← Back to Study Guides
Jesus & Justice | The Justice Bringer
January 16, 2022
14And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
16And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”
The pursuit and promise of justice, despite being complex in modern day application, remains a central aspect of our Christian hope. The quest of justice is part of what it means to be human. We are made in God’s image and thus we were made for justice, to be recipients of it and pursue it for others. Jesus, in his first sermon in Luke 4, quotes Isaiah 61 and in so doing picks up the Biblical promise of justice. He says he is the one who will fulfill the long awaited promise that God would bring justice to a world and a people who are waiting for it. Jesus tells those listening in the synagogue that he, ultimately, is the bringer of justice. It is wrapped up in his identity and his mission. It is only in Jesus and through Jesus that we find the justice that we long for.
To discover and experience Jesus Christ in our midst
To cultivate mutually encouraging relationships
To participate in God’s mission to the world
We pray, O God, by the power of your Holy Spirit, that our lives may reflect the first sermon of Jesus, our crucified and risen Christ, who brings good news to the poor and lets the oppressed go free. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Responsive Prayer—Psalm 40:1-3
1I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
3He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.
1. Who Has Jesus Come to Deliver? Read carefully Luke 4:14-22 again.
- Who are those that Jesus promises to deliver?
- Who do you think that describes in the original audience?
- Who do you think that describes in our present day?
- Oftentimes when we talk of our needs we focus on either spiritual conditions or material conditions. Why is it important to see that Jesus is talking about both? What are some of the dangers in only seeing Jesus addressing spiritual needs or only seeing Jesus address material needs?
- How does this shape our understanding of the good news of Jesus? If he comes to address both material and spiritual needs what does that say about him and us?
- How How does this clarify our call to love and serve our neighbors?
2. How Does Jesus Bring Justice? Read Luke 4:23-24
- Why was not everyone welcoming Jesus’ message of justice?
- Even John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, as he sat in prison wondered whether Jesus was the messiah (Matthew 11). Why kind of justice did John the Baptist and Jesus’ contemporaries expect to bring?
- What does this teach us about our ideas of justice? What happens when we reckon with the fact that justice isn’t just for “us” but for “them” as well?
3. Why Does It Matter?
- Luke makes clear that when Jesus quotes Isaiah 61, He doesn’t read the last line of v.2 and the day of vengeance of our God; Why does Jesus not include that in his sermon?
- What does it mean that Jesus comes to bear God’s vengeance against evil and injustice rather than bring it? What does that say about Jesus and what does it say about us?
- How does Jesus accomplish this?
Read this quote by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:
“Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart—and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of hearts, there remains…an unuprooted small corner of evil.”
- How does it help us understand the need for Jesus to bear God’s vengeance?
- Why do we need God’s anger and wrath? How is it compatible with God’s love for us?
- How does Jesus' death on the cross help us make sense of God’s vengeance and his love?
Because God, our creator, loves us, the grace of Christ, our redeemer, calls us, and the presence of the Holy Spirit guides us—go out in truth; go out in wisdom; go out in love: to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly in the presence of God.
View Study Guide Notes
Question 1: This passage is oftentimes applied as though Jesus were addressing only spiritual or material/physical needs, but Jesus is addressing both. All through the Scriptures we see the gospel applied both to spiritual and physical needs (James 2:15-16). The good news for us and for the world is that this means Jesus’ promise of justice and Shalom means it includes everyone! Thus it’s important to include grace and justice in understanding who Jesus is and what he has come to do for us.
Question 2: The challenge with justice is that we love justice as long as it is for us and on our terms, but what Jesus comes to do is deliver “them” as well. This is why so many people struggled to recognize Jesus as the messiah. He wasn’t bringing the kind of justice they had expected. Jesus was willing to extend favor and grace to enemies, to those who do not deserve it (all of us!) and thus we must reckon with the fact that Jesus brings justice on his terms and not ours (which is a good thing!!).
Question 3: There is a lot to unpack here so if you don’t get to all of it, don’t worry. There will be more time to discuss these issues throughout the sermon series. The challenge we face with justice is that we can’t separate the good from the bad and the ‘us’ from and ‘them.’ As the quote above highlights, the problem is the human heart, and so we must look to Jesus to bring the justice we long for and need. This means with humility and hope we ought to follow Jesus in his mission to bring justice to the world. It also means that we must wait with patience as Jesus hasn’t finished what he started and establish perfect justice and peace.