When Jesus stood in front of the synagogue in Nazareth he read from the book of Isaiah, starting in chapter 61:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…” (61:1-2a)
When I (Daniel) think about Jesus’ ministry, I am struck with the variety of experiences that Jesus had. He preached as far north as Caesarea Philippi, and traveled at least as far south as the city of Jerusalem. He traveled from village to village in Galilee. Matthew tells us that “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people” (4:23). Jesus proclaimed the Gospel. He also brought healing and freedom. He restored sight to the blind, he healed the sick, he made the paralyzed walk, he sat with those that the world rejected, and he ate with both sinners and Pharisees. Jesus’ ministry covered a wide gambit of experiences. For Jesus it wasn’t just about teaching, although that was important. Jesus also came to serve, to love, and to show mercy. For Jesus, his mission did not consist only of preaching and teaching; he also loved and served.
Where the Gospel is, there is healing and wholeness.
Rene Padilla is a theologian in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has written extensively about the misión integral. It is what we often refer to in English as “holistic mission,” covering aspect of both preaching and community development. Many Christian groups think you have to focus on one area or the otherñ Christianity is either only about social justice and welfare or spiritual salvation. Misión integral focuses on both areas, emphasizing both the proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel through word and action. Padilla emphasized the mission of Jesus as his foundation for this theology: the Son of Man made a point of preaching and bringing shalom (wholeness and peace), and Christians should follow his example.
Today we are talking about the idea of “mercy.” We are trying to discern how God might want us to extend his mercy into the world. There are lots of ways in which we can participate in God’s mission of mercy; as we will (hopefully) discover today, the goal is simply to see what God might have placed on your heart or gifted you for. Today, let’s dream together about how we might participate personally and congregationally in God’s mission of mercy.
Every human need… may be used by the Spirit of God as a beachhead for the manifestation of his kingly power. That is why in actual practice the question of which comes first, evangelism or social action, is irrelevant. In every concrete situation the needs themselves provide the guidelines for the definition of priorities. As long as both evangelism and social responsibility are regarded as essential to mission, we need no rule of thumb to tell us which comes first and when. – C. René Padilla