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Written by Jim Jordal   
Monday, 28 December 2009

THE SEVEN-FOLD MISSION OF JESUS

By Jim Jordal

During the past Christmas season we sang many beautiful songs and pondered several prophetic Scripture passages promising universal deliverance, joy, peace and justice to follow from the birth of Jesus. The Christmas message is a powerful statement of Divine presence reaching down to the creation in human form. But unfortunately most of us push these blessed events off into the future messianic kingdom, not realizing that we can do something to bring them into at least a small degree of fruition right now.

Jesus came to earth with a purpose and a mission. The fourth chapter of Luke contains the first sermon of Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth. Drawing from the writings of Isaiah, Jesus revealed his mission on earth in seven distinct phrases.

First, he attributed what he was to say to his anointing by the Spirit of the Lord. That means he spoke using the wisdom of God and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. If you’ve ever heard a sermon like that, it’s unforgettable, as was that of Jesus. In fact, this sermon was so powerful it motivated the assembled forces of tradition and ritual to attempt his death. It must have been quite a sermon.

Jesus went on to say that he was anointed to "preach the gospel to the poor." You can discount that mission by claiming that the "poor" were those who did not know God’s truth, and there is perhaps a bit of truth in that. But if you consider the context of Isaiah’s other writings and the further teachings of Jesus, then you might conclude that his mission was truly to preach the gospel or good news of deliverance from poverty and oppression to the poor in the classic economic definition of the term.

Then he said he came to "heal the brokenhearted." He didn’t mean just those sorrowing over illness and death. He meant also those broken by the Roman and Jewish temple domination system of the day, which preyed financially, politically and spiritually upon the common people. Isaiah earlier described a similar system of organized oppression as "grinding the faces" of the poor, a very apt description for the actions of all domination systems..

Then Jesus said he was to "proclaim liberty to the captives." The captives were those ensnared by the social and economic stratification system of the day that gave all power to the Roman/temple dominators and kept common people in ignorance and subjection.

He then promised "recovery of sight to the blind." Common people were "blind" because they could not see beyond political and military resistance to the domination system. What they needed to see was the vision of the Jubilee promise of deliverance through the institution of justice and righteousness upon earth.

He further promised "to set at liberty those who are oppressed." Many forms of oppression existed in those days—political, military, economic, social, and religious being among them. The liberty he offered was more psychological and spiritual than it was physical, but this new freedom of mind and spirit provided hope to carry the people through the dark days of Roman rule and onward into the kingdom of God, which they felt was soon to come.

The seven-fold list ends with his promise "to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord," a direct reference to the Year of Jubilee as detailed in Leviticus 25. Biblical Jubilee sets up an economic system good for people rather than the holders of power and good for the earth rather than the manipulators of money.

Today we often apply the term "Jubilee" to the debt relief provisions allowed by the Western-dominated International Monetary Fund to perhaps 50 heavily indebted developing nations. But the term means much more than mere debt relief—it also means deliverance from the predatory financial systems that create the need of people and nations to take on debt in the first place. Yes, some people will fall into poverty and debt even under Jubilee. The difference is that debt will no longer be able to subvert justice, oppress individuals and nations, and be, as the prophet Jeremiah says, "the hammer of the whole earth."

Jesus concluded with the revelation that ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." He said that the "power source" is now with you, and you can begin in my name to conquer these evil forces I have identified. The same is true today. Every time you act against injustice and oppression you are carrying out the mission of Jesus and helping to bring about his kingdom here on ear