What Is The Mission Of Jesus?

What was the mission of Jesus? Well for starters, the word “mission” simply means to send someone to perform a certain service or carry on an activity. I believe we learn of the mission of Jesus in Luke 4:18-19:

“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, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Right after Jesus was baptized, we find Him in a synagogue teaching as an itinerant rabbi. As was the custom of the day, a scroll either from the law or the prophets was selected and given to Jesus. The Scripture reading for that particular day just so happened to be a prophecy written by Isaiah 700 years before. The prophecy meant something to Isaiah but we discover it also had significance for Jesus. So understanding what Isaiah originally meant by this prophecy is helpful in understanding why Jesus chose this Scripture as a way of summing up his mission.

Isaiah was writing this prophecy to bring hope to the nation of Israel who was being held in captivity by Babylon. This period of exile was preventing Israel from fulfilling their destiny as a nation to be the light of God to all nations. God was reassuring Israel through the prophet with “good news” (“gospel”) that deliverance from exile is imminent. That the year of Jubilee (“the Lord’s favor”), which was celebrated every 50 years, was upon them. This was the year where prisoners were set free, debts were forgiven, and land that had been taken because of debt or war was returned to the original family of owners.

The audience of Jesus knew this text well and the background I just described. They also understood that this prophecy was relevant to the day of Isaiah but also a prophecy about the coming Messiah, who would usher in God’s Kingdom here on earth. Imagine the shock when Jesus then said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). Jesus was making an audacious claim about Himself, His assignment and His impact.

The people of Israel were well acquainted with their prophetic destiny as a nation of influence. The exploits of Moses, Joshua and king David were entrenched in their mindset. In their view, the Messiah who was to come, would offer very real political freedom from their oppressors (which at that time was Rome) through the supernatural signs of Moses, the military brilliance of Joshua, the strength of Samson and the popularity of King David. Jesus was claiming to be their long awaited Messiah, and this was their expectation: political freedom and Kingdom of God justice.

However, Jesus did not fulfill their expectations. Jesus most certainly offered political freedom while addressing injustice, but the weapons and strategies he employed were of an unseen heavenly realm. Jesus was offering something that would have a profound impact in the present moment, but it would also position them for an eternal inheritance. But as Jesus stepped out to fulfill his mission, the key elements of Isaiah’s prophecy were not only fulfilled, but on dazzling display.

Jesus would offer a new governmental system, that He called the “Kingdom of God”, that was now accessible to all, and not just a select few. Hearing and receiving the message of the Kingdom brought about powerful freedom from spiritual and physical oppression. The most undeserving received the most attention and favor. The debt of sin was forgiven as was seen in the supernatural demonstration of healing, demonic deliverance, miraculous provision and wondrous signs. The year, or the epoch, of God’s favor (not judgment), had begun and would continue until the very end of the age. This favor of God would ultimately culminate in Christ’s redemptive death and empowering resurrection. This same favor would then be instilled and displayed in the disciples on the day of Pentecost.

What exactly was the mission of Jesus? What aspects of His mission did He intend for us to continue today? The following provides perspective on these critical questions while providing a radically new vision of what Christian community is all about. Jesus was sent and commissioned by the Father to fulfill the Father’s will. As disciples, we are sent and commissioned by Jesus to continue what He started.

Bryan Finley

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