I’ve been reading in the ESV Readers Bible, and I am somewhere in Luke — not exactly sure where (that’s the point, right?). Anyway, John the baptizer has just sent two of his disciples to try to find out whether Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah (since he has been doing all sorts of amazing things).
John’s disciples say: “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” The text says that
In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered them,
Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.
Notice this — there are six types of people in distress: “blind,” “lame,” “lepers,” “deaf,” “dead” (“distressed” might not be the best word for dead people), and “poor.” The first five are given what we would expect a true miracle worker to give:
- the blind receive their sight,
- the lame walk,
- lepers are cleansed,
- the deaf hear,
- the dead are raised up
But the sixth receives something quite unexpected — it is not “and the poor are given food,” or “the poor are given money,” or even “the needs of the poor are met.” Instead, Jesus says
the poor have good news [the word is “gospel”] preached to them.
Only one who is authoritatively the Messiah* would be so bold as to give something of eternal value where there are more “immediate” needs.
I draw two conclusions:
- Even in this time of crisis, we need to give “good news” to those in distress, even as we need those immediate needs.
- We need to remember that life is more than what we consume.**
*The numbers and the cross-references can have great value, of course, as they help us keep track of what we learn — if you can find Isaiah 26:19; 29:18-19; 35:5-6; and 61:1, you will see that these acts are part of the redemption that the Lord promises to bring about.
**I’m pretty sure I read that second point about a fourth of the way through Matthew, but I can’t find it now.