What Did Jesus Tell The Poor?

“My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King: My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.”(Ps. 45:1)

When John, the Baptist, sent messengers to Jesus to ask if He was the Messiah, John already knew the answer. While baptizing Him, John saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove, and personally heard from God concerning Jesus’ identity (John 1:29-34).

Jesus did however answer John, by telling His messengers to tell John what they saw and heard.

“The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” (Matt. 11:5)

John’s followers had told him about a dead man being raised to life. Imagine the magnitude of such a miracle! Luke 7:11-18 tells about this event. It says that the people witnessing this were seized with fear, stunned by Jesus’ power. Now think about who may be blind or deaf, and suddenly receiving complete sight or total healing. Amazing! Or, how about someone you know who is in a wheelchair or perhaps a war veteran with a missing body part; imagine that person being restored merely by someone speaking a few words. To witness such an event would be unforgettable. To personally receive restoration would change your life forever.

But what about the poor?

The poor had the Gospel preached to them. This seems pretty trivial, compared to the greatness of the miracles Jesus performed. After all, aren’t we admonished to help the needy whenever we can? The scriptures are full of such instructions. How could a few words or even a sermon help the poor?

I tried to imagine what Jesus might have said to these poor folks. Perhaps He tried to comfort them by saying:

“Well, I’m here to tell you that when I return in my Kingdom you can be with Me, and be better off than you are now.”

Jesus’ message to the poor was astounding and just the opposite of what the religious world teaches. In Isaiah, where it talks about Jesus’ ministry, the scripture says,

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor.” (Isa. 61:1)

Why? Read the last part of verse 3:

“That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

My attention was drawn to the words, glad tidings. The Greek translation is “gospel,” meaning good news. The Hebrew word here is basar which can be translated as a “rosy report.” Today’s news about the economy and other money matters is anything but rosy. Just what was this good news, glad tidings, rosy report? Surely there had to be more for the poor than some message about a far off Kingdom.

Isaiah 52:7 reads:

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”

Romans 10:15 confirms that the beautiful feet referred to here in Isaiah are indeed the feet of Jesus or anyone who brings His Gospel message. Let’s look at the meaning of some of these words in Isaiah 52:7.

First of all, we see the word basar here again. This good news message was a proclamation of peace. The Hebrew word here is none other than the well-known word, shalom. But it means much more than peace. It is also used when talking about health and welfare. It’s used in the context of a covenant relationship with God concerning safety and prosperity, contentment and restoration.

Next, note that the following phrase, “glad tidings” is that word basar again. But glad tidings of what? “Good things.” The Hebrew word used not only means good, but also prosperity and best. We see here the rosy report of prosperity building. But we’re not done yet with this one verse. A proclamation of salvation is included. The Hebrew word here is yeshua, the same word Moses spoke when Israel was trapped  with the Egyptians behind and the Red Sea in front of them (Exod. 14:13-14).

Ever felt like you’re, completely engulfed by financial problems? The meaning of the word here is threefold: deliverance, victory, and prosperity. The account reveals that that is what transpired as Israel obeyed God through Moses. Moses told them to stand still, and watch the Lord perform for them.

In 2 Chronicles 20, a prophet spoke to King Jehoshaphat, when Judah was being threatened by three hostile nations. This man, Jahaziel, full of the Spirit of God, told the King not to fear because the Lord would fight for him. He, like Moses, said, “…stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord…” The same word, yeshua is used here. By obeying, the people would see the fullness of yeshua that is, deliverance, victory and prosperity. Besides believing, the people had to do their part. The Lord gave them the victory and so much prosperity that it took them three days to gather the spoil. They held an assembly and called the place “The Valley of Blessing.” We see here just how powerful and prosperous the Lord’s salvation can be.

The good news that Jesus spoke to the poor had the capability to deliver them from any need. The power was in the words. Those who received His words were also given faith, which comes by the hearing of the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). Jesus was the Sower of the Word. Those who received the words that could deliver them from poverty were now empowered with hope to bring those words to produce fruit that would glorify God. Compare Luke 8:11-15 with John 15:5-8.

The good news of deliverance from poverty, spoken to the poor by Jesus, would not have the same affect on all hearers. Some people would not understand. Some would lose their enthusiasm quickly when they did not see immediate results. Still, others would persevere longer, but would lose their focus through distractions of everyday living (Matt. 13:18-22). We know that the thief has come to steal, kill, and destroy. That’s why Jesus was able to say that the poor would always be around. Most of them could not withstand the attacks of the devil.

Luke 8:11-15 says most hearers of God’s Word do not bring the fruit of the word-seed to maturity, except one group who prepared their hearts to receive the Word. They would constantly rehearse those words building up their faith. This kind of faith in God  can remove all obstacles standing in the way. First, remove those obstacles by speaking to them by Jesus’ own authority. Then, believe you’ve received what you asked of God in prayer (Mark 11:22-25).

In Psalm 31:19, David said,

“Oh, how great is Your goodness which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You.”

The word “goodness” in this verse could also be translated as “your best,” and “laid up” could be translated “kept hidden” for those who fear God. We have greatly underestimated God’s goodness.

The Word of God is alive and powerful (Heb. 4:12). It gives life to the hearer (John 6:63). Jesus spoke the Word of God when He created the universe. He mixed it with faith (Heb. 11:3). Jesus told the poor that those, who received His Word believed that God was able to do exceedingly abundantly above all they could ask or think (Eph. 3:20). They could always have sufficiency in all things, and produce an abundance of good fruit that would glorify God. Isaiah 61 says that the gospel was preached to the poor that they would truly glorify God. What’s in the way of your prosperity and mine?

Let’s take the Word of God to heart, stick with it, and bring fruit to maturity that our Father may be glorified (John 15:7-8).

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