Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“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.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus begins his ministry by telling us what his purpose is. His purpose is to bring freedom to everyone. Jesus did not limit his love to the best people in society. Jesus did not care about ethnicity, age, gender, social status, or anything else. He loved us all the same he made no exceptions. Jesus came to rescue something that is very valuable to him which is humanity. Jesus came to rescue a part of him. Quakers have the phrase “that of God in everyone” Which I have always tied to the creation of the Earth.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them Genesis 1:26-27
So yes even the prostitudes have that of God, the Samaritan woman too, the tax collector, the Roman centurion, the Jewish teacher of the law, the leppers, and even Saul the church persecuter. We will be looking a few examples of the ministry of Jesus.
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
This woman was caught in adultery she deserved to die by law in Exodus 20:14 we find that the law said “You shall not commit adultery” but Jesus saw that this woman was valuable to him and Jesus in his great love decided to give a chance. Regardless of the crime that this woman had commited Jesus saw that in her was that of God. Another criminal that Jesus loved was the thief on the cross, eventhough the world had condemned him Jesus did not.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Again another person that broke the law. One of the ten commandments is “You shall not steal.” Regardless of his crime and although the world had condemned him Jesus did not. Jesus loved this man that was created by him in his image, there was that of God in him aswell. The last example we will be looking at is about a man that in our human eyes was worst than any of the two examples that we examined. He delighted in the killing of the early Christians. This man was Saul of Tarsus, the early Christians were afraid of him. Saul of Tarsus hated Christians. He made it his goal to capture, then bring Christians to public trial and execution. Saul was present when the first Christian martyr (named Stephen) was killed by an angry mob.
At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. And Saul approved of their killing him.On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
Later on we see that Saul himself testify of him persecuting the church.
I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
But no human being is so bad, so criminal that Jesus can not rescue her or him.
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
Jesus appeared to Saul later Paul. If Paul who was a terorizer pharisee persecutor of the early church and The Light Jesus literally overcame him. Then Osama bin Laden the man that many of us were afraid of, the man that harmed our nation, the man responsible for many deaths around the world. He also qualified for the inmense love of Jesus. For that reason we can not celebrate his assasination although he was responsible for many more deaths just like Saul was. Yet he was another person that had that of God in him and we killed him. No darkness is more powerful than The Light.
“While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” John 9:5
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5
As Christians our duty is to go out into the world and let them know that they are precious in Jesus’ eyes. It does not matter how unworthy and criminal their actions have been. There is one that has come to recuperate the precious treasure that had been lost and that one is Jesus. This is the foundation of Quakerism, George Fox said:
Now the Lord God opened to me by his invisible power that every man was enlightened by the divine light of Christ and I saw it shine through all and that they that believed in it came out of condemnation to the light of life and became the children of it … that the manifestation of the Spirit of God was given to every man to profit withal.
Quakers did not discover anything new, they were just going back to foundation of Christianity that had been forgotten. John Woolman also spoke of this:
Our gracious Creator cares and provides for all his creatures. His tender mercies are over all his works, and so far as his love influences our minds, so far we become interested in his workmanship and feel a desire to take hold of every opportunity to lessen the distresses of the afflicted and increase the happiness of the creation.
Jesus is ready to answer that of God in everyone.