Dear friend in Christ.
Grace to you from the Giver of grace, God our Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Or we say from God, from Jesus Christ and from the Holy Spirit. Amen.
As we continue in the Epiphany season (manifestation or unveiling) of the One whom promised in the Garden of Eden after the Great Fall into sin and death by mankind (us), we come today to the occasion of Jesus beginning to preach His life giving gospel, a gospel that has power. What kind of power we say? Well, let us read our text today and see for ourselves. But first let us recap Jesus’ life to this time.
He was conceived in his mother Mary by the Holy Spirit, born in a manger, circumcised on the 8th day according to the law, was found in the temple discussing with the religious leaders, was baptized by John the Baptist, was anointed by the Holy Spirit, heard the voice of His Father’ speak over Him was led into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted of the devil and then he began his ministry of bringing redemption to the world.
Let us begin:
KJV Luke 4:14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.
It appears that around a year of Jesus’ activities are wrapped up in these two verses, information which is gained by comparing the other three gospels (especially John) which record the life of Jesus. Last week’s message was about Jesus being at the wedding of Cana where He performed His first miracle, and that miracle is thought to have taken place in between His being tempted of the devil and the occasion we have before us today in our lesson from Luke 4:14-21. And so, continuing to follow Jesus as He begins to invite people to His table, we continue....He had left Nazareth as an ordinary man, now He returns with the fame of his deeds running high through the land. Who is this man? What happened to him? We know the rest of the story, but just think of how they must have struggled to understand the great change in him!!
Luke 4: 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
Jesus spoke from the 61st chapter of the book of Isaiah, written around 700 years before the day on which He read from the prophecy. Let us turn to the book of Isaiah to view the verses.
KJV Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
He does immediately point to Himself as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, but He refers to the Spirit of the Lord being upon me, which at that point it would have not cleared anything up in their mind as to whom He was referring to.
We must remember that Jesus being God did not need the infilling of the Holy Spirit as is included in the mystery of the Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Spirit. Rather, it was the ceremonial act of anointing for His purpose of performing His role as His Priest by which He redeemed the world by offering Himself as the sacrifice.
The last line quoted by Jesus from the book of Isaiah speaks of “proclaiming the acceptable year of the Lord.” This had meaning to those who were listening on that day, as this explanation explains to us.
02123 2123 \2123 Jubilee, a joyful shout or clangour of trumpets, the name of the great semi-centennial festival of the Hebrews. It lasted for a year. During this year the land was to be fallow, and the Israelites were only permitted to gather the spontaneous produce of the fields Le 25:11,12 All landed property during that year reverted to its original owner Le 25:13-34 27:16-24 and all who were slaves were set free Le 25:39-54 and all debts were remitted. The return of the jubilee year was proclaimed by a blast of trumpets which sounded throughout the land. There is no record in Scripture of the actual observance of this festival, but there are numerous allusions Isa 5:7,8,9,10 61:1,2 Eze 7:12,13 Ne 5:1-19 2Ch 36:21 which place it beyond a doubt that it was observed. The advantages of this institution were manifold.
"1. It would prevent the accumulation of land on the part of a few to the detriment of the community at large.
2. It would render it impossible for any one to be born to absolute poverty, since every one had his hereditary land.
3. It would preclude those inequalities which are produced by extremes of riches and poverty, and which make one man domineer over another.
4. It would utterly do away with slavery.
5. It would afford a fresh opportunity to those who were reduced by adverse circumstances to begin again their career of industry in the patrimony which they had temporarily forfeited.
6. It would periodically rectify the disorders which crept into the state in the course of time, preclude the division of the people into nobles and plebeians, and preserve the theocracy inviolate."
20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
He then dropped the bombshell by saying in essence, I am the One whom Isaiah was referring to in that passage. I am here to do more than make things right on this earth, I am here to make things right between heaven and earth, between God and mankind.
The day of redemption is here, the day of releasing is here. Again, they would have struggled to make the leap from earthly things to heavenly things, as is indicated by the following verses which we will get into next week. The big lesson today is that the Messiah has come and He has come more than to set things right on this earth, for He has come to set those held captive by Satan free. The Great Jubilee has come in Christ. Grace is flowing out from the heart of God towards all and in a very visible manner Jesus has come to set the captives free.
This is the point that I wish to highlight, emphasize and trumpet today, just as in The return of the jubilee year was proclaimed by a blast of trumpets which sounded throughout the land.
Today God is speaking into our hearts and into the hearts of all this wonderful news of release, and how wonderful it is that we are able to receive this gift motivated by love and which results in being set free from the guilt and from the power of sin. We are loved by God, for in accepting this gift of forgiveness by grace through faith, we are not spurning God’s love for us. We are not refusing His grace towards us, but we are accepting it. May I elaborate a little on what that means.
This weekend we attended a men’s retreat in our local area at which a pastor gave lectures and moderated discussions on the topic of truth. From the scriptures he laid out the various places in which God reveals what is real and of how that reality is revealed through His Son, through a person, Jesus the Christ. I thought of many things, but one what one person shared has really made a deep impression on me and it connects very well with the main point of our discussion here today in His Word.
This man shared of how he came to a place where he began to feel unworthy of his wonderful wife to the point that it began to affect his emotional well being and his ability to function as a husband and as a father in the way that he should. Finally he asked his wife to sit down with him, he laid it all out in that he feels unworthy of her love and wondered how and why she would keep loving him and serving him. The words that she spoke were as follows: “Are you going to take that away from me?” Are you going to not allow me to love you and serve you?”
As the young man repeated her questioning, pleading words of love to her husband, I was lifted into hearing Christ speaking these words to a fallen, unbelieving hearts which largely feels unworthy of the love of God which is revealed in Jesus Christ. And I have not stopped thinking about such matchless love since as the young man gave such a clear illustration of the heart of our God and His Son Jesus Christ that it overwhelms me yet. May the Lord open up our understanding to this gift of love that is poured out through His Spirit from the life giving Spirit Jesus the Christ.
Now, why would we refuse to receive such a one way gift of love that Christ is bringing to us today? What would be the reason that we would take away that pleasure from our God, for that is what He has done through Jesus and wants all to receive that amazing gift of forgiveness through His love!!!
May we rejoice in this gift anew today! The power of the Gospel is in this, that because of the love of God, your and my sins are forgiven!!
Pastor Orval Wirkkala