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Fall 2012 · Vol. 41 No. 2 · pp. 293–299 

Ministry Compass

The Mission of Jesus Christ According to Luke 4:18–19

Elfriede Janz de Verόn

Mission begins in the heart of God (Escobar). God sent his only beloved Son to this world. God and Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to this world.

Jesus sent his disciples and us. Where? To this world. The Holy Spirit is the principal actor in fulfilling the mission.

The teaching ministry of Christian educational institutions ought to assist the church in accomplishing its ministry, purposes, and mission in society.

Jesus’ mission was to save that which was lost. This salvation and good news was and is directed toward every area of need, poverty, and problem of humanity. By nature, man lives separated from God. He lives with a great number of problems and misfortunes, urgently needing the good news of the love and the grace and the favor of Christ.

Jesus was convinced that he was able to fulfill his mission because God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit.

One passage that speaks to us of Jesus’ mission is found in Luke 4:18–19.

Problem: Poverty

Luke 4:18 (a): “to proclaim good news to the poor”

There is much spiritual and moral poverty.

Economic poverty is also a very real problem, especially in a country like Paraguay, but in many other countries as well.

What did Jesus do for the poor?

  • He had compassion on a poor widow and raised her only son from the dead, because this son was the source of support for the widow’s future.
  • He healed the lepers, so they could return to their work.
  • He condemned the rich who exploited the poor, especially the orphans and the widows.
  • On the other hand, we see that he praised the action of a poor widow who placed all that she had in the offering plate.
  • He did not prevent her from giving, nor does the Bible mention that he gave her any funds, now that she was without money.

The poor are not always poor. On the contrary, they are often rich in faith. “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” (James 2:5).

  • I know several people with significant economic needs, yet they are rich in faith and progressing economically. They do not feel abandoned by God, but rather they feel very loved.
  • From my point of view, a person who follows Jesus and trusts him is not poor. He or she may lack material things, as did both Jesus and Paul.
  • The promise is that God will provide for their needs. Do we know and preach contentment?

Problem: Captivity

Luke 4:18(b): “He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners”

In the Gospels we do not read of Jesus freeing anyone from prison. (In Acts we do read of some who were miraculously set free from jail). He did not even give freedom to John the Baptist when he was in prison, although he certainly would have had the power to do so.

So, what prisoners did he free?

Prisoners of the devil. Jesus liberated many people who were possessed by demons.

  • Even today there are many people who are prisoners of the devil and his demons.
  • In our country there are many who have turned to spiritism, witchcraft, and mind-reading and are bound in some way by evil spirits. Do we teach the students at our Christian institutions how these people can be set free from their captivity?

Prisoners of sin and vice

“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin’ ” (John 8:34).

  • It wasn’t just the prostitutes, adulterers, and tax collectors who were sinners. The Jews thought they were free, but Jesus saw that they were totally enslaved to sin.
  • Today, many think they are free, but we realize that they are imprisoned by such things as addiction, hate, violence, hypocrisy, envy, greed, and many other sins.

Prisoners of wealth

  • Wealth prevented the rich young ruler from following Jesus, and money continues to be a great obstacle, hindering many people from faithfully following the Lord.
  • Our mission is not only directed toward the poor, but also toward the rich. They need to be freed from the love of money.

Prisoners of tradition and legalism

  • The religious in Jesus’ day were bound by their traditions and laws, such that they could not accept the grace of Jesus Christ.
  • Today, many believe they can secure their salvation by observing religious traditions. Believing themselves to be free, they are slaves of tradition.

There are many captives, even in our Christian institutions. They need to be freed. Do we proclaim freedom in Christ to them? Do we proclaim freedom from the bondage of some traditions?

  • “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
  • As the hymn says, “Glorious freedom, wonderful freedom, no more in chains of sin I repine.”

Problem: Physical Suffering

Luke 4:18 (c): “recovery of sight for the blind.”

Jesus took an interest in people’s physical suffering. We are not the God who heals, but we believe in the God who can heal.

  • The first Christian church cried out to God for miracles and healing, and God answered. How many of us cry out to God for healing?
  • God is the same God, yesterday, today, and forever.
  • Sometimes he heals instantly, sometimes it is a process, sometimes he uses medicine, sometimes he only removes the pain; but we can cry out to him and trust in him.

Problem: Oppression

Luke 4:18 (d) “to set the oppressed free”

Many are oppressed, distressed, weighed down, and grieving.

Socially oppressed

  • Jesus had compassion on the outcasts (lepers, for example).
  • Do we have a mission to reach the outcasts of society?

Oppressed by sin and a destructive lifestyle

  • Jesus restored the life of the Samaritan woman.
  • The prodigal son returned to his father’s warm, loving home.

Oppressed by difficult life experiences

  • Many live oppressed by pain and hurts of the past—childhood abuse, marital infidelity, and financial injury.
  • Do we give hope and encouragement to their wounded and broken hearts?

Oppressed by fear and worry

  • Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not worry” (Matt. 6:31). Fear and worry do not allow a person to live a happy, abundant life.
  • Even so, many Christians live oppressed by this current evil—fear of what is to come, fear of what others will say, worry about the current economic state, worry about their children, etc.

Do we live and preach freedom in Christ?

  • Do our neighbors, students, and brothers and sisters in Christ see us as free people?
  • Jesus was completely free and only he can give true freedom.

Conclusion

Good News: Now is the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:19)

We believe that the time has come where God is manifesting his favor in a special way in Paraguay and South America.

The teaching ministry of Christian educational institutions should align with the mission of the church. Moreover, it ought to assist the church in accomplishing its ministry, purposes, and mission in society.

Christian institutions should speak the same language as the church. The church’s mission, and consequently our mission, since we form part of the church, is to take the good news of the grace of Jesus Christ to this world full of needs, problems, and misfortunes.

Like Jesus, we need the anointment with the Holy Spirit; otherwise our ministry will be limited to just human power and human efforts.

Jesus was sent by his Father “to proclaim good news to the poor . . . freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19). And he says, speaking to his Father, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18).

Elfriede Janz de Verón is an Instructor in New Testament at the Instituto Bíblico Asunción, in Asunción, Paraguay. She has a PhD in Education. This meditation was delivered at the ICOMB Higher Education Consultation in Winnipeg in June 2011.

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