“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
This, of course, is Jesus reading Isaiah 61:1-2 at the time he began his ministry, although interestingly he left off the last half of verse 2 “and the day of vengeance of our God.” I suspect this ‘omission’ was a deliberate lesson (though missed) that Jesus as Messiah was proclaiming Jubilee but not the political insurrection for which Israel hoped.
These verses have been important to me for most of my life, though their import has shifted somewhat in my mind. When my parents first gave me a little New Testament of my own, I was probably only about four years old. Though I have no memory of the content, I clearly remember asking them, repeatedly, to help me find “Luke 4.” No idea why, but I wanted to find it. This memory came back to me one day while I was in high school, so I went and looked it up out of curiosity. By that point I had a pretty clear idea in my mind that I was being called to be a missionary doctor, so I took this as a reinforcement of that call.
Thirty-plus years on, I have somewhat of a changed perspective on calling, not least because I’m pretty sure if God calls one to something and one’s willing to answer, he also enables that path. Mine’s been rather different than I anticipated (this is not a complaint because I’m largely content; it’s just an observation). But I remain drawn to Jesus’ description of his own call. In part this is because of the powerful implications of Jubilee, but it’s also because I think the specifics–good news to the poor, liberty to the captive, sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed–are a pretty good “to do” list for Jesus’ followers. It may not have been a specific calling for me, but I have no doubt it’s a general calling for the church.