Friday, November 07, 2014

Jesus’ Ministry Extended through the Community Agape Meal

On December 13, our church is planning to host a meal to which we will invite our friends and neighbors, and especially the poor of our cities. The co-leader of the prayer team, Carmen Gunderson, recently wrote a devotional for our church which calls us to prayer. I hope it blesses you as it did me. 

After being baptized, Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. He entered the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath and read the words from Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:17-19).

Then Jesus announced – “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled” (v. 21). As Jesus’ ministry unfolds in the Gospel of Luke, we witness Him preaching the good news to the poor, healing the sick, and forgiving sin. Then, Jesus calls and empowers the disciples to follow Him in this same ministry. And He told them of the suffering that would come through this ministry. “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day” (Luke 9:21). Then he said to them all: “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

Jesus weaves these truths through the parable He told while eating the Sabbath meal at the home of a prominent Pharisee. (Luke 14:1-14) After warning them against seeking the best place at the wedding banquet, He says: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). Then Jesus spoke directly to the Pharisee hosting the Sabbath meal, telling him that when he gives a banquet to invite those who are poor, maimed, lame, or blind. 

As we prepare for the Community Agape Meal on December 13th, may Jesus’ teachings guide our prayers. We pray that we would deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus through this event. May we humble ourselves as Jesus teaches. By His Spirit, may the poor and sick be invited to our banquet. May Jesus’ ministry prevail through our humble efforts for the expansion of His Kingdom.

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