Jesus Christ defined the people He came for when He preached at the synagogue in Nazareth. Quoting the Prophet Isaiah, He said,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19 (ESV)
I think we tend to assume that the Lord was just waxing poetic, that really, of course, He came for everyone, perhaps with a special emphasis on the poor, the captive, the blind and the oppressed. But in the following chapters, Luke shows the Lord ministering to this very group of people.
- He casts the demon out of the oppressed man.
- He calls the half-wit disciples.
- He cleanses the leper and heals the paralytic.
- He shows up at a party for broken transgressors.
- He ministers grace and forgiveness to the sinful woman.
Luke is making a point. It’s not just that Jesus came with a special emphasis on hurting and needy people. It’s that these are the only people He came for. The powerful and the rich? The people who “had it altogether?” Not so much.
And the lesson for us is clear – the prerequisite to receiving help from the Lord is to recognize our weakness. As Tim Keller once said,
“If you want God’s grace, all you need is need, all you need is nothing. But that kind of spiritual humility is hard to muster. We come to God saying, ‘Look at all I’ve done…'” Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller
Keller puts his finger on the problem so many people have that keeps them from receiving Jesus’ help: They don’t come to Him needy. In fact, they don’t come to Him at all. Why should they? If anything, these people reason, He should come to me. After all, “Look at all I’ve done.”
But Jesus did not come for people who were at the top of their game. He came for people who knew they were broken.
In other words, He came for people who knew…they needed Him.
For Tuesday, July 7th: Luke 5