to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Jesus’ ministry is focused on bringing good news to the poor, prisoners, blind, and oppressed. So who are the poor, imprisoned, blind, and oppressed? Are we considered among these, did Jesus come for people like us? What if we do not consider ourselves poor, imprisoned, blind, or oppressed does that mean the message of Jesus does not apply to us?
Jesus certainly has an affinity toward the poor saying “Looking at his disciples, he said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God’” (Luke 6:20). But the poor are not just those without sufficient means of finances. The poor is any one is deficient physically, socially, or spiritually. The poor are those who are ignored and not given opportunities based on family, culture, health, orientation, geography, failures, inadequacies, or even past mistakes. Jesus comes to bring good news to all those who have not. The good news is that though they are poor and lack now, Jesus calls them truly blessed with a great inheritance.
The blind are closely related to the poor. We see that Jesus does heal the physically blind, but Jesus also heals spiritual blindness. Jesus has come to reveal to us what we have previously failed to see. Jesus came to show the love, power, forgiveness, and new life. This recovery of sight is seen most clearly in Luke 24:13-35 when Jesus appears to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Jesus opens their eyes to what had to happen and what was spoken about in the prophets. Jesus has come to show us the truth about God’s favorable disposition towards his people.
The prisoners and the oppressed are those who are burdened and eve trapped by self destructive tendencies, addictions, and immoral habits (or simply sin). Sin binds and imprisons (Luke 13:10-17). As long as we continue to serve our own desires and selfish whims we will be imprisoned by the need to self gratify which ultimately will lead us bent over and miserable. Jesus uses his life, death, and resurrection to release the power of his gracious love to set his people free from these binding spirits.
So does this include me? Did Jesus come to bring me good news? Personally I can relate to being imprisoned. Too many times I try to do the thing I know I ought to do, but I fail. Many times I try not to do the things that I shouldn’t do, but I still do them. Like Paul in Romans 7:24, 25 I cry out “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” I need to be freed from my own sin. I see that even though I have food enough, clothes enough, shelter enough, that there is more than my very soul longs for that I cannot attain by myself, I lack and therefore, find myself wretchedly poor. I long for life, true eternal life that I cannot afford, but must be given. Even though I have been through Bible College and Seminary, I know there is a great mystery hiding in the beautiful and wonderful presence of God. I long to see the image of love, and I long to hear the words my poor spirit desperately needs “well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21)
There were many during Jesus’ time who thought they could afford themselves everything needed. There were those who thought they saw and understood everything that needed to be understood. There were many who though that they could do whatever they desired free from consequence.
There are many even today who do not see their own poverty hiding behind their retirement, salary, and savings. There are those born so blind they do not even realize they cannot see. There are many today who believe they are utterly free while they are locked behind an 8x10 cell. Jesus has come for them as well because even though they do not realize it, they are poor, blind, and imprisoned. I think when God calls us home; we will be surprised at his wonderful graciousness. I think we will be greatly surprised at whom the God of love has brought into his kingdom.