Early in Christ’s ministry, He proclaimed His purpose and message. He tied His own ministry to the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-3. Jesus reminds us that the proclamation of the Gospel should never be obscure. It must always ring with a clear and simple message of eternal truth.
His message was simple and clear – be doers of the word not just hearers. James, the half-brother of Jesus said the exact same thing:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who investigates the perfect law of liberty and continues in it and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. If anyone among you thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. (James 1:22-27 NKJV)
Our Lord’s message is one of commitment and action. As St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach Jesus and when necessary use words.”
I recently read a little story that aptly challenges us to model the message of the teachings found in Isaiah 61 and repeated in Luke 4.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted and to announce that captives shall be released and the blind shall see, that the downtrodden shall be freed from their oppressors, and that God is ready to give blessings to all who come to him. (Luke 4:18-19 Living Bible)
It was a cold New York December day just before Christmas. A little boy, who was about 10 years old, was standing in front of a shoe store on the roadway, barefoot, peering through the big plate-glass window, and shivering with cold. An older lady approached the boy and said, “My little fellow, why are you looking so earnestly in that window?” The young boy responded, “I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes.”
The lady took him by the hand and went into the store and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs of warm socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of hot water and a dry towel. By the time the clerk had returned with the socks, the lady had scrubbed the lad’s feet clean. After carefully drying each toe she placed the socks and a comfortable pair of new shoes upon the boy’s feet. “How does that feel?” asked the little old lady. “Just fine,” exclaimed the boy.
She patted him on the head, put the extra socks in a bag and said, “No doubt, my little fellow, you feel more comfortable now?” As she paid for the merchandise and turned to leave the little boy caught her by the hand, and looking up in her face, with tears in his eyes, answered the question she just posed with these words: “Are you God’s Wife?”
The deeds of kindness and encouragement mean a great deal to those who are downhearted, troubled, and in need of a blessing. How can God use you and me this week to bless someone?
Who is God putting in your life this week that needs a helping hand?
When Jesus quoted Isaiah 61 what was He trying to tell all the pious religious leaders about priorities?