Program for Planet Earth
Reflecting on Luke 4: 16-21 has shed some light on this matter for me. This passage conveys the essence of Jesus' ministry on earth. I take it as the messianic manifesto of Jesus. According to Luke's notes, Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth and, as was his habit, went to synagogue on Saturday. Jesus got up to read the scroll from the prophet Isaiah: “… and He, opening the book, found the place where it was written:“ The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; for He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor and sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, to the blind, to release the tormented to freedom, to preach the Lord's favorable year. " And closing the book and giving it to the minister, he sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them: Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing ”(Luke 4: 17-21).
Jesus knew exactly who He was, why He had come, and what He had to do. This passage revolutionized my understanding of Jesus' purpose on earth. Jesus' mission was about more than just the salvation of souls. He clearly identified himself with the anointed servant of God, the promised Messiah, the eminent prophet of all time (Heb. 1: 1-4). What did his "program" for planet Earth consist of? And how does it relate to the mission of the Church?
As we read the first few verses in Isaiah 61, we see Jesus declare that he was sent to preach the gospel to the poor — not just financially poor or spiritually poor, but poor in any sense. The good news is for those who are prepared by the Spirit, humble, and able to receive the message of hope. “Has not the poor of the world chosen by God to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom that He has promised to those who love Him?” (James 2: 5).
The church was called to continue Jesus' ministry by bringing the same message of grace and blessing — the good news — to a perishing world. “Good news” means eternal life, but that eternal life begins in this life, so the good news must be translated into “language” that people can understand.
For people in poor conditions, the good news can be translated into food, clothing, shelter, and work. For middle-class people, the good news means something different. A friend, a Roman Catholic priest in El Raso, Texas, once said, "You cannot preach the good news while you yourself are bad news." Go to people and say "Jesus loves you!" and doing nothing to change their circumstance is an incomplete message.
The gospel is fully sufficient for conversion, but wherever the gospel is preached, God wants to set the whole person free, not just his soul. History shows that in this context, the more individuals submit to the kingdom of God, then over time the conditions of individuals, families, nationalities and even nations improve. The preaching of the good news is all inclusive. It is telling people about Jesus and salvation, but also feeding the poor. This is a prayer for the sick and the expulsion of demons. This is serving people with different economic problems. All this is happening under the banner of the "good news."
In a recently written biography of Aimee Semple McPherson, author Daniel Epstein describes the powerful philanthropic ministry of the McPhersons Angelus Temple in Los Angeles during the depression. Many people consider "Sister Amy" a flamboyant evangelist, plagued by scandals. Few know that during the 30s Angelus Temple was the main social, thriving agency in Los Angeles. Hundreds of people received food, clothing, and were led to Christ every week.
Several people from the Anaheim Vineyard devoted an enormous amount of their free time to the ministry in northern Mexico City. The ministry provides practical training for pastors, missionaries, students, so that they, in turn, can serve real needs in that place; such as a balanced diet, healthy water, inexpensive solar energy. Volunteers combine traditional methods of ministry — evangelism, equipping, building — with an approach that blesses the Baja California people with their practical needs.