And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and 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 proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Luke 4:16-19 (ESV)
I love this passage and the Isaiah 61 text Jesus was reading from that day. Through this Scripture reading, Jesus unfolds his ministry. It is a timeless statement that is needed as much now as it was in the day that He read it. It is a course of action that has framed Lutheran Indian Ministries for years, leading Native Americans to the freedom found only through Jesus Christ.
We live in a broken world that seems to break a little more every day, and that heartbreaking brokenness is seen in our reservation communities. The levels of unemployment, poverty, addiction, abuse, and suicide are often much higher on reservations than in the general population. It is these places that Jesus is speaking about and why Native Ministry is so important.
Jesus brings very real hope to the impoverished. He brings freedom for the individual trapped by the chains of addiction and abuse. He opens our self-absorbed and blinded eyes. He sets the depressed and suicidal person free. He proclaims the year of the Lord’s favor, announcing that his ministry permanently opens the year of Jubilee forever.
Historically and biblically, in the year of Jubilee, debts were canceled, and property was returned to its true owner. The enslaved were freed, and everyone was given an opportunity to enjoy a new beginning.
This is a powerful picture of Christ’s work for all of us. We no longer need to practice the year of Jubilee, because as saved sons and daughters, we have already been released from our slavery to sin and the devil. We have already been promised our eternal reward in heaven, and we have already been given our new beginning in Jesus’ resurrection.
This is what Native ministry is all about, announcing the eternal year of Jubilee to the people who need to hear that Jesus can lift them out of their broken world.
Lord, open my eyes to the hurting people before me. Give me the confidence to share your love and hope with them, today, telling them about your life, death, and resurrection that frees all people from the hurt in our world. Amen.
Rev. Winston Wilson (Cowlitz)
Neah Bay, Washington
Read & Reflect: March 27-April 1
Reflect: We have been forgiven of the greatest debt, the compounding of our sins against God and each other. Jesus wiped our slate clean by living a perfect life and paying the price for our sins. We cannot grant salvation, but we can forgive those who hurt us. Who do you need to forgive?
Read: Romans 6:19-23
Reflect: Our debt was paid with Jesus’ blood, and our forgiveness is a daily reality. We don’t owe anything for what we now receive—our eternal life and a relationship with our Lord. Instead, we are asked to “pay it forward,” to forgive and share the goodness of God’s grace with others. Who have you met recently that needs to know about God’s grace and His forgiveness?
Read: 1 Corinthians 1:18
Reflect: The cross divides the world. There are those who see the story of Jesus and call it foolish and those who call it powerful. Whichever side of the line you are on determines whether you are perishing or saved. Nobody wants to perish, but there are those who struggle to believe the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus to be the truth. The Holy Spirit works in our hearts to bring us to the side of salvation, and it is in this season of Lent that we look upon the cross with awe, and thank God for his forgiveness and love. Who do you know that is perishing? How can you share God’s love with them?
Reflect: If you could save yourself and gain righteousness by following the law of the Old Testament, Jesus’ death on the cross would have been foolish and wasteful. But God is not foolish. Jesus had to die and rise again. Now, our sinful nature must also be put to death, so Christ can live in us, bringing us to our new life in which we live by faith and not by law. Don’t let Jesus’ death and resurrection go to waste. What are you clinging to that does not reflect Christ living in you?
Read: 1 Peter 3:18-22
Reflect: Jesus’ death and resurrection were for all mankind. Jesus, the righteous, did what we, the unrighteous, cannot do. He left behind the flesh to be made alive in the Spirit, as we are all called to do when we follow Him. However, many people want only to be alive in the flesh, clinging to their earthly desires and never knowing peace. Pray for those in your life who are consumed by (or lost in) the world, that the Holy Spirit may guide them to the cross and the joy of the Resurrection.
Read: John 15:13-17, 1 John 3:16-18
Reflect: We are asked to act. Jesus gave his life to save us, and in thanksgiving and joy, we should be willing to do the same for the lost, to set aside our own plans and life to help those in need. Prayer is powerful and necessary, but we are also called to be Jesus’ hands and feet while on this earth. Jesus’ ministry did not end with His ascension; it was passed on to us to continue. The best way for us to show His love to those in need and hurting is “not with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” Listen to God’s calling for you. What is He asking you to act on? Which part of this broken world is He asking you to help fix?