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Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 14 December 2017

WHAT JESUS COME TO ACCOMPLISH

By Jim Jordal

For to us a child is born. To us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from that time on, even forever. The zeal of Yahweh of Armies will perform this.                                        Isaiah 9:6-7 WEB

At this Christmas season we hear much about baby Jesus as we remember his lowly circumstances and birth in a manger. We sing of his coming and celebrate the promises of his later accomplishments. And we become aware that his arrival did not please everyone because they knew, as did Mary his mother, that things would drastically change as his life unfolded.

Although he was fully human, Jesus was no ordinary man. Mary his mother realized this as she spoke the enduring words of her song in Luke 1:46-56, part of which proclaimed to the world that “He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich he has sent away empty.” No wonder the proud complacent religionists of the day were afraid; they knew he constituted a threat to their prestige and arrogance as they took advantage of their religious positions as temple authorities to rob and cheat the poor and vulnerable. 

It is in the fourth chapter of Luke that the young man Jesus reveals his earthly mission. He says he comes to “preach the gospel to the poor…heal the brokenhearted…proclaim liberty to the captives…recovery of sight to the blind…set at liberty those who are oppressed…proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

These statements by Jesus reveal several things about his life and ministry as he spoke to nations as well as individuals. The gospel he delivered was much more than individual moral philosophy or personal salvation. It was also a new form of righteous rule for entire nations with Christ as King.

The first action of the young Jesus was to “preach the gospel to the poor.” The term “gospel” literally means “good news.” So the good news of the advent was especially promised to the poor. We tend to personalize this promise by claiming it meant good news exclusively to the poor in spirit. Yes, it was for the poor in spirit, but it was also to the financially destitute poor who had been victimized for years by the unholy combination of Roman rulers and Jewish temple authorities.

Another point in Jesus’ ministry was to “proclaim liberty to the captives.” He meant not just slaves and prisoners, but also those sad figures enslaved by centuries of religious tradition and spiritual emptiness under the tutelage of temple authorities bound under Roman authority. So the leaders were as oppressed and afflicted as the followers. Both needed deliverance!

Spiritual blindness arises from a religious heritage that substitutes human ability for wisdom that comes from God through his Holy Spirit. This unfortunate condition went back centuries, and was often the main point of attack by the prophets. Notice that Jesus said he came to bring “recovery of sight to the blind.” Evidently the now-blind people had once possessed the gift of sight, but had lost it over the ages through disobedience in government and formalism in the temple. Whatever the cause, Jesus promised a change in emphasis and spiritual direction and new vision to the sufferers. We today could probably use a good dose of this sort of cure for religious lack of sight.

Jesus closed his teaching with the promise to “proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” He meant the Year of Jubilee instituted by Moses, proclaimed by the prophets, explained and empowered in the Gospels and in the Revelation. Isaiah could not have written as he did in his great prophecy, which we read at Christmas, if he had not already known and studied the Jubilee promises.

We could do a lot more of the same as we realize the power of Jesus the Christ taking upon his shoulders the kingdom government of righteousness and justice upon the earth, just as it is in heaven.