of the Holy Spirit just like we can.

This is why Jesus gave his disciples an awesome prediction:
"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." (John 14:12)

"But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:7)

I believe that Jesus intended his disciples to understand that we are to minister in the same power with which he ministered. The power of the Holy Spirit, who is present with us today on the cusp of the 21st century, full strength and undiluted.

2. Jesus Proclaimed Good News to the Poor: Liberty to Prisoners & Sight to the Blind.  So should we.

“to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind…”

The poor. People who have little or nothing to expect from their circumstances. This is the begging poor.

So what is this “good news”?

First, there is freedom for “prisoners”.  A prisoner is one who is “taken by spear” into captivity. It means they are held captive by something that is outside of their choice or free will.

“Recovery of sight for the blind.” How many in the church today are prisoners to their desires, their habits? How does Jesus bring prisoners out? By opening their eyes to the truth! These prisoners are squatting in a corner of a prison cell looking down & around…but Jesus has broken the chains off your ankles, snatched the locks off of the prison cell gate!

The way Jesus proclaimed liberty to the prisoners then & the way he does it today is by bringing sight to the blind. Ask Jesus to open you eyes to what He has really done & who you really are in Him!

Some of us are saved but still imprisoned to the guilt of a religious system that makes us feel guilty for not living up to its standards.

Some of us are imprisoned to strongholds in our thinking…lies that defy God’s truth…we allow those lies to direct our thinking & dictate our behavior.

Jesus is shouting through a megaphone: “I’ve opened the prison doors! I’ve beaten the soldiers that keep you locked in! Open your eyes to that truth! I want you all to be set free with the good news so that you can set others free with the good news!”

3. Jesus proclaimed the year of the Lord’s favor by setting the oppressed free.  So should we.

So if we have a message of good news…a message that liberates…then you better have the ability to actually liberate them. Jesus demonstrated this all the time.

He declared, “I am the light of the world”, and he would open the eyes of the blind. He would say that he is the way—the road—and he would heal the lame so they could walk in it.

Here’s why so many people are running from Christianity instead of it to it:
Because our message isn’t all that good…and we got nothing to back it up!

 We tell people that we have good news…that Jesus will forgive them of all their sin…and then we put them under a microscope ready to judge them when they drop the ball. We tell people Jesus saves, he heals, he delivers…but many churches turn right around and say…oh…we don’t believe that anymore.

We allegorize demon possession. We spiritualize deliverance. We get spiritual truths from the stories of healings. The world needs some real, tangible, good news!

The world is miserable today! Many of us believe the same things the world believes. We fall into the trap of believing that the devil isn’t real, that sickness is a fact of life & that salvation is just another term for religious ritual.

The world needs its Liberator! The world needs its Savior!

Jesus died on the cross for all sin. He reconciled this fallen & disconnected world to the Father of Lights in whom there is no shadow of turning! Jesus rose from the grave victorious over death & everything leading up to death…all sicknesses…and Jesus rose up from that grave & ascended past all of the known evil principalities in the kingdom of darkness arrayed against us…showing that he crushed the head of satan….the ultimate oppressor!

For those who have been beaten. For those who have been enslaved to addictions. To those crushed by the sorrows of life.

Today I have good news for you! Your liberator has come! You salvation has come! You are free to love God with no guilt or condemnation! And it’s even better….to give you a taste of the world that is to come, your liberator will heal your sicknesses & diseases…He will deliverer you of the afflictions of the evil one—the devil!

So Jesus has commissioned us…His church to replicate His Mission.. Which is one of proclamation & liberation. This is the good news in its fullness.

Many people have no idea why they are pursuing Jesus. Why go to church? Why go to a Bible study? Why pray? The main reason Jesus came was so that we could be reconciled with the Father AND THEN share in His ministry of reconciliation!

We too must be about our Father’s business! So how did Jesus set the oppressed free? How did he lead them into liberty? He delivered them of evil spirits.

Look at Luke 4:33 33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.
36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!”

When we truly replicate the mission of Jesus, you should replicate His message, & replicate His results.
1. The mission of Jesus is described in Luke 4:16-22, which includes proclamation and demonstration of a new epoch of God’s favor for everyone.
2. Jesus had a Spirit-empowered and anointed mission. So do we!
3. Jesus proclaimed the year of the Lord’s favor by setting the oppressed free.  So should we.

Bryan Finley

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