About His Business
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me (the Messiah), Because He has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent Me to announce release (pardon, forgiveness) to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed (downtrodden, bruised, crushed by tragedy),
It was one of those moments that you’d give anything to have witnessed in person. It was an announcement that people had longed to hear for countless generations, but it was such good news that many in the room that day refused to believe it. In one of His first acts in His ministry, Jesus walked into a synagogue and picked up the scroll of Scripture to read. He unrolled it and read Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah’s role to comfort, heal, free and restore wounded and oppressed people(Isaiah 61:1,2). The people listening had hear this passage dozens of times before, but today would be different.
Jesus finished reading, handed the scroll back to the attendant, looked out at the faces looking back at Him, and said, “I’m that person. That was written about me. I’m here to do all those things In people’s lives, and if you believe, they’ll happen in your life(Luke 4:21).
Someone in the audience questioned how Jesus could possibly be the promised Messiah, and after some back and forth dialogue, the people were angry with Jesus. In fact they were so angry that they wanted to kill Him! Ironic, isn’t it? They threatened to take the life of the One who came to give life,to hurt the One who came to heal. Why did they respond this way? Because now the long-awaited promise had arrived, and now they had to choose to believe or doubt. Many chose to doubt because believing required too much of them.
Jesus was about His Father’s business that day. Some believed, some doubted. He’s still about His Father’s business today. Do you believe?
If God calls you to be a missionary, don’t stoop to be a king.
In his story, Scrooge, Charles Dickens has the ghost of Jacob Marley to say, “Mankind was my business.” What Christ defined as the Father’s business and His, has been given to us, the church to complete. Matthew tells us that Christ pronounced that He had been given all authority and we were to go in His name declaring the gospel and making disciples; teaching them to follow the instructions and teachings of Christ.
The most important work any person can engage in is the work of eternity. None of our other accomplishments are as vital as that of introducing people to Christ. The first, primary work of the church-His body is evangelism. We dare not substitute any other activity or work in its place.
Many express concern about the decline in the number of professing Christians. Only about 6% of the worlds population identify as Christian. That means that 94 out of a hundred people don’t know Christ. With such numbers, it seems that we the people of God have incredible opportunities that we aren’t engaging. Why are we seeing such a disparity between those who need to know Christ and the decline in the church? I think it’s because we’ve engaged in almost every other activity instead of engaging in evangelism.
Many reasons(excuses) are given for not doing the work of Jesus. We’ve even dared to distort that work, making it about temporal things rather than eternal matters. It’s easy to meet people’s physical and social needs. We can feed a hungry person and go our way. We can clothe the naked, provide education opportunities, teach people a skill and many other good things but that’s not the work of Christ. His work is the work of redemption.
In a few days we will celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ. Let us pause and ask ourselves what Christ hoped to accomplish with the crucifixion. Did He hang on the cross to bless us in this world, to satisfy our need for this life? I think not. When we read those words He shouted from the cross, “It is finished,” what exactly had He finished? He finished the work of our redemption. No more would we have to sacrifice sheep for our sins. No more would we have to perform specific rituals to belong to the kingdom of God. A “new and living way” was opened for us to have access to God. A bridge was built between God and humans through Christ. His work, the penalty of sin paid, was finished but the work of His body had just begun. We, too, have been called to the work of Christ as defined in Isaiah and Luke. We are to take up the mantle of ministry. We are to seek out the lost, the oppressed, the prisoner and give them the good news of a Savior who died for them so that they might live eternally.
It is the work and mission of every Christian to share the gospel message to those who haven’t heard. It’s not the work of a select few, pastors, evangelists, or missionaries, but each believer, each Christian has been commissioned to be ambassadors of Christ, going in His name, proclaiming His message, and doing His work.
The people listening to Jesus became angry that day because He brought near to them what they had held at a distance. It’s easy to say, “Some day…” but when it’s looking you in the face, you have to choose how you will respond. I’ve observed that as long as we can push the business of God forward in time-kicking the can down the road- we can remain comfortable. But when we can’t kick the can any farther, we get frustrated and upset. I realize that this is the world in which we live. It seems we are running out of space and time to keep kicking the can. The response isn’t any different now than in Jesus’ day. Anger, the blame game, diversion and distraction are the normal responses. In our meetings we find many causes on which to lay the blame for the de-Christianization of the world. The truth is that the church has either engaged in every activity except the business of God or it has done nothing.
The potential of a strong thriving church is a reality only if every member makes a choice. We can have an incredible future if and only if we respond to the call of Christ and the Great Commission.
Will you join with me this Holy Week, as we think about how far God went to redeem us, and will you commit your life to the work of God? Will you ask God for the infilling of the Holy Spirit to give you power and boldness to- in Paul’s words- “preach Christ”?
If we will believe and act on what Jesus taught us to do, we will see friends and loved ones numbered among those who gather around the throne on that day. If we choose to ignore, walk away, resent the call to the business of God, we will continue to see increasing encroaching darkness upon our land.
Dr. John Thompson