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JESUSMISSION MANIFESTO

Read­ing Time: 9 minutes

(Ref. Texts: Neh 8:2–6.8–10; 1Cor 12:12–30; Luke 1:1–4; 4:14–21)

A mis­sion state­ment is not some­thing you write overnight… But fun­da­ment­ally, your mis­sion state­ment becomes your con­sti­tu­tion, the sol­id expres­sion of your vis­ion and val­ues. It becomes the cri­terion by which you meas­ure everything else in your life” (Steph­en Covey).

Introduction

No one takes up any pro­ject without first of all, con­sid­er­ing what it will take to real­ise such pro­ject (cf. Luke 14:28–30). The organ respons­ible for the con­duc­tion of elec­tions in Niger­ia (INEC), stip­u­lates that polit­ic­al parties in Niger­ia can begin their cam­paigns from Novem­ber 18, 2018 and Decem­ber 1, 2018 for the Pres­id­en­tial and Nation­al Assembly and for the Gov­ernor­ship and State House of Assembly. Hence­forth, polit­ic­al parties are free to make known to the popu­lace their pro­gram and what they plan to if and when they win the elec­tions. Often, these mani­fes­tos are unreal­ist­ic and far from the actu­al needs of the people. Fol­low­ing the his­tory of polit­ic­al activ­it­ies in Niger­ia, once they win elec­tions, polit­ic­al parties tend to for­get the things they said and prom­ised the masses dur­ing their cam­paigns. This atti­tude makes them imma­ture and irre­spons­ible. Gen­er­ally, when a per­son assumes an office, he/she usu­ally reads out how he/she wants to achieve the desired goal. This is exactly what Jesus did in this Sunday Gos­pel read­ing. He presen­ted and still presents to the read­ers his mani­festo, his mis­sion state­ment, his program.

Since many have under­taken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been ful­filled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the begin­ning were eye­wit­nesses and ser­vants of the word. I too decided, after invest­ig­at­ing everything care­fully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excel­lent Theo­philus, so that you may know the truth con­cern­ing the things about which you have been instruc­ted” (Luke 1:1–4). At the begin­ning of the Gos­pel accord­ing to Luke, the author did some­thing won­der­ful and worthy of emu­la­tion. He recog­nized, acknow­ledged and praised the work of those who pre­ceded him. This is a vir­tue and qual­ity many people in author­ity do not pos­sess. The vir­tue of recog­ni­tion and continuity.

Many people feel inferi­or that they can­not recog­nize the good work done by those who pre­ceded them and from whom they are suc­ceed­ing. This is too bad. They behave as if those whom they took over from nev­er made a single achieve­ment. All they do is to keep con­demning and cri­ti­ciz­ing their pre­de­cessors. Those who behave this way are intel­lec­tu­ally and spir­itu­ally bank­rupt. They have noth­ing to offer. They have no plan. They have no vis­ion. There­fore, all they do is to focus on their pre­de­cessors. They can­not utter a word without men­tion­ing them, con­demning all they did. This is not funny. This defect is found in many civil and reli­gious lead­ers. As I said before, it is a sign of spir­itu­al poverty and inferi­or­ity com­plex. No mat­ter how little, we must recog­nize the work of oth­ers. If the per­son who pre­ceded you did not do well in a par­tic­u­lar aspect, then, improve on what he/she did. That is why you have been placed in that office. Be a doing type, not a talk­ing type. Be focused and do not make your pre­de­cessor your mani­festo. Be matured! Be a lead­er who leads, not a ruler who com­plains and steals.

Luke 4:16–20 is both a mis­sion state­ment and a vis­ion state­ment. A mis­sion state­ment because it states why Jesus came and a vis­ion state­ment because it states what Jesus wants to accom­plish dur­ing his earthly mis­sion. The Nigeri­an rul­ing class lacks both mis­sion state­ment and vis­ion state­ment. Even many reli­gious lead­ers have no mis­sion and vis­ion state­ments. What is your own mis­sion and vis­ion statements?

Who is Theophilus?

The ded­ic­a­tion, which Luke pre­fixes to his Two volumes (cf. also Acts 1:1) fol­lows the pat­tern of Greek writers of his time. The author presents him­self in third per­son, after those that were “wit­nesses from the begin­ning” (cf. Luke 1:2) and after those who have attemp­ted present­ing a nar­ra­tion foun­ded on paradōs­is (tra­di­tion). Luke dis­tin­guishes him­self from the eye wit­nesses and gives for cer­tain the exist­ence of a tra­di­tion and a doc­u­ment­a­tion of the things that happened in the past. Fur­ther­more, he declares to have stud­ied and fol­lowed everything “accur­ately” before giv­ing his own account con­cern­ing what happened. As could be seen, Luke ded­ic­ates the Gos­pel and the Acts of the Apostles to Theo­philus (Greek: Theo­philos). We must study everything and make adequate invest­ig­a­tion before jump­ing into con­clu­sions. Do not con­clude any­thing because you heard it from your so-called friend. What if he/she is not biased and have some interest in the issue? Again, do not judge or con­clude because your enemy or someone who is not sym­path­et­ic to you said it. What if he/she is say­ing the truth? Be wise! There are series of dis­cus­sions and debates con­cern­ing the iden­tity of Theo­philus. Who is or who was this Theo­philus? There are many and con­tra­dict­ory pro­pos­als. How­ever, if we take into con­sid­er­a­tion the Greek mean­ing of the name, we find out it means “the beloved of God.” This means that the Gos­pel is addressed to every­one. Any­one who takes up this Gos­pel to read is auto­mat­ic­ally the beloved of God.

Luke under­lines that the same spir­it of God, which Jesus received dur­ing his bap­tism (cf. Luke 3:22), and which led him to the wil­der­ness (cf. Luke 4:1–2), is the same spir­it that brought him back to Galilee after his retreat (tempta­tions). It is this Holy Spir­it that will accom­pany him through­out his mis­sion. Jesus suc­ceeded in his mis­sion because he sub­mit­ted him­self to the guid­ance of the Holy Spir­it. Many of us fail and espe­cially many reli­gious lead­ers fail because they refuse to be guided by the spir­it of God. They depend entirely on their mere human capa­city which is noth­ing if and when not placed in the hands of God.

Jesus’ mission manifesto

And he entered, as his cus­tom was, on the Sab­bath, in the Syn­agogue and he stood up to read and he was giv­en the book/scroll of proph­et Isai­ah and unrolling the book he found the place where it was writ­ten the Spir­it of the Lord is upon me, for this he has anoin­ted me: to bring the Good News to the poor he has sent me, to pro­claim liberation/freedom to the pris­on­ers to the blind the recov­ery of sight, to send the oppressed away/free, to pro­claim the year accept­able to the Lord. He rolled up the book. And gave it back to the attend­ant and sat down” (Luke 4:16b-20).

Jesus’ mis­sion was and still is: to bring the Good News to the poor, to pro­claim liberation/freedom to the pris­on­ers, to the blind the recov­ery of sight, to send the oppressed away/free, to pro­claim the year accept­able to the Lord. Al Jesus did dur­ing his mis­sion, was to ensure the respons­ib­il­ity entrus­ted unto him by his Fath­er was brought to a suc­cess­ful end, not­with­stand­ing the obstacles and the oppos­i­tions by the reli­gious and polit­ic­al lead­ers. Luke 4:16–20 is taken from the book of Proph­et Isai­ah 61:1–2a and 58:6. It is with these pas­sages that Jesus presents him­self at the begin­ning of his mis­sion. There is a curi­os­ity that needs to be men­tioned. In his cita­tion of the text of Isai­ah 61:1–2a, Jesus omit­ted verse 2b. Why? Isai­ah 61:2b talks about the pro­clam­a­tion of the day of ven­geance of our God. Jesus omit­ting it means it was not part of his mis­sion. Yes, ven­geance was not part of Jesus’ mission.

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