the one where Jesus says what he'll do...
January 28, 2019, 12:00 AM

Sermon from January 27, 2019

Text: Luke 4:14-21, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, there have been so many interpretations of who Jesus is and was and continues to be. There are some who think of him solely as a really good guy, some as a radical disturber of order, some as a simple messianic Jew. In line with our desire to ‘know’ Jesus more fully, the idea of the WWJD movement began. But, if you didn’t know, that phrase and terminology has been around since the late 1800s. It was emphasized in a novel by Charles Sheldon in 1896.

In the last few years, the interpretation of ‘What would Jesus do’ has gone through some pretty interesting leaps. It seems every loud voice, political individual, and more wants to tell you what Jesus would do, and what they think Jesus would do just so happens to align with what they want to do. This can be a bit sticky and lead to some pretty incredible things (and incredible in the ways that I don’t believe are good).

As we have talked and read and learned from Jesus and what he says in our scriptures, we typically see a man who speaks in ways that require deep thought and concentration because what he says is told in parables. Radical parables that make us think about the world and our preconceptions of the world and how we live in it, but at times confusing parables none the less. It isn’t very often that we get to read from Jesus’ lips something that is clear, concise, and straight to the point.

What we read today that Jesus speaks is not confusing. It is pretty clear. He reads from the scroll of Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1 to be exact) and then he sits down and matter-of-factly states, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus essentially says, ‘Isaiah is talking about me. That and this is who I am.’

This year we are going to be going through a Visioning process to discern who we are as The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. What our passions are, what our calling is, how we get to live out our faith and service to those around us. We get to discern – together – what makes Redeemer, Redeemer.

As we prepared for the leadup of this visioning process folks on council and in leadership here asked me what, ‘I thought’ about it. And, I’m excited about it. Mostly because it will help us identify who we are by what we are.

We – especially in organizations and communities – have a bad habit of telling people who we are by what we are not. In fact, if someone asked you, “Oh, what’s a Lutheran?” There is a very good chance that a typical response would be, “Well, it’s sort of like being Catholic, but not quite.”

Not that identifying as a Catholic is bad – it certainly isn’t – but, there is so much more to being who we are than just telling people who we are not. It would be as if people asked Jesus, ‘who are you?’ and his response would be, “well, I’m kind of like Moses, but not really like Moses.”

But, in this moment – Jesus’ beginning of his ministry – he states that who he is – what is fulfilled in him – is the one who brings good news to the poor, proclaims release to those who are captive, recovers the sight of the blind, and lets the oppressed go free.

That’s who Jesus is. And as we read throughout Luke’s Gospel, he lives into those words; fully and completely. Lifting up those who others have cast aside because they aren’t wealthy, or aren’t like others, or are pushed down and to the side by the majority. Jesus stands with those people. And in turn welcomes us all to see one another as full and complete in the sight of God. Calling those who have an abundance – wealth, life, food, and more – to care for those who are without so they too can live fully and whole. Then they too can share God’s love with those around them as well.

Jesus brings all to equal level – which means some are brought up, and others (in the eyes of the world) are brought down. Where no one is ‘more important’ than the other.

We see that explained more fully in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians as he explains to that community of faith that we are all one body in Christ. We can’t all be one thing, we can’t shun one aspect of the community away, just as a body cannot be a single entity or cast and cut off one part. When one part of our body hurts, the rest of our body knows it. Paul calls us to live into our community of faith in the same way. When one part of the community is hurting, the rest know it and provide care to that one.

And our community is not just limited to those gathered within these walls, but our community includes all those who are loved and chosen by God – everyone. All people. We listen, we care, we serve with and for, we act to bring about and share God’s love and mercy with them all.

We work in conjunction and unison with one another to bring about God’s glory, love, mercy, and forgiveness to the world. We see that evident in the story of God’s people as told in Nehemiah as they fall down in worship as God’s book is read, and after that moment they are sent to share what they have with those who have nothing and to rejoice in God’s goodness shown to them and the world.

So, what would Jesus do? How do we live into what Jesus would do?

This part of Luke’s gospel gives a pretty good and clear insight to who Jesus is and what Jesus would do.

Bring good news to the poor. Proclaim release to the captives. Recover the sight of the blind. Let the oppressed go free.

That is fulfilled in Jesus.

Jesus calls us into that ministry as well through his life, death, and resurrection. As we discern this coming year on who and what we are as a people and community of faith, let us see how we too can live into and participate in Jesus’ ministry as we bring good news, release those who are captive, recover the sight of the blind, and let the oppressed go free.

That’s what Jesus said he would do, let’s join in with Jesus and bring God’s glory to forefront of our community and world. Amen.

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