Luke 4:18 – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; NKJV
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! I want, more than anything, for Jesus to be seen in me. I know that doesn’t happen as often as it should, but it’s my heart’s desire. I also understand that if I want Jesus to be seen in me, then I need to live a life reflective of Him. That’s why I am drawn to the ministry of Jesus, and will spend some time blogging about it!
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”. Jesus is in the temple in His hometown. According to Luke, this happens after Jesus has been led on a forty day fast by the Spirit of God. During this fast He has an encounter with Satan, in which Satan tries very hard, through temptations, to pull Him off course. Luke let’s us know that when He returned to Galilee, after this fast, He returned in the power of the Spirit. He is now ready to deal with the devil and to fulfill His destiny as Messiah!
Isaiah’s prophecy, which Jesus read in Luke 4, was familiar to those who were listening in the synagogue. Jesus said that He was anointed to preach the gospel to the poor. Often, as ministers, we have said that the gospel to the poor is that you don’t have to be poor anymore. I agree with this use of the verse because Jesus has a way of making the poor feel mighty rich. I agree with this verse because He also has a way of making the poor rich, spiritually and materially. But today, I want to look at what I believe Jesus was really saying!
What is the gospel to the poor? And why does it even it matter?
If you have never been poor, you are clueless as to the effect these words would have on poor people. I have been poor. I was raised in the South with seven sisters and two brothers. I lived with both my parents, and we were poor. I remember wearing hand me downs for a good portion of my life. Not just from my many sisters, but from the goodwill box that would arrive with clothes in it. I grew to hate hand me downs! I remember getting food boxes with stuff nobody really eats because it was cleared out of the cupboards of people who no longer wanted it. The worst was at Christmas when we would get those nasty fruit cakes in a tin! I know what you are thinking? You couldn’t have been too poor if you were being so choosy. Well, I could tell you some stories!
The poor has always been at the mercy of others, even in Biblical days. Jews with land and money had to provide for them. In Exodus, we find these words:
Exodus 23:10-11 – “Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove. NKJV
Jewish law, mandated by God, stated that the Jewish people were to work their land for six years, but the in the seventh year, they were to leave the fields alone. This year of rest was also a year that would allow those who were poor to gather food for themselves and their families. Likewise, in their vineyard and their olive groves.
In Leviticus, we see the same principle:
Leviticus 23:22 – ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God.’ ” NKJV
Even in the years that they gathered, they were to leave the corners of their fields alone, so that the poor around them could gather something to eat during those first six years. (Remember, Ruth was allowed to glean in Boaz’s fields to gather food for herself and Naomi). It’s tough to always be at the mercy of others for the basic needs of your life! It’s tough being poor! Many of us are so blessed that we don’t get this! We just become so unfeeling at times that we fail to realize, “If it had not been for the Lord!”
In the Word, there are so many references to dealing with the poor, but I’ll list only a few here today:
- Don’t deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. (Exodus 23:6)
- Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. (Leviticus 19:15)
- All my bones shall say, “ Lord, who is like You, Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, Yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?(Psalm 35:10)
- Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. (Luke 7:22)
- Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” (Luke 19:8)
I could go on, but I have made the point! I believe the gospel that was preached to the poor was and is the gospel that says, you will not be ignored anymore! That’s pretty powerful! No more will you have to feel insignificant, afraid of those in power and those with money, because I came specifically to give you the good news. I am here for you! I will never forsake you, I will never leave you. I’m leveling the playing field because the currency of the kingdom of God isn’t money, it’s faith! And if you can believe, all things are possible to those who believe!
Jesus cared about the well-being of the poor. He understood that it was not enough to just feed the poor and to give them clothes, although He had no problems with feeding them! He saw the poor! He saw that they were people who wanted the best for their families, just like those who were not poor. He saw that they wanted to be treated fairly when they went to court, just like everybody else was treated fairly. He saw that their lives mattered to them and their families. And He still sees them!
This morning I actually thought about how Jesus is there for the underdog. The underdog is defined as a loser or predicted loser in a struggle or contest; a victim of injustice or persecution, by Merriam-Webster dictionary. Doesn’t that sound like the poor? His first proclamation as Messiah was that He had come to preach to the underdog.
Jesus’ gospel, sees people, sees the value of people, and the needs of people. He offered to the poor, a gospel that valued them. He offered them an opportunity to make everlasting changes in their lives and the lives of their family! He offered them hope and a future! He offered them a Savior who was there for them. He offered them Himself!
As believers, as ambassadors for Christ, it is what we have been anointed to do! The Spirit of the Lord God is upon us to preach the gospel to the poor. But in the preaching, there must be demonstration of the truth of His words! We are defenders of social justice, for Jesus’ gospel to the poor is the gospel to the underdog. We are for equality, for Jesus’ gospel is the great equalizer, all one body we! We are His ambassadors, and as such, we are to continue what He started!
It’s a gospel of salvation! It’s a gospel of hope! It’s a gospel to the poor! Wonderful Jesus!