The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
— Luke 4:18-19, New International Version
These words from Jesus are part of a powerful passage from Luke, delivered on what seemed to be an ordinary Sabbath. After 40 days in the wilderness being tempted by Satan, Jesus had returned to Nazareth where He was raised. Word had spread about Him as he traveled. In His hometown, Jesus was doing what He would normally do. He went to the synagogue and read Scripture. The words from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah would be familiar to those in attendance, but at this reading, Jesus, anointed by the Holy Spirit, proclaims Himself as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. In what began as routine worship, this extraordinary moment changed everything.
This was not what people had anticipated in seeking the Messiah. Thanks be to God, His ways are not routine or predictable. Turning the norms upside down, Jesus declares that those overlooked will be uplifted and that what was deemed damaged and bound shall be healed and freed. He brings good news for the poor, the enslaved, and the oppressed.
He then proclaimed “the year of the Lord’s favor.” The Hebrew word for favor is ratson. It also means “goodwill and acceptance.” It’s not the kind of favor we owe as repayment for a kindness or the fulfillment of a debt. It is not something we can earn. Like grace, God freely favors us because He loves us. His sacrifice and love redeem us.
In response, we are called to extraordinary acts of love. We are fortunate at Habitat that we get to be a part of the outpouring of God’s love around the world. We get to proclaim the good news in ways that are transformational.
As we journey through the season of Lent, may we look for the extraordinary in the routine. May we not allow our perspective to blind us to the needs of others. May we anticipate the Lord’s favor with hearts full of gratitude.
Gracious Lord, we humbly thank You for Your grace and favor. Inspire us this Lenten season. Grant us eyes to see, ears to hear, minds to perceive, and hearts to feel the extraordinary ways You are present in our lives. May we seek to serve you and those You call us to serve. May we love in big and grace-filled ways. Show us how, in Your name, we can bind up the brokenhearted, free the oppressed and honor those overlooked. In Jesus’ precious and holy name, Amen.
- How can I seek God in the ordinary? What blinds me to these opportunities to see His face and works?
- What does it mean to live in God’s favor? How does that change the way I engage with the world and those around me?
Lee Ann Arnason is an application analyst at Habitat for Humanity International. She is based in Hickory, North Carolina.