What’s important to Jesus?


Most of the answers to this can be found in one of the more electrifying moments of Christ’s sojourn here on earth. It was fairly early on in His ministry, and He was in the town of Nazareth where He grew up. It was the Sabbath, and Jesus was in the Jewish temple and someone handed Him a scroll from which to read, and Jesus opened to a passage in Isaiah and read:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    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,

    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. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:19-21)

Jesus used a prophesy concerning Himself from the book of Isaiah to proclaim, publicly, His agenda. It’s all here, and it’s pretty straightforward. The people Jesus is most concerned about are the poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed. And just as the Luke account of the Beatitudes is about the physically poor, hungry, and depressed, and the Matthew account of the same is about the spiritually poor, hungry and depressed, this agenda from Isaiah is most likely about both the spiritually and physically poor, prisoners, blind, and oppressed. And you can’t help but tell — if you observe Jesus as He makes His way through the gospel narratives of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — that He was particularly keen on those who were physically poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed. Indeed, these were the people who followed Jesus and the people He surrounded Himself with. He did not hang with the upper-crust. He did not come to spend time with kings and princes and religious leaders. His heart was bent towards those in need — those in the lower echelons of society.

This is why its’s impossible to say we love Jesus and follow Him without sharing His compassion for the poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed. And I’m putting myself first in line among those who need to hear this. This priority of Jesus simply cannot be ignored. Certainly we have tried to excuse ourselves from this by spiritualizing it (i.e., in our relatively wealthy churches, we are reaching out to the spiritually poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed), but that will only go so far. You can’t be partial to the spiritual component of this agenda while ignoring the physical part. That is not only hypocritical, it is totally missing the heart of God. God has always been on the side of the poor, homeless and oppressed. Throughout the Old Testament, provision was always made for these, and Jesus continued it.

This, by the way, is something we largely missed in our spiritual revolution, the Jesus Movement. Most of us didn’t hear the part about the poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed. We didn’t read that far in. We heard as far in as “proclaiming the good news” — getting people saved was what we were concerned about. This is what I believe the millennials are getting right about the new frontier. They are much more conscious of the poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed than we were. We need to follow their lead.

Question: If the poor, the prisoners, the blind and the oppressed were priorities for Jesus, what does that mean for us?

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8 Responses to What’s important to Jesus?

  1. “Go and do likewise.”
    Luke 10:37

  2. Wayne Bridegroom says:

    Hi John
    It’s been out a few years, Generous Justice, by Timothy Keller of Redeemer Pres in NYC. He spells out exactly what you are saying with solid biblical research as does The National Association of Evangelicals. It’s the “upside down Kingdom” which Anabaptists (Yoder, Kraybill) love to talk about.
    Proclaim the favorable year of the Lord – all commentaries I have read point out that this is a reference to the Year of Jubilee, hence deep implications for the church which were lived out in Acts 2 and 4 with other examples in Acts. Paul really pounds away at this in 2 Cor 8-9. It’s like no economic system in the world, a system of work, dignity and providing the means for the disenfranchised to get back on their feet.

  3. Mark D Seguin says:

    Love this, Question: If the poor, the prisoners, the blind and the oppressed were priorities for Jesus, what does that mean for us?

    Answer from me, it means I’m not living up to His standards. In that regard….

  4. peter leenheer says:

    the truth is I have been doing a poor job of that so far, so decided to do what is penned below.

    Am a third of the way through a sunday school play called the FOURTH WISEMAN. The story is about the coming of the Magi, the fourth one does not arrive with the others and comes much later because on the way he constantly help the blind, visits the prisoners and encourages the downcast, and gives money to the poor. When he arrives in Bethlehem Jesus and family are in Egypt. He thinks he missed out on Jesus until God tells him he was with every step of his journey to Bethlehem. We will begin four weeks before the play is staged with the slogan, ‘Where is Jesus?’and give all sorts of clues. The truth is Jesus is in the Fourth Wiseman’s heart.

  5. Sandie says:

    Teens and outlaw bikers…that’s where Jesus led Bobby and me. Sometimes together, sometimes singly, sometimes with music and sometimes with none. With these two groups you have to shed all pretense or you’re sunk. They smell a phony a mile away. How many were saved through our ministering? I don’t know; that’s God business, We just tried our best not to leave a mess for the next believer to clean up. Not everyone reaps, and that’s ok – just see what’s in front of me and follow His lead. Before every ministry event my fervent prayer was that God would break my heart for whoever He brought,,,and that I would let it stay that way.

  6. John A Fagliano says:

    Question: If the poor, the prisoners, the blind and the oppressed were priorities for Jesus, what does that mean for us?

    First off, if we are any of those things, then we can rejoice. Jesus came for us.
    What if we are not any of those things? The answer is, that is not possible. Whether literally or figuratively we ALL were one or more of those things before we knew Him. If we were imprisoned to our sin and set free, we were guilty but he forgave us. Is that much different from those literally behind bars? Notice He didn’t specify those wrongly imprisoned but prisoners regardless of what they are guilty of doing. Let that sink in for a while. Jesus came to set ALL free and has called us to join Him in His work. If the Spirit of the Lord is upon us too, then I think we too have been anointed that we may be a part of this work.

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