When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Matthew 11:2-5
I don’t think I have ever been financially “poor”, from a global perspective. Even as a boy I was able to earn over $1.90 per day (a common test for poverty). I suspect few if any of the people who read this devotional will fit that category.
But that doesn’t mean poor people are in short supply. Over ten percent of the world’s population lives in that state. Yet to many of us they are invisible. Perhaps it is because half of them live in Sub-Saharan Africa. That’s probably not it. Let’s just agree that if any of us wanted to meet some poor people, we have more than enough opportunities.
In our text for today, Christ describes the evidence for His fulfilling messianic promises. The signs of His being the Messiah were needs being met – need for health and wholeness, need for life, and need for good news. Notice that Jesus doesn’t say that He is bringing poor people money or food, although that clearly sometimes happened. What poor people needed was more than the assets of this world. They needed hope, to be cared for, to be loved. They needed the good news of Christ.
We know Jesus preached to and taught all different kinds of people, from Pharisees to fishermen, but the audience that showed He was the Messiah was the underclass of His day and ours, the poor. Why would that not be true for us today, as His people? If we do all manner of good work in the name of Christ, but don’t bring the good news to the poor, are we ministers of that same Christ? If we claim to be His followers, let us not forsake His most critical work.