We wish you Merry Christmas as we celebrate the fulfillment of these words from Isaiah.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18–19 ESV)
You might look at this and ask, "If these words are fulfilled in Jesus, then why are there still the poor or the blind or captives or the oppressed?" Or perhaps, "Why is there still so much evil in this world, if Jesus came to bring such good news?" If you are asking that, I think Jesus anticipated your question and had to push the people of Nazareth to realize it. The people that heard him quote this and tell them it was fulfilled in their ears that day gushed with praise at his gracious words...until he got to his point...then they were filled with rage and tried to kill him. But why? What made them so angry? I hope to have an answer soon since I will be preaching on this passage this Sunday night. Pray for me. I'll just say it has a lot to do with the message of the prophecy of Isaiah, especially the last several chapters after this quote. It also makes the meaning of Christmas and why Jesus is so special all so much more powerful.
This is the beginning of a group of sermons I am working on for a missions conference. I think Luke 4 may be the first passage and then possibly Isaiah 66 to show the new heavens and new earth including those who hear His word and tremble at it coming from all nations to worship Him. This wonderfully leads into Paul's explanation of the implications of this fulfillment in Christ and the Church in Ephesians. Perhaps the next two parts will be the plan and purpose of God to unite heaven and earth in Christ (from Ephesians 1-3) and then the centrality of the Church as it flows out from and through family to the world around (from Ephesians 4-6). The biggest problem is that it will be impossible to cover all this in only four sermons. I am looking forward to learning from this. I pray that this will teach, guide and prepare me as much as it will be a help for the congregation that will hear it.
My prayer is that I will listen to God speaking to me as I study these things before I seek to figure out how to speak to others. It is as my seminary profesor, Dr. Elias Medeiros, said that we should not be like pizza makers who are making pizza all day long but starving because we don't eat. I pray that I will be a well nourished baker or perhaps I should say a well furnished carpenter. My point is along the lines of Ephesians 3:19 of Paul's prayer that we would know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, and that we may be filled with all the fullness of God. As He fills us up, we overflow with grace to spread to the world around us. May we be full and may we not be able to contain it.