The Liberating Mission of Jesus
Dario Lopez Rodriguez, a pastor and overseer in the Church of God Peru, wrote the Liberating Mission of Jesus, sharing his deductions from the Gospel of Luke that Jesus’ mission was two-fold: (1) the universality of God’s love and, (2) the special love God has for the defenseless in society. He said, “From the beginning of the story of Jesus, Luke highlights the particular concern that God has for the social sectors considered as left-over or disposable according to some religious regulations and cultural standards of the first century,” (15).
Dario shares that Luke 4:17-30 is a paradigm for the liberating mission of Jesus. He read from the scroll in the synagogue Isaiah 61 and declared that He is the fulfillment of that scripture. He said that this passage of scripture is a key to, “capturing the the theological richness,” of Luke, and it, “emphasizes both the universal reach of the liberating mission of Jesus and His special love for the poor and the marginalized,” (35). Jesus truly had a love for the marginalized, but I would contend that His love is for all people. He also said, “The special love that God has for these excluded and scorned social sectors constitutes a constant missional challenge for the disciples of the crucified and risen Lord who are within a religious camp saturated with theological propositions that see objects and things rather than human beings with dignity and rights,” (24).
I would not state that there is a special love in Jesus’ heart for a specific subgrouping of people. His love is for all people and is equal. His earthly ministry may have emphasized outreach to the marginalized, but people from all social stratas that existed in His culture in the 1st century were part of it and were welcome. However, the poor’s response was more significant compared to the upper classes. I have seen where someone preaches an “Us versus Them,” message, that Jesus was specifically for a specific group, and the group listening begins to ostracize the other groups. This should never be the case. To say that Jesus came only for the poor is misguided(2 Peter 3:9). I know this is not Dario’s message but it can easily be misconstrued.
I appreciated Dario’s insight on discipleship, when he said, “The price is extremely high and the demands are raised. The shortcuts are not valid. Discipleship is a calling that demands voluntary surrender and incites urgent commitment,” (41). Discipleship is very important in our day and age, and the message of surrender needs to be preached more as our culture tries to form shortcuts and quick-fixes for nearly everything.
Chapter 5 discusses the parable of the Good Samaritan and the implications that it provides. Dario said, “What is the lesson for today? It is quite simple. Passing by when faced with human needs, when faced with the emergencies of persons who are half-dead on the road, is nothing other than a negation of the commandment to love our neighbor,” (74). However, I have been to India and Afghanistan and have been surrounded by such human depravity, despair and disease that one cannot properly care for everyone but must stay focused on their original mission and accomplish their tasks, whether it is ministry or other work. The thought of helping everyone out in need is a great idea, but its practical application is not conducive currently.
I agree with him when he stated, “Compassion that leads to solidarity must be one of the distinct characteristics of evangelical identity, especially in this time where ambiguity and aversion to commitment, two visible marks of the contemporary global world, are infecting the Christian testimony with the virus of social demobilization and the virus of collective memory loss.” Our paradigm to follow should be Jesus and His heart for all people everywhere.
This paper was submitted to the Regent University School of Divinity class, Global Theology of Mission with Miguel Alvarez, Ph.D., summer session 2016)