Summary: This message focuses on the mission of Jesus Christ: proclaiming the Good News for the Poor.
For the Poor
How many of you have seen the Mission Impossible movies? Age check! How many of you remember the original TV series airing on Saturday nights. It ran from 1966 to 1973. There is one line which defined that series and it was, “Your mission, if you should choose to accept it…” Jesus, around age 30 entered his hometown synagogue, opened the scroll and publicly read from Isaiah 61. Now this passage was written 100’s of years before Jesus’ birth but they told of the coming of the Messiah and the Messiah’s mission. God says, “Jesus, this is your mission, if you should choose to accept it…” There are several things we learn from Jesus reading of this passage.
First is his identity. As Jesus reads these words, they come alive in him and reveal his identity. The word for ‘anointed’ in Hebrew is meshac from which we get the word Messiah. Jesus is proclaiming for all who were listening that he is the Messiah, God’s anointed one.
Second is his mission and ours. Jesus came to bring Good News to the poor. Jesus focused on those who were poor, disenfranchised and far from God. The Good News is that they are not forgotten, God has heard their pain and suffering and His kingdom is being birthed in their midst. And because it is His mission, we who are followers of Christ, meaning we seek to do what he did, this is our mission as well. If it’s not focused on the poor, then it’s not Jesus mission and it’s not the Good News he was to proclaim. Everything that Jesus says and does is focused on the poor and the disenfranchised. Third is timing. Isaiah 61 speaks of “the year of the Lord’s favor” which was time when the Messiah would be revealed in his coming and continue until His return. So you and I live in the between time. When tney thought they were forgotten, Jesus is proclaiming that they will receive God’s blessings and presence. Fourth is God presence. The presence of God’s splendor means that the presence of God will be revealed through the activity of God. Where once they thought they were alone in their trials, now they can know that God is with them. And the people will be actively working to build the kingdom of God. We will “rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.” God’s presence was most active and felt in Jesus the Messiah.
For the next three weeks, we’re going to focus on this passage. This week, we’re going to focus on the mission of Jesus Christ: proclaiming the Good News for the Poor. Next week, we’re going to look at the freedom that God gives from anything that restricts you in your life and the third week, we’re going to focus on God’s calling for your life.
Advent is meant to focus on the return of Christ and the Day of Judgment. Matthew 25 is really the only passage in the Bible that talks about what will happen on the Day of Judgment. There it says that on the day when the King returns, he will separate the sheep from the goats placing the sheep on the right and the goats on the left. (That’s not a political statement so don’t read into it!) And he will say to those on the right, Come and receive the receive kingdom which was prepared for you since the beginning of time “for I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was sick and you ministered to me, I was imprisoned and you visited me.” I think the most difficult thing in my life is living out Jesus’ call to “Follow me..” Faith is not just about believing in Jesus, though a lot of times we reduce it to. Faith is about doing and in Matthew 25, Jesus tells us exactly what we are to be doing. “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” This is what the mission of Jesus is and who the Gospel is for, the poor, the sick, the hungry, the thirsty and the imprisoned.
The Bible has a lot to say about the poor. More than 300 verses in the Bible focus on the poor, social justice, and God's deep concern for both. It was the command and expectation of all Jews that they would do their part in caring for the poor. Jesus came to bring the Good News to the poor. His mission is ours and so you are to bring Good News to the poor as well. That is your mission if you choose to receive Jesus and follow Him.