Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Missional Jesus 3

posted by xscot mcknight

With Mary and John Baptist now watching from the sideline (as it were), Jesus becomes the center stage as we work our way through the themes connected to Missional Jesus.
No better place to begin that Luke 4:16-30.
1. Missional Jesus publicly announces the centrality of himself to the mission of God (4:21).
2. Missional Jesus sees his own mission in Isa 61:1-2, that means his mission involves justice for the poor, prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed.
[Note: Jesus sounds like Mary and John Baptist.]
3. The mission of Jesus is a Jubilee mission (4:19).
4. The mission of Jesus creates disturbances and rejection (4:24).
5. Homies reject Jesus (4:24-29).
6. The mission of Jesus will extend beyond the normal boundaries.
Luke 4:16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”f
Luke 4:20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
Luke 4:23 Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”
Luke 4:24 “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “prophets are not accepted in their hometowns. 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosyg in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”
Luke 4:28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

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posted June 20, 2007 at 8:54 am

This is related to this post and the previous posts with Mary and John the Baptist. When people talk about “justice” for the poor, especially in America, I think there’s too often going to be a disconnect. What I see in the OT, Mary, J-B, Jesus and the whole NT is something like this: God, the King, is being merciful, and everyone lives, if at all, in this life and in the one to come, by his mercy. Therefore, in showing mercy to all, He now insists on everyone being merciful. Mercy is the law. (i.e., Mercy *is* the not-so-new justice). This, of course, would be ‘good news’ to the poor and often bad news to the rich. It seems to be perfectly consistent with Mary, J-B, and Jesus, the early church, but maybe I’m missing something.
But, for most people, even most evangelicals, ‘justice for the poor’ by itself doesn’t make any sense. They think, negatively, of entitlement programs and all that’s associated with them, and become more distant to the poor. If, though, we talk about love or mercy as the new law, with the bountiful and colorful support we have in the NT for that, we might make more headway, both ecumenically and along class lines.

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posted June 20, 2007 at 9:52 am

Hi T,
Good comments. I suppose the thinking is that if the poor received justice they wouldn’t need mercy. I think we are being merciful to outselves when we practice mercy, by which I mean it is an act that benefits both giver and recipient. Otherwise, it can become noblesse oblige, tossing pocket change to the pitiful needy who are beneath us. We all need mercy and we all need to practice mercy.

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John W Frye

posted June 20, 2007 at 10:15 am

I like the fact that Jesus, empowered by the Spirit (at his baptism) and guided by the Scriptures (Isa. 61), entered into his public vocation depending on the same resources available to us, i.e., the Spirit and the Word.
Mary, J-B, and Jesus emphatically present the here-and-now *sociological* dimensions of salvation. We evangelicals choke on that, it seems to me. We want *eternal souls saved,* and maybe we will care about the poor with left-over time and resources.

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posted June 20, 2007 at 1:41 pm

Thanks. I totally agree that when we show mercy to others we are doing ourselves a big service. I wish we all believed that more. The anti-consumerism mantra! But I don’t think it’s true that if the poor, or anyone else, received justice then they wouldn’t need mercy, assuming we think of ‘justice’ as something other than mercy, as something that is based on what is inherently deserved or owed–that’s how most folks I know think of ‘justice’. (I realize that ‘justice’ biblically is the generally same word as righteous, meaning acting rightly within the covenant, which is part of my point, since our covenant is one of grace.)
I guess what I’m getting at is that we typically fail to appreciate all that comes to us, not by right, but by mercy. We don’t realize the branch we’re all sitting on. That’s the foundation of Jesus’ economic teaching in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere (i.e., the Father will give you all these things you’re so concerned about . . .). If we did appreciate and trust the very active grace of God, we would be much more merciful. We would see ourselves as poor without ongoing mercy. This proverb hits it at the gut level: “The rich and the poor have this in common: God gives light to the eyes of both.” Sight isn’t ours by right. It’s just another instance of God being kind. We all live off of undeserved kindness in thousands upon thousands of ways. Similarly, we would all starve on justice (even Bill Gates), if ‘justice’ is only that which we are entitled to by right. Again, I think this is good news to the poor, and offensive/scary to the rich.
If someone chooses not to show me mercy, they won’t answer to me, but to the One who showed them so much mercy every day, and placed the command of mercy on them. That’s the ‘justice’ that Jesus was big on announcing that I think evangelicals and Americans in general will respond to, more than a naked call for ‘justice for the poor’.

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Scot McKnight

posted June 20, 2007 at 3:11 pm

I would not dispute your point about our overall dependency on God’s mercy. However, in the Bible justice for the poor isn’t simply swallowed up in a larger “we are dependent upon God” theme. There is, in fact, some radical distribution of goods that shapes this theme — like gleaning and Jubilee and almsgiving and God’s “favortism” for the poor. A good place to start? Ron Sider’s Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. Whether one agrees or not, the evidence is examined freshly.

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posted June 20, 2007 at 3:33 pm

again a great post. i think that JC’s mission statement in Luke from Isa is right on. the evangelical world seems to see JCs only mission as that of the cross. but there is so much more. to truly understand His role as Redeemer, we must realize that He came to bring restoration to this world and then the next. but without transforming this world, we are missing much of JCs mission.
a great look at the transformation of this world that comes through Christ (and us as His disciples) is a look at the Passover Seder. there JC fulfills the Passover Lamb, but also He brings community that the meal provides. and more importantly, He shares this food (physical and spiritual) with those around Him (and now we are to do the same).

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posted June 20, 2007 at 6:57 pm

Hi. Yes, I agree with you, I think. I think justice is one of those elastic terms and as I was writing the prior post, it occured to me that I wasn’t talking about the justice of getting what we deserve from God, but about something more like just-ness, a distribution of goods with some recognition that most of what we have, as you point out, is from God’s mercy and grace, so in some sense not “ours” to give but God’s for us to distribute. It seems to me that to feed the poor, etc, isn’t optional and I believe you agree.

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Tim Markle

posted June 20, 2007 at 8:45 pm

Thank you for not neglecting the money end of justice. As I wrestle with how to serve and help the poor, a friend has helped me to see how far from poor I really am. I can sell my house and live in a community home. I can give away money. I can let my cars be used by whomever asked. I could lose my job and not have an income. Yet, I will always have my family, my education, my friends and so much more. Justice for me is giving people who have not even had the chance to succeed, the chance. Being real and honest and not trying to pretend I am impoverished.
I am seeing the Missional Jesus as even more radical than the Jesus I know. I look around and see so many people oppressed by racism and poverty. I want to be a part of their freedom through Christ.

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posted June 21, 2007 at 10:49 am

Yes. I absolutely agree. Maybe the problem that people on the traditional ‘left’ side of this issue have with the phrase ‘mercy for the poor’ is that we fear that mercy is perceived as optional or small in scope, while ‘justice’ implies that whatever we must do for the poor is mandatory. It’s similar to my issue with the phrase ‘justice for the poor': My concern isn’t the mandatory part of justice, but that people will think of American/Western/capitalist ‘justice’ which, literally, imposes no positve obligation at all on me for my neighbor or even the man bleeding on the side of the road. American justice says that I have the right to ignore people in need. But according to God, both ‘mercy’ and ‘justice’ are different: love is literally his law, and to be just is to love as he practices and defines it.
I think we have the same concern of each term not going far enough in our context despite the biblical conceptions. But, yes, mercy, not just in the heart but also in the hand, is not optional for people who have received so much mercy of every possible form from the King (which is everyone and every institution and authority structure.) Maybe part of what people are thinking with the ‘justice’ terminology is that current legal systems need also to be adjusted (like the Jubilee, interest charges, gleaning, etc.), and that ‘mercy’ implies only individual (not institutional) response. I can see that, but I think every person and power has a responsibility to act with the the grace God has and continues to hold things together with, or will give an account for why they didn’t do so. Our first amendment is great, but it does not excuse anyone (from Christ’s perspective) from structuring and governing a society in a way that works against his goals and value structure. I know that poses other interesting and difficult questions, and I’m not talking about legistating something as impossible as agape, but His lordship and value structure are facts every individual and power structure would be wise to deal with. Is this what Mary was saying? That all powers were on notice of the real King?
Thanks for the conversation.

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Dave Marriott

posted June 23, 2007 at 2:42 am

“Missional Jesus sees his own mission in Isa 61:1-2, that means his mission involves justice for the poor, prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed.”
Do you find it interesting that Jesus stops short of quoting verse 2. Not that there were verse markers in the text from which He was quoting, but isn’t it interesting that he stopped mid-sentence?
I think the focus of the prophecy is not what Jesus is doing, but I rather see it as a prophetical marker to point out: hey, Messiah is here folks; a new era in God’s plan is about to unfold. But wait, it’s not time for vengeance yet, that part isn’t fulfilled until later.

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Scott M

posted June 23, 2007 at 8:55 am

Dave, I think you’re placing too much emphasis on the bit quoted in the text. Both in biblical (you see it in Paul all the time) and extra-biblical texts, a small bit of the referenced text was quoted in order to evoke the entire passage. It’s similar to what we do by referencing the chapter division to which we’re referring. When a bit is quoted, you typically need to go back and read the entire passage from which that bit is taken.

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Dave Marriott

posted June 23, 2007 at 2:29 pm

Coherant answer. Thanks. I’m not sure that I agree on this particular verse, but your answer is logical as well. Thanks.

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