Is Isaiah 58 6-7 an example of Jesus as a social worker?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I think that a good argument can be made that the vision of Christ as offered in the two verses from Isaiah contains elements that show Jesus as a social worker.  The sixth verse strikes at the basic element that motivates social work:

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?

In this verse, the fundamental aspect of social work is seen in sacrifice.  Social workers sacrifice themselves, their time, and their attention in order to help.  Jesus speaks of "fasting" and while the modern social worker might not fast, they do sacrifice.  The social worker makes this sacrifice in order to remedy a wrong that is present, something Jesus speaks to in this passage with the desire to "loose the chains of injustice" and "set the oppressed free."  In this verse, one sees the motivations of Christ as mirroring the work of the social worker.

In the next verse, one sees the social worker's desire to commit themselves to serving others.  The notion of service is extremely important to the identity of the social worker, and such an idea is at the root of the verse from Isaiah:

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

The social worker sees community service as a part of their purpose.  They work to extend bonds to and with others, something Jesus speaks of here.  The notion of "sharing food with the hungry" or "provide the poor wanderer with shelter" enhances this.  The tenet of social work rests with this idea of community service, something Jesus illuminates in this passage.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team