Jesus had a mission.
He gave it to us in Luke chapter 4.
When He (Jesus) came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures.
The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.
These are the referenced verses from Isaiah.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.
Isaiah 61: 1-2
This was the good news Jesus preached. Jesus preached grace.
Jesus delivers the Lord’s favor to His people. According to the Apostle John”¦ grace and truth came from Jesus.
Jesus turned over this mission first to the Apostles and second to us. The Hole Spirit is sent to us to guide us toward this goal.
This mission is now our responsibility. Why would God turn over this important mission to a group of flawed people? I don’t know. But he did.
Ready to pick up the mantle?
Let’s carry on.
What groups of people did Jesus mention? The poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, the blind, the prisoners, the oppressed, and those who morn. James adds widows and orphans. It is a list of those left behind by society.
These groups are mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. Let’s look at two of these: Mathew 25 and Luke 58.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ”˜Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.
Then these righteous ones will reply, ”˜Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?
And the King will say, I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!
Matthew 25: 34-40
Jesus is telling his flock that it is important to Him that we care for the disadvantaged.
There are two sets of benefits.
The obvious one is the disadvantaged are shown love.
The second is that the people will hear of this and see who Christians really are to the glory of God. Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 4:11.
Our works demonstrate to people, in a gentle and respectful way, the truth of Christ Jesus.
No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
”˜Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
To put this in context read the first 5 verses of Isaiah. God is a bit unhappy with Israel.
Why? Because they were doing things to please themselves – to make themselves look good.
God chastised them on the way they fasted.
As I was reading this chapter, I received a thought – Fasting is not only about food.
We have to fast from things that consume our time in a way to prevent us from serving others.
We need to do an audit of what is preventing us to carry out the mission God gives us in Isaiah 58. And in Matthew 25.