1/21/07 Ep-3-C

“The Power of the Spirit”
Luke 4: 14-21

14Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. 16When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (NRSV)

n our text we hear that as Jesus began his public ministry even He depended upon “The Power of the Spirit.” If Jesus needed God’s Power then how much more do we? The result of his powerful preaching was that his tour of the synagogues around the Galilee region created quite a stir among the Jews. Verse 15 says he was, “…praised by everyone.” He had a new appeal and winsomeness that people responded to. That is, the people in surrounding towns were unusually drawn to Jesus, but those who had grown up with him and knew him as a carpenter’s son, stood back from him. And you can’t really blame them at this point. They were expecting far more from their long expected Savior. But Jesus repeated, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (21)

Then Jesus lingered and let them take it all in. The room was quiet. His friends and neighbors knew the extraordinary nature of Jesus’ claim, but it took them some time to process these explosive words.

Jesus’ longtime neighbors realized that there was something very different about the Jesus they knew. He had always read the Hebrew text well at Synagogue, but there seemed to be something improved in his preaching; he had a new confidence and demeanor. What could have gotten into him to make him so powerful? As we read on in Luke 4 we hear how his longtime synagogue friends turned on him when he implied that gentiles could be included in the promise that God would eventually save the Jews from destruction. A mob attempted to kill him but Jesus was able to escape from his former friends.  

The question that comes to us from this text, knowing that the later promise of Jesus to his followers was that they would also be blessed in a special way by the Power of the Spirit; is, How does the Spirit’s blessing to us different from the blessing that Jesus received?

Of course the power that God can give to us is not physical power or strength. Some of us remember “The World’s Strongest Man,” Paul Anderson, who was born in Toccoa, Georgia. In 1952 he won that title in Moscow. Later he won an Olympic Gold Medal in Australia. After his weight lifting career he was called by God into the ministry. His great calling was the establishment of  “The Paul Anderson Home for Boys” in Vidalia. His happiest days were spent sharing his empowering gift from the Spirit of God.   

The shared experience seems to be that the Spirit brings a higher love and dedication. It also opens our feelings and our souls to experience a deeper life.

Preaching Professor Fred Craddock tells of asking the poet Maya Angelou why she chose the medium of poetry to fight for her people’s equality. She replied that no one had ever asked her that; but as she thought about it she said, “Poetry goes to the heart.”

I feel that the most common result of a visit by the Spirit is a more sensitive soul. We come to trust our inner feelings and a new sense of self-assurance. It is excusable that some immerse themselves in their faith to the point that friends think that they have lost their sense of self.

Some say that the Spirit begins to lead believers to become more sensitive and compassionate. They begin to feel suffering in others and can become “Angels of Mercy,” in the lives of hurting people.

Jesus had the advantage of having benefited from an intense and structured school of study in the Synagogue, which was the school for all young people. He excelled and became a Rabbi, one who reads the scrolls in public and taught theology to others. His love, mercy and compassion are well documented in the gospels. Finally, He was willing to give up His life as a ransom for his friends.

But there is a deeper “Knowing” that Jesus gives to those who follow Him. John Wesley was about the best person that he could be in every way. His small group of friends sought holiness in their hearts and lives. The “Holy Club” structured themselves by strict rules. They were so methodical that students at Oxford University gave them the barb name, “Methodists.” However, later Wesley experienced the same Spirit of God in his heart that Jesus had experienced. No longer a slave to legalism, he was freed up to become one of the great ministers of all time. He learned to follow his soul in which God’s Spirit had found a home.

Having the Spirit within is the highest and the most precious experience of religion. America’s favorite poet Robert Frost helps us understand what it is like to have the Spirit.

“We dance round in a ring and suppose
But the Spirit sits in the middle and knows.”

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
1/21/07 Ep-3-C