Be True to God

Some people believe that purpose in this life is to be found in being true to yourself; that the highest calling is self-expression – to express yourself in whatever way feels right to you. And who better to determine what feels right to you than yourself? I mean, if the goal is to be true to yourself, then you’ve got this. You don’t need anyone else to tell you how to be true to yourself. Do you? And this self aggrandizing life-purpose has filtered into the church. There are some who profess to be followers of Christ who believe that Jesus taught us to be true to ourselves. But if that is the goal, then why do we even need Jesus? We can be true to ourselves all by ourselves thank you very much. So, if the goal is to be true to ourselves, then there is no need for the Bible, for God, for Jesus or for anything other than ourselves. This is starting to sound pretty lonely.

Sandwiched between the account of the temptation and Jesus’ rejection in his hometown of Nazareth there are these two verses (14 and 15) that tend to get passed over or stuck with the following or the preceding story. And even though these verses serve as a link between the two stories, there is something significant going on here that deserves our attention. When Jesus was baptized the Holy Spirit descended upon him. Then we are told that he was full of the Holy Spirit and led by the Spirit into the wilderness to face down the Devil. In the next section (16-30) Jesus will claim to be the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1 – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” In our passage we are told that Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. There is a theme flowing through these passages.

If anyone should just be true to themselves, it would be Jesus. After all, he is the Son of God – the Messiah, the fulfillment of all of man’s potential. But throughout the beginning of his mission, we see the Spirit of God descending upon him, filling him, leading him. We see him doing mission in the power of the Spirit. He is not being true to himself. He is operating by the will of God; he is tapping into the power of God; he is being true to God’s mission – not his own.

So, Jesus returns to Galilee. This can reference a trip to Jerusalem mentioned in the Gospel of John or it may mean that after being baptized; after having the Spirit come upon him; after facing down the devil – he comes back to mission. The baptism and spiritual show down with Satan were significant events that demonstrated Jesus’ complete reliance on his Father; a laying down of his rights; a refusal to walk the easy path. Having these life shaping events behind him, he embarks on ministry. And he embarks in the power of the Spirit. Not in his own power. Now, if this is true of the ideal man; the savior of mankind, then it ought to be true of us as well. It is not about me or you. It is about God; his Spirit; his will. No embarking without Spirit-power.

And it seems that initially his main mission was teaching in their synagogues. There has been some discussion about why Luke would refer to “their” synagogues as if he were not Jewish. The simplest answer is that “their” refers to the Galileans. His mission begins with teaching in Galilean synagogues; the gathering places of the faithful Jews; the place where they worshipped Yahweh and studied his word. We have an example of Jesus’ teaching in the next section, but that doesn’t mean we know what he always taught. It may have been as varied as the groups he was ministering to. The important thing is that he was teaching them in their gathering place. Jesus, by the power of the Spirit, went to them. The result? They were all glorifying him. This is probably does not imply any recognition of divinity. They are amazed and gushing with praise of this young man’s message.

Jesus did not come to this earth to be true to himself. I’m thinking if that were the case, there would be no cross event and wouldn’t that be sad? No, Jesus came to walk in God’s will. He came to speak God’s message. He came to work God’s mission through God’s Spirit. He didn’t come relying on his own ability. If the Son of God worked mission by the power of the Spirit, then you and I probably should do likewise. The purpose of this life is not to be true to yourself. I know I’ve said it before, but the mission is to die. And if our mission is to be successful (and we must define success by God’s standards, not our own) it must be Spirit-powered. Walk! Teach! Go! But don’t do any of it without the Spirit of God empowering, leading, inspiring you. Work mission by the power of the Spirit. You cannot do that being true to yourself. Be true to God.