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The spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Luke 4:18

I was born in Nazareth and for most my life I have lived in it. You may recall the observation in the Bible that suggested that most people thought not many good things came out of little places like Nazareth. (John 1:46) It was of course, from the name of this town that Jesus was called the Nazarene. (Matthew 2:23) There were two important incidents in the life of Jesus that happened in this town: The annunciation—the angel Gabriel informed the Virgin Mary that she will bear the Messiah Jesus, and the inauguration of Jesus’ ministry that took place in the synagogue in Nazareth.

It was there in the Nazareth synagogue where Jesus read the prophetic passage from the book of Isaiah 61:1-2. This is the opening declaration of Jesus of His call and ministry. There are three key elements in this simple story. The first from the verses that precede the reading of the prophecy; a second from the prophecy itself; and the last from what Jesus told His listeners in the verses that follow.

  1. Nurturing Habits: “He went into the synagogue, as was his custom.” v. 16

This blessed custom of entering the synagogue regularly and being in the home of his father goes back to when Jesus was 12 years old. We recall how during the feast of the Passover of that year that Mary and Joseph looked for him among the multitudes but could not find him. And how finally they found him sitting between the teachers of the temple asking them questions. This should be our passion too: to go regularly to the house of the Lord and learn His word. We should not be so absorbed in our heavy professional loads that our priorities become distorted or we do not have time with the people of God in His house to serve the Lord. Even in the midst of pressured lives, there are habits which reflect and sustain our core commitments. Here we are encouraged to develop a consistent pattern of worship and assembling. There are many such “customs” we must cultivate—time with our families, private devotions, times of rest—but here we are also reminded of one high priority—the habit of faithful worship.

  1. Liberating Ministry: “…to proclaim freedom for prisoners.”

The immediate meaning of “prisoners” is obviously those behind bars, but it has a broader meaning, illustrated in our Lord’s ministry: The liberating, setting free, of all those who are caught, trapped, enslaved by their sins, their histories, their guilt—imprisoned by sickness, lust, a bad habit, the past, bitterness, broken relations, old hurts, fears, guilt or shame—this list is almost endless. Jesus proclaims liberty to all these. As lawyers, the Lord has given us keys and tools to serve within the system of the country and to open for our clients doors that are now shut. Our profession often puts us in the midst of the conflicts and fears of our clients. We deal with people whose circumstance evidence a kind of bondage and prison—sometimes literal, often spiritual. We surely have the flexibility to help “free from prison” our client and even possibly the opponent. To minister effectively as liberators from prison we should learn from the Son by experiencing that ourselves. If our souls are free from the bondage of sin and that is evident in our lives then it ought to have a meaningful impact on the lives of those that are in contact with us.

  1. A Global Gospel: Luke 4:24-27

After revealing to them that the prophecy that He read is being fulfilled in him they wanted Jesus to perform miracles but they lacked faith in him. Instead, Jesus reminded them of two foreigners from the Old Testament as two examples of faith, and that made the Jews in this Nazarene synagogue furious. They were self-righteous and they could not bear the idea that the good news is for everybody. We often fall into this trap of self-righteousness. Some traps that create this illusion of self-righteousness: are: wealth, supposedly cultural “superiority,” heritage (even religious!), intelligence, strict way of life, etc. May the Lord help us have openness and humbleness, to love all races and people and look for their welfare as we would like them to do to us. The Good Samaritan parable suggests the same spirit.
Botrus Mansour
Nazareth

– This article comes from AI’s “No Higher Calling,” a devotional for lawyers.

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