Today's Lectionary Text
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,
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.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’” And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
June 1974, I placed my hand on a red leather Bible opened to this scripture as I was ordained elder. Through the years many clergy at their ordination have chosen this passage as a compass for their ministry. Additionally, laity and clergy alike have looked to this passage as a personal mission statement as a disciple of Jesus. Finding meaning in the same words Jesus claimed to affirm his identity and ministry.
Let’s recognize several points in verses 18-21 to inspire us in our discipleship. First, the Spirit of the Lord is “upon” me (us). The Holy Spirit is not a commodity to possess, nor a status to claim. It’s a power and presence that overshadows and effects us, which therefore requires us to “pay attention” to our lives.
Second, the Spirit “anoints” us. This biblical word “anoint” means to be blessed with Divine influence, presence and purpose. As disciples of Jesus, by the Spirit’s presence in our lives, we are motivated towards a higher sacred purpose and identity. We are influenced to live a life not merely for ourselves, our happiness and fulfillment in our personal relationship with Christ. We are called to join a movement of God’s purposes for the world.
Third, this purpose is all about others. Note all the action verbs in verses 18 and 19. Isn’t it awesome that the Spirit’s influence on our lives “naturally” moves us towards the needs of others for healing, hope, release, perspective and freedom.
Today let the reading of this scripture renew God’s influence on our lives. Let us pay attention to where, who and how God is calling us to be good news to those around us. And to always speak words of hope and grace to everyone we meet.
-Rev. Rick Saylor, Retired, Kansas City
Clergy and congregational Coach
Prayer for Reflection
O Living Spirit. Your presence seeks to influence us towards a mighty purpose of living as a disciple of Jesus. May we pay attention today as you call us to respond to the needs of others as agents of Your good news. And so it is!
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