ODJ: first words

September 22, 2015 

READ: Luke 4:14-21 

The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor (v.18).

In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln said these words near the end of the American Civil War as part of his second inaugural speech: “Let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Lincoln’s words were an attempt to set his nation on a path of reconciliation and healing, a path that—sadly—would be cut short. But this is what inaugural addresses do: they reveal the tone and the direction of new leadership.

In the book of Luke, Jesus made His own inauguration speech—one that didn’t inaugurate an earthly government but the kingdom of God (4:18-21). And his first words, taken from Isaiah 61, were about freeing prisoners, healing the blind and releasing the oppressed. These are the priorities of the kingdom: setting people free, healing and justice.

But it’s not just the words of Jesus that reflect this. After being visited by the angel Gabriel, Jesus’ mother, Mary, sang that God lifts up the humble and fills the hungry with good things (1:52-53). And John the Baptist said something similar in Luke 3—that to prepare for Jesus’ coming the people should live generously and honestly (vv.10-13).

—Peter Chin

365-day-plan: Matthew 26:57-75

Read Exodus 22:22-24 to see how far back our calling to the marginalised goes, and how passionate God is about it. 
What will it look like for you to make compassion and justice a priority? Why do we sometimes consider acts of compassion and justice to be secondary as we live out our faith?