Scripture Reading: Luke 4:1-21

Jesus will soon begin His ministry on earth. So the timing is right, and the devil is determined to try him. Satan takes this opportunity to try and twist Jesus’ coming ministry to fit his own purposes. Perhaps he might be able to tempt Jesus to misuse His power. Jesus has been fasting for 40 days. He is hungry, physically weak, and as vulnerable as the Son of God can be. But, despite all of that, we know that there is no way the devil can change the beautiful purpose that God has ordained for Jesus’ time on earth.

Although Jesus’ return to Nazareth might have been some time after His temptation in the wilderness, Luke chooses to place those stories side-by-side in his gospel. What a contrast between the “ministry” Satan tries to tempt Jesus into and the very opposite that Jesus reveals as His calling!

Jesus stands in the temple and reads from the scroll of Isaiah. To the people, He is reading a prophecy. To Jesus, He is proclaiming His mission. It is a glorious declaration of who He is and what He has come to do. Jesus is strong in the Spirit, anointed with purpose, chosen for ministry, and burning for justice.

Every word Jesus speaks points to so much more than the “gracious words” the people hear Him speak. He is praised for His teaching, known for His miracles, yet there does not seem to be one person in the temple who sees the heart of God opened before them like Isaiah’s scroll.

Jesus has come for rich and poor, for the captive, the ill, and the oppressed. Jesus is on the margins, even in his home town, and He will bring His purposes to the margins as well.

It is impossible to try and disconnect the miracles and teaching of Jesus from His heart for justice. At every turn, at every miracle, His words and actions are shaped by a desire to make things right, to reconcile, to restore.

He speaks Beatitudes that undercut Jewish legalism. He confronts the powerful. He heals both a Jewish leper and a Canaanite’s daughter. He restores dignity to the outcast demon -possessed man and pauses for a life-changing conversation with a Samaritan woman.

He is revered as a Rabbi, but is rejected in his home town. He pays His taxes from the mouth of a fish, but from His mouth comes a warning about economic injustice where the poor are uncared for. He redefines and expands what it means to be family, and recreates community from the margins out.

He tells parables that turn upside down society and the way it works. Jesus’ teachings and miracles become living proof of a better way.

Let Jesus’ better way be an inspiration for the ministry of deacons. Let it free you to be the deacons you are called and chosen to be – serving within your gifts and following your passions and compassion.

Seek to restore and to reconcile. Take each act of charity, relief and mercy and look deeper to see if there is a way to make things right. Do not be content, wherever possible, to give help without your time, your listening ear, and your love.

So, do ministry. Do justice. Love always. And pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit to flood your hearts until you are overflowing with love and a passion for His justice in your community and in this world.

Slightly edited:  http://diaconalministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Devotion-Set-2.pdf

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