“He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”
— Luke 4:18
As a teacher, I have often asked my students, “Why was Jesus born?” Invariably they answer by leap-frogging over his life to his death: “Jesus was born to die so that we can be saved and one day enter heaven.” And these students are often surprised when I suggest that this answer, which is correct, is also incomplete and misses a lot of good news. Jesus, I explain to them, was actually born not only to die but to live! He was born to take on the mission of bringing the kingdom of God into this world. This kingdom is marked by love for God and neighbor, justice, peace, joy, and the restoration of shalom.
In Luke 4 Jesus describes what it meant to be the Messiah (the “Anointed One”). Anointed by the Spirit, he had come to announce the presence of the kingdom of God, to speak good news to the poor, to announce freedom for the captives, release for the oppressed, and the year of the Lord’s favor, a year of Jubilee. That was his mission.
It is important to accept the gift of Jesus’ offering his life for our salvation. And it is equally important to marvel at his life and to ask the Holy Spirit to anoint us too—so that we can follow him in his mission of justice and mercy.
God of grace, thank you for the gift of Jesus and the life he lived to show us the way of the kingdom of God. In his name, Amen.