The Nature of Jesus’ Ministry
Luke 4:14-21

Dr. William S. Epps, Senior Pastor

Sunday, January 23, 2022
The Nature of Jesus’ Ministry

14And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.  Luke 4:14-21


The importance Luke attaches to the Nazareth scene is revealed in the way it is presented. Apparently he begins with a brief story about Jesus’ return home, a story that both Mark 6:1-6 and Matthew 13:54-58 also share. He highlights the story by moving it to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and more importantly, by the addition of the quotations from Isaiah 61:1-2 and 58:6. The changes convert a short story of confrontation into an announcement about the shape and scope of the ministry in which Jesus would be engaged and the purpose of the church that will carry out that ministry.
In a word, the ministry of Jesus is prophetic. That should surprise no reader who has followed Luke’s story. The prophetic theme announced here already appears in Mary’s celebration of God’s grace to the lowly and God’s response to the proud and mighty. Remember what she said in Luke chapter 1:42-45:

42And she spoke out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

Although couched in different language, John the baptizer’s preaching also anticipates the prophetic theme of Jesus’ ministry. John preached a message of repentance expressed in water baptism and bearing the fruit of repentance in one’s life.  The quotations from Isaiah in Luke chapter 4 and verses 18-19 capture the prophetic theme on the person of Jesus. Those gathered in the synagogue may not yet understand that the quotation applies to Jesus himself, but the reader surely knows that the Spirit is indeed “upon” Jesus and that He the one anointed to preach or, to say it as the new revised standard version puts it, “to bring good news.” 
The claim of Luke 4:21 certainly identifies the passage with present events, namely, with the ministry of Jesus.

Consider what it means to embrace the ministry of Jesus as Mary and John the baptizer voiced (a)being compassionate with one another, (b)not taking advantage of one another and (c)doing no harm to one another.  
Monday, January 24, 2022
An excellent example is expressed in the four words, "as his custom was." They occur only twice in the Gospel. The first instance is here in this passage. The other one comes near the end of Jesus' life, when he "went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives (22:39). Both times the custom had to do with prayer. Instinctively and habitually Jesus prayed, not only privately but publicly in the solitary hours of his own quietude and in the public worship of God's people. In our vernacular, Jesus made a practice of going to church. Jesus made it a custom to pray. 
Why did he do this? Firstly, he recognized that there were associations of time and place which made the awareness of God more apparent. Secondly, the synagogue linked the present to the past. The worship of today has its continuity with all the rich meanings of long yesterdays. The hope, desires, the needs of immediate life could no longer be seen as occasional and accidental. They became part of the yearning and promise of all the generations. Thirdly, the synagogue meant fellowship. And it is in fellowship that the fire of the spirit may kindle best. For a soul in isolation the fire may die, as the fire dies out in a coal set off by itself; but as coals, each one of which was only partially glowing, when brought together turn into a flame. So also the souls of people attain the glowing heat which one by one they might have lost when they are brought together in corporate worship.
Such were some of the values to which Jesus gave his silent and steady testimony when He went, as His custom was. 
Consider what it means for you to have a custom of going to church
and a custom of praying as Jesus did.  
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Jesus gives a description of the ministry which He would fulfill.  
“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.” Luke 4:18-19

Jesus was actively practicing His faith tradition. He also was familiar with the sacred documents of His faith tradition from which He read. He chose a passage from a time in the life the nation of Israel and shares its relevance for the time in which He was living
Jesus gives a description of the ministry for which He was anointed. I might add here that it stands to reason that the church, congregations of believers in Christ, should reflect in their ministries that which claim the focus of the One whose name they bear. 
Our faith tradition is rooted in the what Jesus does, practices, and says. 
Consider what it means that the ministries of the church,
congregations of believes in Christ, should mimic
and reflect the ministry of Jesus. 
Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Remember that John the baptizer responded to three groups who want to know from him what they should do. The first response was to be people. The second response was not to take advantage of anyone. The third response was “do no harm.” Jesus specifies his compassion for those who are disadvantaged.  
Jesus has a mission to the poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed - categories that indicate the breadth of His concern for people in need. 
Jesus identifies with those who were alienated, disenfranchised, marginalized, and ostracized. The only weapon Jesus ever used to win His way was love and so Jesus lived and taught, and in the end imparted the same spirit to His disciples. 
The language of liberation has become so commonplace in North American society in recent decades that we may not hear the urgency and the daring of the call. 
To declare that the captives and the oppressed should go free, and that this action results directly from the will of God is where God is at work in the ministry of Jesus. Luke again and again calls up this theme.
Look at the specificity of the ministry of Jesus which is imparted to His disciples and now the church. 
Jesus brought good news to the poor - Those who were poor physically and spiritually. Remember Jesus said in the sermon on the mount, blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The poor in spirit are those who are aware of their deficiency, their frailty, and vulnerability. Life’s vicissitudes reveal our susceptibility to vicious confrontations. Poor in spirit is the recognition of our need for God.
Additionally, Jesus is almost certainly talking about those who are considered outsiders, people of low status who are susceptible to being victimized whether their problems stem from economic poverty or other causes. 
The last two years have been exceptionally troubling for a number of reasons.
A mere reflection on what we are experiencing will remind us of our vulnerability to life’s vicissitudes. We have experienced a confluence of circumstances creating chaotic crises of unprecedented proportions. 815,000 people have died from complications of Covid-19 and its protraction due to various factors such as the Delta and Omicron variants, vax resistance; the politicization of the pandemic, and stressed health care systems with overworked healthcare professionals.

We wonder why the test when we try to do our best. There are those who are confused, filled with doubt and distrust. Worldwide the death toll is 5,420,255
(as of December 27, 2021) and still counting with the continued variants causing uncertainty about getting the pandemic under control.  
We are all deficient, frail and vulnerable. We are all creatures of clay and dust. 
We are all lacking something. We are all at the disposal of being exposed to hurt, harm and danger. 
Consider what it means that Jesus’ ministry is for those who are aware
of their vulnerability to what threatens their lives.
Thursday, January 27, 2022
Heal the broken hearted 
These words have a relevance to the spirit of Jesus' ministry (redemption from suffering). He touched life not only at its points of joy and power, but He brought the consciousness of the presence of God not only on the heights but in the valleys, not only in the lights but in the shadows, not only in those moments when life soars up on wings, but in those other moments when it walks with lame and weary feet upon a heavy road. Jesus, in His life and teaching, did not set Himself to give a verbal explanation of this world's inescapable paradox of sorrow and of seeming evil; but for Himself and for others, He redeemed sorrow through His revelation of a spirit which could transfigure it with courage, steady it with trust, and transform its effects with faith.
The story is told about a lady who went to a spiritual guru and asked him to help her with the grief which had left her broken and helpless. He told her to go out and find a household in which there were no people with broken hearts - whether due to death, failure, ruptured relationships, or you name it. The guru knew she would not find a place without grief and loss. In her search to find a place without grief she found herself turning her hurt into an opportunity for healing. 
Consider what it means to heal the broken hearted, the grieving,
and the sorrowing as Jesus did.  
Friday, January 28, 2022
Preach deliverance to the captives
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captive. (Luke 4:18)  
There are various forms of captivity. There is the captivity that comes through the seductions of the flesh, wherein one yields more to basic instincts rather than to better angels. (Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay).
There is another kind of captivity.  There is the captivity that comes with discouraging and disorganized times. Individuals feel a sense of inadequacy and frustration; they grow hopeless as to working out any successful destiny of their own. We can become captive to so much that claims our attention, energy, and time. Captive by the cramping confines of egos blown out of proportion. Captive to apathy, complacency, discouragement, hopelessness, selfishness.  
Reviving sight to the blind (Luke 4:18)
We may think the recovery of sight to the blind was in direct reference to physical healing. There are numerous accounts in the Gospels of blind persons who came to Jesus begging and whom Jesus made to see. The healing power of Jesus is something that expands our insight with inspiration that sometimes defies explanation but requires declaration.  
We may be equally sure that the physical healing was not the only and probably not the chief result of the spirit which Jesus had in mind. The great gift of Jesus was that He did not open eyes only, but opened the minds of people to the wonder and majesty of the nearness of God. He helped them to see some of the light of God's presence in the ordinary place and in ordinary people. There is an arresting suggestion in the description in Mark 8:22-26 of the healing of a blind man: 
Jesus had touched him first, and asked him, "Do you see anything?" He looked up and said, "I see men but they look like trees, walking." He touched him again and he saw more clearly.  
Consider what it means to be released from being captive in any way, shape,
form or fashion and to gain sight, (hindsight, insight and foresight)
to see more clearly about managing the reality you face.  
Saturday, January 29, 2022
Proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord
The “acceptable year of the Lord” (Isaiah 61:2, NKJV), or the “favorable year of the LORD” (NASB) or the “year of the LORD’s favor” (NIV), is not a literal year, but rather a space of time that is characterized by God’s grace, redemption, and deliverance. In Isaiah, the acceptable year of the Lord refers to God’s restoration of His people from Babylonian captivity, possibly with the intention of likening it to the year of Jubilee, when liberty was proclaimed throughout all the land (see Leviticus 25).

The Jubilee is the year at the end of seven cycles of shmita (Sabbatical years) and, according to biblical regulations, had a special impact on the ownership and management of land in the Land of Israel. According to the Book of Leviticus, Hebrew slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven, and the mercies of Yahweh would be particularly manifest.

Consider what the acceptable year of the Lord means for
your understanding of what God has done for you in
Christ with deliverance, grace, and redemption.

You thought I was worth saving / So you came and changed my life
You thought I was worth keeping / so you cleaned me up inside
You thought I was to die for / so you sacrificed your life
So I could be free / So I could be whole / So I could tell everyone I know
You thought I was worth it. 
Hallelujah / Glory to the God who changed my life
And I will praise you (Forever)
I'll worship you (Forever) / I'll give you glory (Forever)
Because I am free / Because I am whole / And I will tell everyone I know
You thought I was worth saving / So you came and changed my life
You thought I was worth keeping / So you cleaned me up inside
You thought I was to die for / You sacrificed your life
So I can be free / I could be whole / I could tell everyone I know
You thought I was worth it. 

Anthony Brown & group therAPy
2412 Griffith Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90011 
Phone: (213) 748-0318