(This article can also we found on our website at
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This touching base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community.
All of us have experiences in life where we can remember exactly where we were when we heard the news of a particular event. Think of some major events and share with the group where you were (if you were born at the time).
Where were you when...
… JFK was assassinated?
… Elvis died?
… the Challenger exploded?
… Princess Diana died?
Make it a little more personal. Where were you when you heard the news of a close family member dying?
On Sunday we looked at Jesus’ very memorable words in the synagogue, in the town He grew up in (Luke 4:14-21). This was an event such that people would definitely remember where they were when it occurred. Jesus was declaring Himself to be the Messiah, the one they had been waiting for. Synagogues were scattered across the Galilean countryside, and were a means of keeping hope alive that the Messiah would come.
As Theophilus (the recipient of this letter - Luke 1:1-4) read v. 18-19 in the context of the entire letter, he would note that there were two sides of a coin.
Poverty - while being physical and visible, this also referred to a poverty of righteousness seen in the many scenes of Luke. Note what John said to the tax collectors and soldiers (3:12, 14); note what he says to Herod (3:19,20); Note what Luke points out about the religious leaders and the crowds – Luke 6:11, Luke 6:24-26,
Prisoners - Every Jew knew what prison felt like. From heavy taxation to a Roman population of 1.2 million where 50% were slaves, they lived it every day. Yet Theophilus would discover two sides of a coin. Luke 24:45-47, Romans 6:22, 23, Gal. 3:22 - What do these verses reveal about the other side of the coin?
Blind - While there were many physically blind people, the other side of the coin demonstrated a more severe kind of blindness. Acts 26:15-18, 2 Cor. 4:4
Oppressed - This is a word that refers to those that are bruised, like broken pottery that is shattered and scattered. Again Theophilus would see Jesus ministering in the context of broken pottery. However, the other side of the coin showed that Christ Himself was bruised and beaten (See Luke’s reference to crucifixion). But the difference between our suffering and His was that His made forgiveness, healing, hope, and rescue possible and dealt with the root cause of so much pain and suffering - sin. Luke 24:45-47.
Talk about this image below and how it illustrates the four highlighted words above.
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour - This is where Jesus stops in quoting Isaiah 61. Read the article below that helps us understand why Jesus stopped where he did:
“And a day of vengeance of our God” (Isa. 61:2b). Jesus had not come to condemn, but to save. Our Lord understood that His role as Messiah was to come twice, the first time to reveal God to men, and to provide a way of salvation. The second coming was to bring God’s judgment to the earth and to destroy His enemies. Our Lord’s use of this text in Isaiah reflects this distinction between His first coming as Messiah, and His second.”
In quoting Isaiah 61, Jesus clearly demonstrated that his agenda (and consequently the Church’s agenda) is to deal with both sides of the coin. We must engage with the physical realities that demonstrate the brokenness of our world, but we must also aim higher in dealing with the spiritual side - the good news of Christ’s redeeming work on the cross.
Talk about what happens when we ignore one side of the coin as a church or as individual believers. What are the consequences of an unbalanced message? Note the positive contributions of Christianity to alleviate human suffering and inequality throughout the centuries. What might you add?
- Hospitals, which essentially began during the Middle Ages
- Universities, which also began during the Middle Ages. In addition, most of the world’s greatest universities were started by Christians for Christian purposes
- Literacy and education for the masses
- Representative government
- Civil liberties
- The abolition of slavery, both in antiquity and in more modern times
- Modern science
- The elevation of women
- Benevolence of charity; the “good Samaritan” ethic
- Higher standard of justice
- High regard for human life
- The codifying and setting to writing of many of the world’s languages
- Greater development of art and music. The inspiration for the greatest works of art.
Discuss the following statements
“Efforts at social improvement that neglect this great goal will be looked back on by poor people in hell as a horrible form of ecclesiastical malpractice.” John Piper
“Yet without a social conscience and attention given by the Church to the physical needs that surround us, our audience may never be willing to listen to the other side of the coin.” Yours Truly.
Pray for each other that as you move through your world that you would know what side of the coin to emphasize. Pray that Bethel would boldly live out both sides.
“This was the work of Jesus himself: to heal the sick, feed the hungry, give sight to the blind, care for the poor; give righteousness to the scandalous and scandalize the self-righteous; give hope to the hopeless and love to the loveless. And he's not done yet.” John Ortberg