And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
Luke 4:16-21 (King James Version)
In recent years, we’ve heard the term “Divine Appointment” in Evangelical Christianity. This phrase refers to God’s giving you some appointment for you to meet-usually to act as a witness for Him/Her. This usually involves you meeting some person or going to some place (usually under the Holy Spirit’s guidance) for your appointment.
Here we see Jesus back in his boyhood home of Nazareth after his days in the wilderness. He had just picked up the prophetic mantle after his cousin, John the Baptist was tossed in prison by Herod. And we saw Jesus choosing his disciples to follow him and spread his teachings. Now Jesus was at the local synagogue on the Sabbath for worship. However, this was a particular Sabbath. Jesus stood up to read from the ancient Scriptures at the synagogue; and when he opened the book it came to the writings of the prophet Isaiah.
It was right there that day Jesus just described his “Divine Appointment” in the above verses. We saw Jesus do those very things during his years on Earth. Even as Jesus described his appointment, he was met with resistance from those who “knew” him in following verses (verses 22-24). And when Jesus used the example of Elijah’s ministries being done for Gentiles outside of Israel and tied it into the present, the people in the synagogue got angry and tried to kill him (verses 25-30). To me, this reaction to Jesus by his very countrymen is very telling. I believe the people felt that Jesus was challenging them and trying to nudge them out of their churchy comfort zones to something more immediate; and said people tried to put Jesus “in his place.” However, when Jesus pretty much told the truth about the people using Elijah as an example and cutting into their hearts, the people attempted to kill him and try to silence him.
Whilst on our Lenten journey, I wonder how many of us would take both Jesus’s and Isaiah’s lead? How many of us would risk stepping out of our comfort zones (under the Spirit’s guidance) to preach the gospel to the poor (in spirit); to heal the brokenhearted (God knows there are many); to preach liberation to the physically and spiritually incarcerated; to restore the sight (enlighten) the spiritually blind; and to set at liberty the bruised (or to free those who have been abused-especially the spiritually abused)?
Also, how many of us are willing to run counter to those who are “comfortably numb” (per Pink Floyd) in their religion as we follow the above lead? How many of us are willing to risk the anger and ridicule of those who supposedly “knew us from way back when”- including friends and loved ones? Are we willing to have our reputations and relationships “killed” so that we may be life to those who need it the most? Who is willing to be a “dangerous” and “over-proof” Christian (follower of Christ) who’s not content to get off on the porn of churchianity that teases the heart yet not fills it by willing to reach out to those many of his “christian” pals and relatives talk a good game about reaching, but don’t.
Our Divine Appointments are not about getting bodies into churches as contemporary fundagelical churchianity talks about by limp “witnessing”. Nope. It’s about being like Jesus and meeting people at their need-regardless if they come to church or not. It’s about standing up with and for the marginalized. It’s to reach out to those many “good church folks” forgotten about. It’s not about plastering your “faith” on Facebook and Instagram, but living it by reaching out to those who need a comforting and encouraging word. It’s not about “proving” your religion, but being led by the Spirit.
That, my friends, is The Divine Appointment.
Prayer: God of our weary years and our silent tears, Thou who hast led us all the way. Lead us as you led the prophets of old to reach out to the marginalized of our world. Empower us to risk stepping out of our comfort zones to preach the gospel to the poor in spirit; to heal the brokenhearted among us; to preach liberation to the physically and spiritually incarcerated; to restore the sight to the spiritually blind; and to set at liberty the bruised and abused. In Your Name, Amen.