First Flint Seventh-day Adventist Church

MISSION AT NAZARETH

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MISSION AT NAZARETH
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When Jesus stood on Mount Tabor with Moses and Elijah at His side, He appeared in all His glory. The disciples looked on with excitement, thinking that Elijah had arrived to announce the coming kingdom with Jesus as Israel's king.

But before the crown would be the cross. And before the cross would be a mission that Israel couldn't understand. Nowhere was that more apparent than at Nazareth. Only 5 miles from Mount Tabor, Nazareth is the largest Arab city in Israel today. But in the days of Christ, it was a plain and despised village. Its citizens were known for their wicked-ness, so much so that when Philip told   Nathaniel that he found the Messiah who was Jesus of Nazareth, Nathaniel replied: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46)

Jesus had grown up in this village and was known by all his neighbors as the carpenter's son. They knew about His miracles and how the multitudes were flocking to hear His sermons. But this was the first time that Jesus had come to Nazareth since He laid down His father's tools. From that day forward, He had been all over Galilee "teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease" (Matthew 4:23). 

Today He was back home "where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read" (Luke 4:16). 

"When a rabbi was present at the synagogue, he was expected to deliver the sermon, and any Israelite might be expected to give the reading from the prophets. Upon this Sabbath, Jesus was requested to take part in the service. 'And there was delivered unto Him a roll of the prophet Isaiah.' Luke 4:17. The scripture which He read was one that was understood as referring to the Messiah" (Desire of Ages, p. 236). The passage was found in Isaiah 61.
 
 
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
because He has anointed Me
to preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound,
to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.

 
Here was the mission of Christ in capsule form. He had come as a "reliever of the oppressed, a liberator of the captives, a healer of the afflicted, restoring sight to the blind and revealing to the world the light of truth" (ibid, p. 237). But the news wasn't very welcome. The people of Nazareth didn't like to think they were in chains or in bondage to anyone. Jesus was talking as if they needed to be delivered from evil or brought out of darkness into God's light.

That wasn't the kind of Messiah they'd been waiting for. They wanted a conquering king who would drive out the Romans and make their nation great again. But the mission of Christ was one of revival and reformation. He came to heal, forgive and bring overcoming power.

His mission is still the same. For the gospel embraces our total transformation from sin. "It was [Christ's] mission to bring to men complete restoration. He came to give them health and peace and perfection of character" (The Ministry of Healing, p. 17).

Jesus never separated healing from soulwinning. He knew there was a close connection between our bodies and our minds. He knew that both needed to be healed and restored. "Since the mind and the soul find expression through the body, both mental and spiritual vigor are in great degree dependent upon physical strength and activity; whatever promotes physical health promotes the development of a strong mind and well-balanced character. Without health, no one can as distinctly understand or completely fuflfill his obligations to himself, to his fellow-being, or to his Creator. Therefore, the health should be as faithfully guarded as the character" (Education, p. 195).

As we follow Jesus to Jerusalem, He is calling us to a fuller mission--to bring healing to both the body ad the soul. That's why we are walking with Christ to grow strong in both health and faith. And when we make Christ's mission our own, the gospel will move forward like wildfire and "be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14). Let's move forward with Jesus, working as He worked, to bring total healing to men and women and boys and girls.

 
FOR DEEPER BLESSINGS
* Read Luke 4:1-30
* Read Desire of Ages, pp. 236-243