It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the busiest. And because of the busyness of the Christmas season, we can sometimes lose sight of what’s most important.
When you observe people during the holidays, you can tell that they’re on a mission. Starting on Black Friday, it seems like their on a constant pursuit for the perfect present. They trample over others for doorbusters, cut people off in the parking lots, and they rush to the store on Christmas Eve to begin shopping (especially all the guys). And in addition to the shopping are the parties and family get-togethers. In the busyness of our Christmas missions, we can forget about the mission of Jesus and why He came. Thankfully, the Messiah told us His Mission:
“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).
Empowered and Anointed by the Holy Spirit
On one Sabbath day, Jesus stood in the synagogue and read from Isaiah 61:1-2 and 58:6, which are prophecies about the coming Messiah. When He finished, He said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke. 4:20-21). By saying this, Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, the anointed One. As the Messiah, Jesus was empowered by the Holy Spirit and was anointed and set apart for a special service: to proclaim good news, healing, liberty, and the year of the Lord’s favor.
Each of these tasks are connected to the four metaphors. He uses them to depict the condition of those whom He is to rescue on His mission: the poor, captive, blind, and oppressed. And in doing so, He proclaimed the year of the Lord’s favor—His coming as the Messiah.
Good News to the Poor
What is this “good news”? It is the gospel—the message that spiritually impoverished people can receive salvation. The word poor comes from a verb that means “to cringe” and “to shrink back.” It doesn’t refer to those who work and are in poverty, but to those who are extremely deprived, like Lazarus the beggar (Luke 16:20). Jesus certainly preached and ministered to those who were economically poor, but He came to do more—to proclaim good news to those who are spiritually poor, the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3).
The poor Jesus refers to are those who declare spiritual bankruptcy; those who admit that they have no spiritual value or worth before God and that they are in desperate need of a Savior. Sinful beggars can become children of God and heirs of Christ (Romans 8:17) because of the grace of the Savior!
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Liberty to the Captives
Jesus was sent to proclaim liberty to the captives, meaning that He was to free sinners from their spiritual bondage to sin and Satan. Isaiah 42:7 states that the Messiah would “bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,” and “from the prison those who sit in darkness.” Because sinners are slaves of sin (John 8:34), they need Jesus to free them from it. How does Jesus do this? By paying the penalty for their violation of God’s law; “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14).
Recovery of Sight to the Blind
Because of sin, all of humanity is spiritually blind, meaning that they cannot see the truth of who God is. As Psalm 82:5 states, “They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness.” Satan has blinded their minds to keep them from seeing the light (2 Corinthians 4:4). But this is exactly why Jesus came: “to open the eyes that are blind” (Isaiah. 42:7), so that those who trust in “the light of the world” “will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Liberty to the Oppressed
The liberty Jesus refers to is freedom from spiritual oppression for those who are oppressed by life’s overwhelming circumstances—namely, the weary weight and burden of sin and the inability to obey God’s law. The spiritually oppressed are those who mourn over their sin, and because Jesus sets such people free, they are the ones who are then comforted (Matthew 5:4).
Proclaim the Year of the Lord’s Favor
Jesus proclaimed the year of the Lord’s favor by bringing about the long-awaited promise of the “day of salvation” and the “year of redemption” (Isaiah 49:8; 63:4). As Galatians 4:4-5 states, “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Jesus came at the precise time to provide the perfect promise of salvation.
After claiming to be the Messiah, everyone in the synagogue fixed their eyes on Jesus, “And all spoke well of Him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from His mouth” (Luke 4:22). Even though they responded positively at first, they soon responded negatively after Jesus confronted them on their self-righteousness, for they were unwilling to admit that they were spiritually poor, captive, blind, and oppressed. Then they sought to kill Him.
Like Jesus’ audience, many people respect Christ in some manner during Christmas, but they do not see their spiritual need for Him as poor, blind, oppressed prisoners of sin. They marvel at the idea of Christmas, but not at the Christ of Christmas; they listen to the stories and sing the songs, but they do not believe His claims as the Messiah. May this not be true of you!
This Christmas, reflect on the Messiah’s mission. Remember how He came to give the good news of salvation to the spiritually poor, to liberate enslaved sinners, to give sight to the spiritually blind, and to free the oppressed. He came to save you! Like this be your prayer this Christmas:
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15).