The answer to my riddle
In my last blog I posed a riddle –to find the psalm that elaborated on the mission statement of Jesus recorded in Luke. I gave you one hint –that it was about the chesed, or loving kindness of God. I could have made it easier by telling you that the psalm was probably written after Israel had been released from Babylonian captivity.
It was Psalm 107 – a psalm all about experiencing God and seeing His love at work. A psalm that is summarised in the mission statement of Jesus in Luke 4:18-19, but there is one vital difference and I’ll get to that.
The psalmist (and it probably wasn’t David who wrote this psalm) starts out saying: Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever (Psa. 107:1). Then follows a series of 4 scenarios that describe in more detail just how God shows that love. Some of the most common heartbreaks of human life are singled out and we are told how people suffering these things have had their prayers answered purely because of the love and mercy of God.
And what are the most common things that humans suffer from?
1. Being abandoned. Wandering and lost. Unwanted. Hungry and thirsty. (Vv2-9).
2. Being trapped and unable to escape. Imprisoned. Fearful. Desolate. Chained and controlled. (Vv10-16).
3. Sickness. (Vv17-22).
4. Danger from the forces of our natural environment. (Vv 23-32).
In every case, when these disasters became so extreme that they cried out to God, then God answered their prayers and delivered them – not because of their faithfulness (far from it, as this psalm points out so graphically) but because of the very nature of God to be kind.
The psalmist is clear that it is because of our sins that we have these disasters coming down on us. God owes us nothing but when we cry out to Him, He listens and delivers us.
So how does this relate to Jesus’ mission statement in the synagogue?
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favour has come (Luke 4:18-19). Look carefully at those words.
Jesus has very clearly said that He brings good news to the poor –the hungry and lost. That He will release the captives. Those suffering with physical ailments will be healed. That God’s favour will be upon all who turn to Him.
We are living in that time of Divine favour. We are living under the blessings that Jesus brought to us. We are free from sin and its effects and we have been released from the captivity that sin had us in. Once we call out to God, He hears us and we are saved.
This is the big difference to what the psalmist related. No longer do we have to suffer and then remember to call on God for help. In Jesus’ kingdom we are living under a different rule – we are already under favour and instead of calling out to God when sickness strikes, we claim the blessings that have already been given to us.
It all comes down to trusting in our Saviour who delivered us from sin and its consequences.
All quotations are from the NLT.