Whether it was the prescribed reading for the day or whether Jesus intentionally found the relevant verses (Isa. 61:1-2) in the scroll He was given to read, it was no coincidence these verses were the text for His first public sermon. Neither is it a coincidence that the story of Jesus’ short sermon in Luke 4:16-21—“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21, NIV)—begins Luke’s record of Jesus’ public ministry.
Jesus seemed to be picking up the tune from Mary’s song of an “upside-down kingdom” and beginning to put it into effect in His ministry. Jesus—and Luke in his retelling of Jesus’ story—used the prophecy of Isaiah to explain what Jesus was doing and was about to do, but it was also another way of expressing what Mary had described 30 years earlier. The poor, the hurting, and the oppressed are the special focus and recipients of the good news that Jesus was bringing.
Jesus adopted these verses from Isaiah 61 as His mission statement. His ministry and mission were to be both spiritual and practical, and He would demonstrate that the spiritual and practical are not as far apart as we sometimes assume. For Jesus and His disciples, caring for people physically and practically were at least part of caring for them spiritually.
Read and compare Luke 4:16-21 and Luke 7:18-23. Why do you think Jesus answered in this way? How would you respond to similar questions about the divinity and messiahship of Jesus?
When Jesus sent out His disciples, the commission He gave to them was also in accord with this mission. While they were to announce that “the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matt. 10:7, NIV), Jesus’ further instructions to His disciples were to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give” (Matt. 10:8, NIV). Their ministry in His name was to reflect and enact the values and principles of Jesus’ ministry and the kingdom He invited people to. The disciples, too, were to join with Jesus in His mission to lift up the last, the least, and the lost.
|How do we balance this work with the crucial message of preaching the Three Angels’ Messages to a lost world, as well? Why must all that we do be related, in one way or another, to the proclaiming of “present truth”?|