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Friends in Christ Weekly Message
January 24, 2004

     Jesus went back to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and as usual he went to the meeting place on the Sabbath. When he stood up to read from the Scriptures, he was given the book of Isaiah the prophet. He opened it and read,
    The Lord's Spirit has come to me,
    because he has chosen me
    to tell the good news to the poor.
    The Lord has sent me
    to announce freedom for prisoners,
    to give sight to the blind,
    to free everyone who suffers,
    and to say, "This is the year the Lord has chosen."
     Jesus closed the book, then handed it back to the man in charge and sat down. Everyone in the meeting place looked straight at Jesus.
     "Then Jesus said to them, What you have just heard me read has come true today."

Luke 4:16-21 (CEV*)

This story, which Luke places near the beginning of Jesus' public ministry, is a bold and dramatic assertion by Jesus that He is the fulfillment of messianic prophecy. This would have been quite startling and provocative to his audience, and remains highly controversial yet today.

Jesus' choice of messianic scripture to announce who He was establishes his understanding of the mission of the true messiah. The mission is one of liberation for the poor and oppressed and suffering. Christ's mission was a challenge to the power structure of his day, and remains a challenge to the power structure in every age since. The repression of Christianity in some parts of the world today seems clearly to be a response to the threat posed to the social structure by the preaching of good news to the poor; telling them that they are the beloved of God not some lesser class of human with little worth.

As Christians, are we living out Jesus' professed mission? Are we offering good news to the poor, liberty to the oppressed, and relief to the suffering?

Bill Samuel

* Contemporary English Version ©1995 American Bible Society.

©2004 Friends in Christ, Inc.

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Document last modified on Saturday, 31-Jan-2004 20:33:21 EST