Summary: This is the second in a series of Messages based on Luke 4:14-21 and Isaiah 61:1-4 which equates the mission of the Church with the mission of Jesus as He states it in Luke 4:18-19.
His Mission and Ours: To Preach and to Heal
As I shared last week, I am convinced that Jesus through this series of messages “His Mission and Ours” is beginning to form in my heart His vision of ministry for Trinity United Methodist Church. Last week we saw that our mission begins by “Bringing Good News to the Poor.”
The term that Jesus uses for “poor” in Luke 4:18 refers to people who live in abject poverty, individuals who are utterly helpless, those who are completely and absolutely destitute, persons who are extremely poor, or those who lack the means to provide for themselves. The poor in our contemporary society include the almost 100 persons in Kankakee—our brothers, sisters, and children—who are homeless and seek shelter anywhere they can escape the bitter cold of winter or the humid heat of summer. Our poor encompass the 12.5 million children in these United States who daily endure hunger and the 24,000 persons who die from starvation in our world each day.
One day this week as I returned home, my heart again broke in two, as I saw one of our homeless Kankakee brothers pushing his shopping cart containing all his worldly possessions down Water Street in January’s bitter cold. Jesus calls us to minister to such as these. If we truly love and follow Jesus, we can not turn them away empty handed.
‘Bringing Good News to the Poor” is our call to “social holiness,” social action. John Wesley and our early Methodist forbearers cared for society’s poor in love, compassion, and understanding. Methodism was born out of a spirit that continually collected and gave funds, food, clothing, and fuel to the poor; and all the while Wesley reminded the “people called Methodists” to personally deliver these gifts to those in need rather than simply send them. Wesley’s three-fold plan for ministering with the poor was so simple:
1. Meet their needs yourself.
2. Solicit resources for the poor.
3. Become an advocate for the poor.
I discern that is a practical, workable plan for the Church to put into action in the twenty-first century.
Now we come to the second phase of His Mission and Ours for Trinity United Methodist Church. Following “In His Steps,” our Mission is “To Preach and to Heal,” for Jesus proclaims His Mission and Ours is “to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind.”
As the Spirit of the Lord sent Jesus, He sends us into ministry today. What does it mean to be a sent people? It means that as the people of God the Holy Spirit sends us forth on a mission, and that mission is to preach, to speak, to bless, to redeem, and to save. We are sent by God with a message to proclaim, and we are backed by the most powerful Authority in the universe, the Spirit of the Lord who is upon us and has anointed us for His ministry.
God sends us on the mission of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world. This mission is itself two-fold, for it involves a ministry of both preaching and teaching. Matthew 4:23 declares that Jesus “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” Our mission is the Great Commission, to make disciples in all nations by preaching and teaching people to “obey everything Jesus has commanded us” (Matthew 28:20). We are anointed by God’s Spirit to announce to the world that Jesus is God’s Messiah promised through the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures. The message the Holy Spirit sends us to proclaim to all the world is the personal testimony of Jesus in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” We proclaim the same message as did Peter in Acts 4:11-12, who, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” preached:
“This Jesus is
‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;
it has become the cornerstone.’
“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”
Our mission is to proclaim to everyone that Jesus Christ is God’s Only Way to eternal life and peace. All roads do not lead to God. Satan’s biggest lie is deceiving people to believe that all religions lead to peace with God. Jesus is the Only Way of salvation. This is our mission the Holy Spirit anoints us to share with everyone.
Jesus sends His Church “to proclaim release to the captives.” Our message is a message of release from bondage or imprisonment. In the Exodus God liberated His people the children of Israel from 400 years of bondage and imprisonment of slavery in Egypt. As Israel was enslaved in Egypt, so sin has enslaved all people. David testifies in Psalm 51:5: