taking the words of Jesus seriously

This morning I sat in my office and was reminiscing about a recent sermon series on the gospel of Luke that I heard. The series looked at Jesus’ interactions with the most unlikely people: a man filled with a demon spirit, a mother-in-law with a high fever, a man with leprosy, a paralyzed man, a tax collector, a synagogue leader’s daughter, a bleeding woman, and the list goes on.

I love how Luke, a physician by trade, not only writes about these interactions but also emphasizes Jesus’ first public message to include both physical and spiritual things.

As a reminder, let’s do a quick read through together of Luke 4:16-19:

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

I can’t help but read this passage and say, “YES, JESUS. DO THESE THINGS!” Not only is he addressing spiritual needs, but he’s also talking about REAL, practical, necessary things.

Then, as the drama of Luke unfolds, Jesus ACTUALLY STARTS DOING THEM. Sight for the blind? I’ve got that covered. Bleeding woman? Freedom for the oppressed? I’ve got that too. Good news for the poor? I am here for everyone regardless of socio-economic status…and on and on it goes.

The odd thing about this is that ALL of these people have pre-existing conditions. Yes, you heard me. All of these beautiful, unlikely, remembered people whom Jesus touched had something wrong with them before he came along.

This week, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Senate Republican healthcare bill, also known as the Better Care Act, would leave 22 million fewer Americans insured. It would leave vulnerable those whom Jesus sought out, called worthy, and restored by removing protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, it would allow waivers for “essential health benefits” such as drug-abuse treatment, mental health illnesses, and even maternity coverage.

I know this is a complicated issue. I know that my healthcare costs have gone up. BUT I also know there must be a better solution. Doing things behind closed doors never facilitates dialogue among people with differing opinions.

Jesus set the bar really high. He served everyone regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, orientation, and socio-economic status. He proclaimed the “year of the Lord’s favor.”

If you go back to the Isaiah 61 passage where Jesus read from in Luke 4, Jesus could have easily continued with the next line, “and the day of vengeance of our God.”

For many, this healthcare bill feels like a day of vengeance and not good news or freedom.

For my friend with a heart condition; for my friend with HIV; for my former coach with breast cancer; for my friend who is fighting addiction; for myself who battles anxiety; for my cousin who is about to have baby — we ALL need coverage. And under this current bill, if we had to purchase insurance, we couldn’t because we all have pre-existing conditions and are in need of those essential health benefits.

We must find a better solution. Even President Trump said, “We’re going to have insurance for everybody…There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.

It is happening. Voice your concern today.

  1. Call 1-866-246-9371
  2. When asked, provide your zip code. You will be directed to key senators in your state.
  3. State your name, where you live, and that this bill strips coverage that is so desperately needed by you, your family, and your friends. Urge your senators to vote NO.

About The Author


Erin Donovan is the Executive Director of HopeSprings, an organization that seeks to awaken, equip, and engage churches and service providers to help eradicate HIV in the Baltimore region. She is on the Johns Hopkins Center for AIDS Research Community Participatory Advisory Board, co-chairs the faith-based working group for the Mayor’s HIV/AIDS Commission for the City of Baltimore, and serves on the board of the Presbyterian AIDS Network. Erin has a bachelor’s in anthropology from Vanguard University and a master’s in organizational leadership from Eastern University. She is passionate about the power of the local church to do great things. Erin has the best husband ever and two rambunctious kids.

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