“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 NKJV)
These are the opening words of Isaiah 61. It was no coincidence that these were the words scheduled to be read in the synagogue as Jesus returned to His hometown of Nazareth. The people of Nazareth had heard rumblings about His teaching and as He kicked off His public ministry in His hometown, the amazing scope of His upcoming work made quite an impact. The end result of the dialogue with the people in the synagogue was that his homies wanted to throw Him off a cliff. Let’s face it, it was at this point in time that He claimed to be the Messiah. Perhaps the Nazarenes had their fill of “messiahs” after seeing the road lined with crosses when Jesus was a young child. Getting rid of Jesus would save the people of Nazareth a lot of heartbreak. Even if they didn’t think back to those days, the concept of liberty for captives and the oppressed could get them into trouble with Rome also. In short, as beautiful as those words sound today, they were subversive to Roman society and a Jewish people who were trying to survive the rule of the Roman empire.
Sometimes I think the problem with Christians is that we’ve grown too accustomed to the status quo. We’ve worked with power so much that we’re uncomfortable with people who don’t fit into society: the poor, the broken-hearted and hurting, the prisoner, the disabled, the oppressed, the down and out. Our call, as God’s church, is to minister to the down and out, to the oppressed, to the marginalized of society. While we don’t ignore the mainstream members of society, we continue to share the love of God with them, God has always looked out and cared for for the outcasts of society. Take the time to join with Jesus in following the words He used to define His mission. Reach out to the unloved, the oppressed, the poor and share material and spiritual blessings as you live in the acceptable year of the Lord.
Father, help me to remember the forgotten, love the unloved, feed the hungry, and show Your love to all people.