Luke 4:1-30; Ezekiel 44-45; Isaiah 64
Jesus probably wouldn’t have been a very popular preacher in today’s world. He wouldn’t have been able to get a television ministry. He wouldn’t last long on radio. He might have been able to set up a niche presence on the internet, but then, just about anyone can do that these days. He didn’t preach popular themes like “health and wealth.” He didn’t cater to the upper class. Instead, when given the chance to define His ministry, He took the opposite approach. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19) With that introduction, Jesus made it clear that He would be ministering to the poor, the broken-hearted – those who had given up on life, the captives, those with physical disabilities, and those who are oppressed in society. His message was one of Jubilee – the acceptable year of the Lord. In a year of Jubilee, we all start back at the same place. Debts are forgiven. Land is returned. It was, perhaps, a concept that had been forgotten during the years of captivity in Babylon. In the same way, as the Church has become mainstream in society, we have forgotten these concepts. When we minister to others, we do so in an attitude of superiority. The poor are poor because they don’t have resources – so we throw resources at them hoping to solve a problem. Yet their poverty exists because we don’t get to the root of the problem and proclaim the good news and lift them out of their poverty. When they don’t respond to all the resources we extend, we then blame them for their poverty instead of working to help them reconcile all the necessary relationships in their lives. We glibly tell the broken-hearted to “get over it,” after what we deem to be an acceptable time instead of continuing to minister in love and compassion. We ignore those with physical disabilities or look away when we have the chance to minister. When we should be working to free the oppressed, we have often become the oppressors. In order to be the Church – the body of Christ – in today’s world, we have to face some agonizing truths and return to our roots as followers of Christ. It is time for a Jubilee; a time to return to that place when we forgive others. It’s time to begin walking with others on level ground instead of looking down at them. It’s time to show the love and grace of Jesus that we have received to those who are poor, broken-hearted, captive, blind and oppressed.
Lord, I sit in my privileged position with You and it’s so easy to look down on those who have needs. Remind me that not only do I still have needs; but that had I not accepted Your love and grace that I would be in the same situations as those whom I tend to look down on. Keep me humble Lord and let me live this next year as a year of Jubilee the way I deal with others.