May 18, 2021
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
“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.”
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Purpose is defined as the reason for which something is done or for which something or someone exists. Without a sense of purpose, we humans don’t do well. “Why am I here?” seems to demand an answer. Without an answer, we cannot discern what is important and what is not. With only 24 hours in the day and endless ways to fill those hours, a purpose offer focus and keeps us form getting overwhelmed.
When I feel I have lost my sense of purpose, the life of Jesus inspires me. In particular, Luke chapter 4 tells me a lot about how Jesus understood his purpose. Upon his baptism, Jesus headed into the wilderness. In the wilderness, he was tempted. In other words, Jesus was presented some purposes for his life that weren’t exactly right for him. He was offered power and wealth and he rejected the offer, because he knew his true purpose. Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah and claims it as his purpose, too, “…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 favor.”
Mere verses later, people are angry at him for claiming his purpose and tried to hurl him off a cliff, but with his purpose clear, he “went on his way.”
Later in this chapter, folks are trying to throw Jesus off again. They want him to stay where he is. Why not just make a home and do your ministry here, Jesus? Verse 43 says, “But he said to them, ‘I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.’” Everywhere Jesus goes, he is given really good offers: power, wealth, stability. Everywhere Jesus goes, he refuses those offers. Why? Because he is clear on his purpose. His ministry is successful because of its clarity of purpose. I want to live with that kind of clarity. I want our church to live with that kind of clarity. Imagine if Jesus had been so easily distracted by the good work he could have done that wasn’t his to do?