What was Jesus’ mission? Or better yet, how did he understand and articulate his mission?
In Luke 4, we read his understanding of his mission. The first 13 verses tell the story of Jesus who was full of the Holy Spirit, which had just come upon him at his baptism, and now who was leading Jesus alone into the wilderness. There Jesus faced temptation employing the word of God to defeat the devil. We read in verses 14 and 15 that Jesus is flowing with the power of the Spirit, and he begins his ministry. What is his first stop? His hometown, Nazareth. He enters the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he reads a passage from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Let’s read it as well. Luke 4, verses 18-21.
“’The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’.”
Jesus says that this prophecy, though it was issued hundreds of years before, is now fulfilled in him. It is his mission. What is that mission? Notice the five parts of his mission.
Proclaim good news to the poor
Freedom for the prisoners
Sight for the blind
Freedom for the oppressed
Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
The five tasks of Jesus’ mission include the proclamation of good news in both word and deed. There is a wonderful balance to Jesus’ mission, and there should be a balance to ours. If we are overemphasizing proclamation of good news content, we are missing out on sacrificial neighborliness that sees the needs of marginalized people around us. If we are overemphasizing the good news of social outreach, we are missing out on the story of Jesus’ loving salvation in his birth, life, death and resurrection that makes abundant life and eternal life available to all. We need both.
Jesus taught both and demonstrated both in his ministry. People flocked to him because both his words and deeds were like a very pleasant aroma. Aroma? Yes. We’ll learn more about that in the next post.