It is wise to be occasionally reminded that, in the strictest theological sense, Jesus is not here working on earth any more. In the very same body which emerged from the tomb and walked around Palestine for forty days prior to His ascension, Jesus Christ now sits upon His throne in Paradise. He told His disciples that He would leave Earth and send Another in His place. Therefore it is accurate to say that it is actually the Holy Spirit who is God among us in our age. I only make this distinction so I can gain a little latitude and not be misunderstood as I write about how Jesus is working on Earth today. Below I share the Scripture from Isaiah 61 and declare that Jesus was, Himself, the fulfillment of this ancient passage (Luke 4:18). The ministry of Jesus has always been seen most powerfully among those who He finds in a weakened, needy and dependent state. Though no one verse fully articulates this in Scripture, it is evident that the Lord is attracted to broken people. All of the promises below tell us two things: 1) Jesus Christ does some amazing, powerful work in the lives of people and 2) the only people who will experience His work to the fullest are those who are characterized by intense need in their lives. If we desire to know where Jesus works most evidently today, then the clear answer is that He initiates His work in the rubble of broken lives. Our entire culture in America resists brokenness. We are taught to insulate ourselves from weakness, vulnerability, discomfort or pain. When we build up our own defenses, we may think we are cutting ourselves off from potential danger but, in some very real sense, we actually cut ourselves off from the power of Christ instead. Because none of us can ever fully protect ourselves from life’s risks and pains, we do better to place our energies into humbly positioning ourselves in the place where Jesus works, and then to fully expect Him to act on our behalf according to His love and wisdom. Jesus read the passage below in synagogue one day, and He attributed its prophetic fulfillment to His own life and ministry.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion- to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” – Isaiah 61:1-3
Here is what I note about where Jesus is working today from those verses :
- Among the impoverished He brings good news
- With the brokenhearted He gives care to their wounds
- It is only the captive prisoner who experiences the message and power of pardon, deliverance and freedom
- He declares His bestowed favor in His perfect timing
- To the oppressed and attacked He promises the day of vengeance through His justice
- Only those who know what it is to mourn can know what it is to be comforted by Him
- He exchanges the ashes of loss with the crown of glory and the oil of restored joy
- For the burdened and weak in spirit He will provide a covering of vibrant praise and joy
- He takes tiny insignificant seeds (us in our weakness) and grows them into tall and upright oaks (us, abiding in Him)
- He does all of this so that any and all may see that He is gloriously good
The application for all of this today is for us to understand that we can never be too small, helpless, poor, weak, sick, damaged, dirty or fearful to cut ourselves off from Jesus. This is where He invests His purposed work. He moves towards our desperation because it positions us perfectly for His work of redemption. We are justified once and for all through His blood but we are in a constant state of being saved, of being redeemed. Though we can never be too helpless so as to cut ourselves off from His work, we may, however become too big, self-confident, wealthy, healthy, successful, polished or presumptuous to experience His presence and activity. When we rest in self or some other form of propped-upness then we sense little to no actual need for Him and we miss His offering of His presence to us. I do not advocate purposed, pitiful or unnecessary weakness as a goal to chase. We should be as strong and courageous as He empowers us to be. What I am stating is that we all inevitably find ourselves in some form of weakened state and we should fully expect Jesus our Lord to continue to show up and work on our behalf when we are there.
So slow down. Look around you. He is bigger than your Goliath. His promises are louder than that defiant giant’s taunts of you. Your weakness is very inviting to Him unless you choose to keep it from Him. I have seen Him work in this arena more times than I could possibly count and I have always come away changed for the better. This is where Jesus can always be found at work.