Sermon for 3rd Sunday after Epiphany January 27, 2019
Text: Luke 4:14-21 ILCW Series C 19:2107
Theme: Something “New” Has Arrived.
Can you see this? (pin) Did you hear it? (drop) Here, I’ll do it again. That time? No. Well, you might have heard it if you had been with us in the synagogue the day Jesus came home. As news about Him spread across the land, He returned to us. We were so excited that when He stood up to read, the place went silent. You could have heard a pin drop. We were so anxious to hear what He would say.
I think it wouldn’t be any different for you if the Savior came to preach in your church today. How breathtaking would that be! But, in reality, you do get to hear Him speak, for Jesus told His followers, “Whoever hears you, hears me” (10:16). In that way you experience today the thrill of hearing the Son of God speak to you. Treasure every word that you hear because it’s something new.
I don’t mean something brand new, something that you have not heard before. I mean “new” in the sense of fresh, like a “new” day. It rejuvenates you even though you’ve seen or heard it before.
Sometimes you can hear God’s Word and not catch what was said. Then you hear it again and it clicks. You understand. It’s new, invigorating, refreshing because you never saw it that way before. God simply opens your ears, eyes and heart to it.
That’s the way of grace, God’s undeserved love for sinners. That love of God took place long ago, before we fell into sin’s disgrace. In love He determined that nothing should separate us from Him.
There is a verse in the Scriptures that speaks to this. It says, “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight” (Eph.1:4). How could that be? Had God in love already thought of me before creation? How did He choose to help me? Breathlessly I strained to hear what Jesus would say.
I. What did it mean?
We all strained to listen to Jesus. We had known Him since He was about 3 years old. Now He was 30, the age at which men, whom God singled out for a special office and work among His people, began. Such men were anointed for the task.
Anointing was a ceremony in which oil was poured over the head,and it was proclaimed what the person would do. Priests, kings, and some prophets were anointed like this. Jesus was at that point in
His life. When He was, He came to us; He came back to His roots.
This is where His parents raised Him and His siblings. Here Jesus learned carpentry from Joseph. He took over the business with His brothers when Joseph was gone (Mk.6:3) and, since He was the oldest, assumed the role of caretaker for the family. Many of us did business with Him. We thought we knew Him – but not well enough.
About a year before this Jesus left and went down to the area where John the Baptist taught. We heard rumors of Jesus’ Baptism, when the heavens were torn open, a dove descended on Him, and a voice said, “You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well-pleased” (3:21f). John declared, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world…This is the Son of God” (Jn.1:29f). And then we heard reports of His miracles and teachings – things never done or said before among us Jews. What did it mean? Something New, something exciting was about to happen! I could feel it.
Was God sending us His redeeming love in the form of a person – a person like us, yet also different from us? One who would not fail to keep all of God’s Law? One who would never turn back when the going got rough? One who would endure the curse of sin and take it away? Is this what the Bible meant when it said, “This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1Jn.4:9-10). What could it all mean?
I gave Jesus my rapt attention that day when He was sent to us. He would explain. I could hardly wait to hear what He would say.
II. It spoke to my heart.
The leader of the synagogue handed the scroll of Isaiah to Jesus. Unravelling it, He found the place that said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me….He anointed me to preach good news to the poor…to proclaim freedom to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.”
He preached on those words. It was marvelous. Until that day I never understood what those words meant because our Rabbis taught them differently. They taught that God was going to send a political Messiah. One Rabbi would teach this, another would teach that, and it was all according to their personal political orientations. You know what politics is like; it hardly ever delivers that which the politicians say. Soon it seems like empty talk.
But when Jesus talked, He spoke to my heart; He spoke to my soul; He spoke to what bothered me most, my relationship with God. You see, I felt those things about which Isaiah wrote. I felt like a prisoner to sin because it overpowered me. I felt like a captive to Satan because I gave in to temptation, and he beat me up with guilt and laughter when I fell. I felt blind to the things of God, like I was thrown into a dark hole where I couldn’t see. I understood how David felt when he cried, “Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord” (Ps.130). The rabbis never helped me with that inner anguish of heart and soul that sin causes. I felt so unloved.
But when Jesus preached good news of release, when He proclaimed freedom from oppression, when He promised recovery of sight, I finally understood it meant “from sin, death, and the devil.” It spoke to my heart. God was freeing my heart and soul from the ravages of sin. It wasn’t the old talk. Something New Had Arrived, and this good news had such a sweet, sweet sound to it. God’s love found me. It found me! The Bible promises: “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (Ep.1:13). Could Jesus be that Savior for whom I longed?
III. How can we enjoy it?
God’s love found me! I know that’s what it all meant because I could feel the Holy Spirit working on my heart through the words Jesus spoke. A brighter day had dawned, and my heart felt light and free again – forgiven by God, restored to Him. I had returned to the place where He had always wanted me to be – at His side. And it was so enjoyable. It brought back to me the thoughts of what we called The Year of the Lord’s Favor or The Year of Jubilee.
You see, every 50 years God established a time of special rest, restoration, and rejoicing among us. At that time slaves were freed, debts were cancelled, land and property returned to the original owners, and joy was felt throughout our nation (Lv.25). It was the Year of Jubilee when God assured us all that we were no longer slaves to Satan and sin. In His love God would free us through Christ. It was an eternal Year of Jubilee! And when Jesus spoke, I finally understood what it meant. It was something new, fresh, and exciting! It spoke to my heart. God’s love had returned to us. It arrived in Jesus and He wanted us to enjoy it by believing in Him,
for He made it clear by saying, “Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
All my life I had been waiting for the Savior. Here He was. The “newness” of its meaning had arrived. How could I enjoy it most?
It didn’t take me long to figure that out. I could enjoy God’s love, sent and found in Jesus, most by living in it, returning love to Him, and proclaiming it to others through my life. As the Bible says, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ep.5:1,2). Living in God’s love – it’s as old as the hills, yet new every morning to all who believe. God grant it to us in faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.