Introduction: When we get a new boss at work, when we hear the
speeches of candidates running for public office, we listen to
see what they say they will do. After the boss has been
running the office for some time, or the candidate is elected,
we compare what they promised with what they actually have
done. Why? We want to know if they are honest. But, another
reason is to determine whether we understood the original
promise. Our Lord is honest. He is trustworthy. This week we
will compare the “promises” about what He did for the least of
these with what He did, to be sure we understand what He
meant. Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Promises

    1. Read Luke 4:16-19. Who is Isaiah writing about?

    2. Read Luke 4:20-22. Who does Jesus say that Isaiah is
      writing about? (Jesus says this is about Him. Not
      only is it about Him, but what it describes is being
      presently fulfilled.)

      1. How do the people react? (Some, at least, are

        1. Are you skeptical? (I am not.)

    3. In our series on how we treat the poor and needy, we
      have been testing some of the popular claims to see
      if they can withstand a Bible-based, intelligent
      appraisal. Let’s look at Luke 4:18-19 again and list
      what Jesus says is being fulfilled through Him. What
      are those things? (The poor get good news. Captives
      are freed. The blind can see. The oppressed are set
      free. The time of God’s favor is proclaimed.)

    4. Read Luke 7:20-22. What is at issue here? (Whether
      Jesus is the promised Messiah. Whether He fulfills
      what was promised in Isaiah.)

      1. Compare what Isaiah promised ( Luke 4:18-19) with
        what Jesus says fulfills that promise (Luke
        7:22)? Would you be convinced?

    5. Because this is critical to a correct understanding
      of how we should treat the least of these, let’s go
      through each of these to understand what Jesus has
      in mind for us.

      1. “Good news to the poor.” Can you name a single
        place in the gospels (or anywhere else in the
        Bible) where Jesus spoke only to the poor? He
        had a “keep out” sign for the rich? (No! In
        fact, the only example is just the opposite,
        Jesus gave a private audience to Nicodemus, a
        very rich and powerful man. See John 3.)

        1. If Jesus was not discriminating in favor of
          the poor, how should we understand this
          promise? (The Old Testament is filled with
          stories (think Job and Abraham) and
          promises (Deuteronomy 28) that being
          faithful to God makes you wealthy. Being
          poor or disabled was a sign for all to see
          that you were unfaithful to God. See John
          9:2. Jesus brought the “good news” that the
          poor could also be saved. Jesus shared the
          gospel with the rich and poor alike.)

      2. “Freedom for the captives.” Can you name a
        single incident in which Jesus released an
        incarcerated person? Did He visit a prisoner in
        jail? (No! The irony of the interpretation that
        Jesus is referring to prisoners is that our Luke
        7 story has the disciples of imprisoned John the
        Baptist going to Jesus. Jesus did not go to
        visit John the Baptist in prison. We know from
        the stories in Acts that jails and prisons

        1. If Jesus was not visiting prison inmates,
          much less releasing them, how should we
          understand this promise? (Look again at
          Luke 7:22. Being disabled is a restriction
          on your freedom. Being enslaved to sin is a
          restriction on your freedom. Jesus’ actions
          show this is what He meant by freeing

      3. “Recovery of sight for the blind.” Can you name
        a single incident in which Jesus restored sight
        to a blind person? (Yes! There are many accounts
        of this.)

        1. Read Matthew 15:11-14. How does Jesus use
          the term “blind” here? (People who have a
          wrong understanding of God’s will.)

      4. “Set the oppressed free.” When the “oppressed”
        are mentioned in my country, the argument has to
        do with financial or political inequality,
        despite the fact that everyone here has
        financial and political freedom from government
        restraints. Did Jesus free anyone from
        government limits on political or economic
        freedom? (Look again at Luke 7:22. When Jesus
        describes His work, we see that His freedom has
        to do with freedom from evil spirits, disease,
        and disability.)

      5. “Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” What
        aspect of Jesus’ life reflects this? (Read Luke
        7:22, the last part. Jesus came to live with
        humans, to obey God perfectly, to pay the
        penalty for our sins, and to rise to eternal
        life. That is both good news and the greatest
        example of God’s favor.)

    6. Contemplate what we have just discussed. If you
      truly wanted to be like Jesus in terms of helping
      “the least of these,” if you wanted to be like Jesus
      in the promise and the fulfillment of His work, what
      would you do? (Preach the gospel to everyone! Ask
      the Holy Spirit to give you the power to heal and
      cast out demons. Promote Biblically correct

  2. Action

    1. Read John 2:13-14. Why would these merchants and
      money-changers be in the temple? (The Popular New
      Testament commentary gives two reasons. First, the
      animal brought as a sacrifice must be “without
      blemish” ( Leviticus 22:19-20). This gave the priests
      authority over what animals were acceptable.
      Second, the temple tax had to be paid in a sanctuary
      coin. Thus, men had to change their money to the
      sanctuary currency to pay this tax. This marketplace
      could have been outside the temple, but the obvious
      concern is that the priests made money from allowing
      it to be in the temple.)

      1. What problems do you think could have arisen
        with this situation? (You would have all the
        noise and mess connected with barn in the temple
        area. The financial aspect of all of this could
        lead to corruption.)

    2. Read John 2:15-16. Is Jesus against trading? (The
      problem was doing it in the temple, a place where
      people came to meet God.)

      1. Does Jesus’ approach seem sinful to you? Does He
        seem to have lost his temper? (Jesus did not
        sin, so this cannot be sinful.)

        1. If this is not sinful, what lesson does
          this teach us today? (Sometimes strong
          actions and words are acceptable to
          confront wrong-doing.)

    3. Read John 2:18. What challenge to Jesus’ actions do
      the Jewish leaders raise? (They challenge His
      authority. What sign from God can Jesus show to
      prove His authority.)

      1. Is this a reasonable question?

      2. If this is precedent for those who find
        wrongdoing in church? Who has authority to take
        actions like this? Anyone who disagrees?

      3. Over the years, I have been surprised at those
        who think they have this kind of authority. For
        much of my adult life I have taught the main
        adult Sabbath School class in the sanctuary. I
        recall one first-time visitor who stood up and
        challenged my teaching because I was not using
        the King James version of the Bible. Another
        stood up and challenged that a Christmas tree
        was on the platform. Do visitors have authority
        to make these challenges? (Look again at John
        2:16. Jesus refers to His “Father’s house.”)

        1. We are all children of God! Does that mean
          we have this authority as His children?

    4. Read John 2:18-19. What does this say about our
      authority as children of God? (Jesus is not claiming
      the authority that all of us have. Rather, He is
      claiming authority as God, part of the Trinity. He
      says that He has authority to rise from the dead. I
      think visitors need to be concerned about the sins
      of arrogance and presumption when they stand up to
      condemn people they do not know.)

    5. Friend, consider what your church is doing for the
      “least of these.” The churches of which I have been
      a part have given out clothing, helped with homeless
      shelters or soup kitchens, and organized prison
      ministries. This kind of kindness is good and
      mentioned positively in Matthew 25:34-40. But, our
      study this week shows that those programs are not
      the gold standard for our work. What if we asked the
      Holy Spirit for power to heal the disabled, cast out
      demons, and preach the good news with power? Will
      you do that?

  3. Next week: “The Least of These.”