Jesus, the Missionary

Jesus launched his mission of establishing God’s kingdom in the synagogue in Nazareth by reading from Isaiah chapter 61 v 1, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

The impact, however, came when Jesus concluded, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus reveals he is the anointed one, then produces three amazing years demonstrating it. From that moment, Jesus did exactly what Isaiah 61 said he would.

Jesus’ life and teaching reveal that the poor are not just those without money. They are the sick, prisoners, those with low social status—including people whose poor life choices denied them acceptance in religious circles. Jesus deliberately befriended and ministered to those who were marginalised.

Who are these people in our communities? Perhaps they are newly arrived to our country; the elderly, whose security is under threat through declining health or finances; the lonely; those who have lost their work through Covid; the sick, both physically or mentally; the student who is bullied; or minority ethnic groups. Could it be that Jesus’ mission is more than a calling limited to his time on earth? Is it also an invitation to us?

Nothing was hidden from Jesus. He knew people’s motives and their life stories in a way that we can’t, and only he can heal lives spiritually, lives that are disrupted by brokenness and sin.  In Luke Ch 24 v 47–48, Jesus calls his disciples to be his witnesses. Jesus reminded them that they should proclaim forgiveness of sins, in his name, to all nations. This message transforms lives!

Jesus’ life, death, burial and resurrection are central to his mission and to the message we share. And the way Jesus exercised his mission over that three-year journey, with compassion and care and honesty, demonstrates how we are to reach people with the good news. 1 John 2 v 6 says, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”

I have seen that where these priorities have been adopted, whether in Congo or in New Zealand, people have been transformed and communities awakened to the gospel’s power to save the soul.

Murray Stevenson