The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. (Luke 4:18-19)
On the way to Jerusalem, there’s these two parallel accounts of despised or marginalized people coming to Jesus, and the Lord gladly receiving them despite the opposition of others. A blind man cries out to Jesus as He passes by and everyone tells him to shut up, but he continues to cry out! Jesus has him brought over and heals him. Zaccheus was a chief tax collector, an extortioner and swindler who overtaxed his own people for the Romans and mistreated them. He wanted to see Jesus as He passed by, but was too short, so he climbs a tree. Jesus sees him and, despite the outraged crowd, stays at his house, leading Zaccheus to do a complete 180, with Jesus celebrating his salvation!
The Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost. In other words, He’s come to bring justice and love to the poor and the broken, like the blind beggar or wicked Zaccheus, people that others despise, silence, and push away. The Bible talks a lot about justice and righteousness, so what are they? Righteousness (tsedaqah) is a uniquely human responsibility that refers to treating people with the dignity and respect they deserve as humans, God’s image-bearers, no matter who they are. Justice (mishpat) is going a step further, seeking out people who’ve been mistreated, oppressed, and abused, actively restoring them to equal status by opposing injustice and creating spaces for equality and love.
The Gospel revolves around justice. The whole reason the Son of God came into the world was to proclaim Good News to the poor and freedom for the oppressed! When the Lord came to Solomon at the beginning of his reign to ask him what he would ask God for, Solomon realized that he had no idea how to lead a nation well, to rule justly. So, he asked God for wisdom to discern good and evil, to know what justice looks like (1 Kings 3:3-13) That should be our prayer! We’ve been commissioned in Christ to be messengers and living models of this Gospel of justice and righteousness, and we need His wisdom so we can see as He sees, and discern His definition of right and wrong.
After Paul celebrates the Thessalonians’ faithfulness and hope in Jesus, he encourages them to continue growing in love and holiness. He urges them to work towards sexual purity and holiness, as well as love for others, especially one another (1 Thessalonians 3:11-4:12). In the same way, the Lord is urging me to be a minister of the Gospel of Justice, seeing in everyone the value and love He has for them, regardless of their appearance, sin, or lifestyle.
- The Gospel is the Good News of justice and love for the poor and unlovable through Jesus Christ. As citizens of the Kingdom and disciples filled with His Spirit, we are called to be wise discerners and powerful, loving agents of the Messiah’s supernatural justice and grace to any and everyone who comes in repentance and faith!
But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5:24)