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.”
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:17-21)
Jesus' ministry was to proclaim the good news and set people free, yet hatred and persecution followed Him throughout it all. He spoke the truth and did the works and miracles the Father told Him to and for some people it resulted in believing and being set free, and for others it resulted in a desire to murder Him.
In our life of following Jesus here, we can’t expect any different. If the world hated Jesus, it certainly is going to hate us, just as He told us in John 15. Throughout Jesus' ministry, He had to dodge people seeking to kill Him, and ultimately gave Himself into their hands when His time had come. BUT through all that hatred and persecution, Jesus was fulfilling Scripture and the mission the Father sent Him on.
Could you imagine if Jesus had decided what to do based on the people seeking to kill Him instead of the Father’s will? The ramification of that would have literally been death to the whole world. Thankfully for us, He walked through His life on earth with a discipline to spend time with the Father and do and say whatever the Father told Him to.
Fulfilling our Purpose
Now we don’t have the weight of the world’s salvation on our shoulders the way Jesus did (Thank you, Lord, for that!), but we do have a purpose in this life and God calls us to serve in specific ways, and our actions to obey or disobey will have its own consequences.
Let me ask you this:
- Are you willing to be ridiculed, hated, and persecuted for Jesus?
- If it ever came to it, are you resolved to die for His Name sake?
These are heavy things to think about, and for those living in free areas such as America it isn’t something that’s front and center in life the way it is to our fellow brothers and sisters in places with intense persecution of the saints. Regardless of how prevalent it is, we must resolve to stay faithful to our Faithful God and Savior no matter the cost.
What’s the Purpose?
Why even bother to think upon these things? If you were going to be in a boxing match one day, let’s say a year from now. Would you wait until you’re entering the ring to start weight training and sparring? That seems crazy, right? Of course you wouldn’t wait, you would train from the moment you knew you’d be in that match! Well, Paul did warn us that “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). So if you’ve never read this and maybe never faced any kind of persecution yet, here’s the news that your boxing match is coming and it’s time to prepare!
This doesn’t mean that when persecution comes you’ll be immune to it or you’ll somehow not be physically, emotionally, or spiritually affected. You don’t even need to memorize speeches of what you’ll say when the time comes, the Holy Spirit has you covered there just like Jesus said in Mathew, “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (Matthew 10:19-20) However, it does mean that you’ll be prepared to suffer, and even die, for Christ’s sake if it comes to that, because you’ll have been training and renewing your mind.
Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi has such encouraging and mind preparing words to this topic, but I’ll leave you with these couple verses:
As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:20-21)