January 31 I Friday
“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
—1 John 3:17-18
As Jesus walks up to address those He has grown up with at the synagogue, He is handed a scroll from Isaiah by the attendant. Jesus reads, “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 favour” (Luke 4:18-19). After reading the text, he declares, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).
What Jesus is saying in this text through the prophet Isaiah is that God’s good news is available for us if we are poor, if we are oppressed and if we would acknowledge that there is something wrong with us. The good news of Jesus Christ is that He came for people just like us.
When we study the Gospels and look at the ministry of Jesus throughout the New Testament, we see Him serving the poor, restoring the vision of the blind and setting oppressed people free. But when Jesus said that He came to preach good news to the poor, was He speaking of physical poverty or about spiritual poverty? When He was sent to set the captives free, was He speaking of literal prisoners or was He speaking about spiritual and figurative prisoners? The answer is both. Jesus meant for those who were literally blind to receive their vision as well as those who are spiritually blind to receive their vision to understand who He is.
If we are preaching about the good news but doing nothing to meet the physical needs of someone, it is not good news we are preaching. James tells us, “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:15-16). Jesus’s ministry reached the poor, blind, and oppressed both physically and spiritually.
It was not something that He did only back then, when Jesus quoted from Isaiah 61, but He continues to do it today through His church. It does not matter what community we are in, Jesus came to liberate people, to set them free and to preach good news to the poor. He has planted us in our community for a purpose. How can we reflect the ministry of Christ in our communities and neighbourhoods?
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for setting the example for what it means to meet the needs of the poor, blind and oppressed physically and spiritually. Give me the boldness and courage to be caught up in the things of You in this life. Praise You!