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TEXT: Luke 4:14-30

SUBJECT: Luke #10: Introduction to Israel

Today, with God's help, we'll continue our study of Luke's Gospel.  The verses describe the first few weeks of our Lord's public career.  Thus far, He's lived quietly-as a baby in Bethlehem, as an exile in Egypt, and as a carpenter's son in Nazareth.  Only at the Jordan River, had He gone public, first with the descent of the Holy Spirit, and then with the voice from heaven, "You are My Beloved Son; in You I am well pleased".

And that only lasted a few minutes, it seems.  Then, into the Wilderness to be alone with His Father-and the devil.

But His private life is over.  From now on, He'll be the best known--and most carefully watched--man in Israel.  Now, on to the story.

THE SUMMARY

Luke begins with a short summary.  After leaving the wilderness, our Lord returns to Galilee (where He's from).  He's gone home, but He's not gone back to His old life.  He's no longer a carpenter, but now He's a preacher.

Who has called Him to the work?  God Himself.  And not only has He called the Lord to preach, but He's also equipped Him for the work.  He comes into Galilee, "In the power of the Spirit".

The Holy Spirit anointed Him at His baptism, and now the same Spirit is going to give Him a power that no man has ever had before-a power to perform miracles, yes, of course, Luke is full of them.  If all of them were put down on paper, "The world itself could not contain the books".

But before the Spirit gives Him power to heal and cleanse and revive men from the dead, He gives Him power for a greater work.

What is it?  It is preaching the Gospel.  Don't you wish you had the power of healing?  Wouldn't it be wonderful to empty out hospitals and to dry the tears of grieving parents?  That would be a great work!  But it's nothing compared to Gospel preaching.  Miracles heal the body, but the body remains subject to later sicknesses, and of course, to death.

But the Gospel?  That heals the soul.  It gives people the life of God, which of course, can never die.  It gives them a hope now that will never be ashamed.  And, finally, it gives them,

"An inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for us".

That's what the Gospel provides.  It may not be give the oohs and aahs that feeding 5,000 with one boy's lunch or walking on the water will, but it gets the job done!

Jesus Christ is anointed with God's Spirit to preach the Gospel.  And He does it all over Galilee.

NAZARETH

After giving the big picture, Luke zooms in for one sermon.    It's all of eight words-but what words they were.  He came forward to do the Bible reading.  He opened the scroll to Isaiah Chapter 61.  He read the first two verses,

"The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenheated, To preach deliverance to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed, To preach the acceptable year of the LORD".

He rolled up the scroll and handed it back to the man in charge of it.  Every eye was fixed on him; every heart burned to hear His gracious words.  But they heard that day was not what they expected-not even what they wanted,

"Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing".

Never had a man expounded the verses that way.  They all said it predicted the Messiah, that one day He would come, and deliver His people from their sin and misery.  But the Lord didn't say that.  He said "The Messiah has come."

Can you imagine how quiet the synagogue must have been?  Isaiah 61 was fulfilled that day-and not only Isaiah 61, but the whole Scripture!  Every jot and tittle of the Hebrew Bible would be fulfilled in the career of this One Man.

That's what He's saying.

THE EXPOSITION

He could have chosen any Old Testament verse and applied it to Himself, but He chose the two from Isaiah.  We'll look at them for a few minutes.  All the rabbis agreed that it applied to Messiah.  And what He would do, the prophet said, was six things (actually, seven, but I'll get to that later).

The first thing Messiah would do is "Preach the Gospel to the poor".

Not that He's against the rich, powerful, and educated.  There were holy men of old who were all of the above-think of Abraham, Job, Solomon, and Daniel, for example.  But what it means here is that Messiah would reach out even to the poor, to those most of us don't even notice or-if we do--look down on.  Messiah would not be that way.  He's not the Savior of the better-off classes only; He's the "Savior of the world".

The second thing He'd do is "Bind up the brokenhearted".

The world was once a wonderful place, full of peace and beauty.  But sin got into it and tore things up.  Think of the appalling things that happen every day.  We hardly notice them-unless they happen to us.  There's unemployment and poverty, sickness and death, violence and oppression.  Loving wives are beaten by wicked husbands; innocent children are molested by predatory teachers.  Happy families are driven from their homes by war.  On and on it goes.  Talk to a policeman and you'll find out how the other half lives.  Talk to a pastor and you'll find out how our half lives.

Unbelievers rage at us, "Why doesn't your God do something?"  And we don't know what to say-because we're wondering the same thing.  Why doesn't He do something?

In the Messiah, God is doing something.  He's not setting everything right-not the way we would.  No, what He's doing is something even better, He's binding up broken hearts.

How?  By suffering along with us.  And by making us know-in His suffering-that we are understood and loved.  As old women, I wonder what Mary and Martha thought about more:  Was it the Lord's power over death or was it His grief at the loss of their brother?

The Church offers no quick and easy answer to human pain.  What we offer is a Human God  who suffers with us. "In all of their afflictions, He was afflicted".

The third thing Messiah will do is "Preach deliverance to the captives".

The captives are not just people in man-made prisons.  No, they're the whole human race locked-up in sin, guilt, and fear.  Men are always offering freedom to us-usually for a small fee!  But how can they provide it?  They're as locked-up as the rest of us.  Even those who want to do the right thing, find they can't-no matter how hard they try!  In trying to "be good", they also find

"A law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good-a law in his members, warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin".

The law of sin is something like the Law of Gravity.  You can fight it for a time, but it always gets the best of you.  The greatest leapers, the pogo-stick basketball players, eventually come down.  Dr. J had great hang time; Michael Jordan had even more of it, but even they came back to earth.

What goes up must come down

.is not only a physical law, but it's also a spiritual law.  Every sincere person would admit it.  And-deep down-everyone knows it's true.

We can no more free ourselves than we can pull ourselves up by our own boot straps.  Thus we need Someone Else to do it for us.  And Jesus Christ is that Someone Else.

No one was more sincere than Charles Wesley.  Like his brother, John, he nearly killed himself trying to be holy-fasting and all-night prayer vigils; impossible hours poring over the Bible and relentless self-examination.  Yet the work he did only barred the doors of his prison.  Until Christ came in,

"My chains fell off, my heart was free; I rose, went forth, and followed Thee".

That's what the Lord Jesus did for Charles Wesley-and what He does for every believer.  And what He will do for you!

The fourth thing Messiah will do is "Give recovery of the sight to the blind".

This He did, very often, to physical eyes.  A man is born blind, but, at the word of Christ, he washes in the Pool of Siloam, and comes back seeing.  A blind beggar cries for help and the Lord restores His sight.  He spits on one man's eyes and he can see.  Who knows how many blind men had their eyes opened by the Savior?

But His greater work is done on the eyes of the soul.  He enables us to see things as they really are: We're sinners and damned for sure.  But He's the Savior who promises to save everyone who comes to Him in faith.  What once we didn't know-or knew in the head only-we now know in the heart.

I've talked to many Christians who've said things like this: "It's all so clear now.  I used to be all confused; I thought I had to clean myself up or reform before God would have me.  But now I see it's not in me at all-it's in Christ!"

Blindness doesn't change the color of grass-it's green for them as much as it is for the rest of us.  What it does, though, is keeps them from seeing the greenness of grass.  They might think it's blue or orange or, I don't know, taupe, maybe.

In the same way, Christ does not alter reality in the least.  What He does is allow us to see reality for what it is.  Yes, we're sinners, but God loves us, and sent His Son to save us from our sin.

The fifth thing Messiah will do is "Set at liberty those who are oppressed".

Thomas Jefferson, they say, was one of the most brilliant men who ever lived.  But to me, at least, he was one of the stupidest.  Here's a quote from old Tom, "All men are born free and equal".

Half of what he says is true-we are born equal, in the sense that everyone is equally under the wrath of God.  But the other part?  Was he out of his mind?  Men born free.  Only One Man was born free.  The rest of us are born slaves.

And our master is not a kindly old gentleman making the best of a bad system; he's the devil!

Who can free us from His Infernal Power?  Only the Man born free, "If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed".

There's one more thing Messiah will do.  He'll "Proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord".

"The Acceptable Year of the LORD" is another way of saying The Year of Jubilee.  In the Law of God, Israel was commanded to celebrate the holiday once every fifty years.  At that time, a tremendous change would occur in society:

All debts would be cancelled, all slaves would be freed, and all land would revert to its rightful heirs.  A man could be the biggest fool in the world-maybe a gambler.  He would gamble away his money, he'd lose his farm, he'd even have to sell himself and his family into slavery to work off his debt.

But when the silver trumpets blew, his folly was wiped out!

That is exactly what Jesus Christ does for His people.  We have no one to blame but ourselves-we have chosen the wrong ways and persisted in them long after we knew they were wrong and unsafe.  But Christ breaks in and wipes out the eternal consequences of our sin.

The sinner is in debt to God-and there's no way he can pay it off.  He was made for heaven, but he has forfeited his place in it.  he was made to be God's child, but he ran away from home and became the devil's most abject slave.

But Christ blows the silver trumpets, and everything we lost by the Fall, we get back!  Our sins are forgiven, we're fit for heaven, and we're welcomed into the Family of God.

This is what the Messiah was sent to do.  And what our Lord Jesus Christ did.

THE REACTION

You'd think this would be received with overwhelming gratitude and praise to God.  For centuries the people had prayed for Messiah and anxiously looked for His arrival.

He's come at last.  But look how they respond to the good news:

First with amazement, "They marveled at the gracious words".

But the amazement didn't last long.  The words started sinking in, and they became skeptical, "Is this not Joseph's son?"

In other words, what's the carpenter making Himself out to be?  He's a pretty good lay preacher, maybe, but He's saying a lot more than that!

The Lord feels the rising heat-and turns it up.  He says "No prophet is accepted in His own country".

He's not talking to strangers, but to people who've known Him all His life.  Yet they were saying No to their Favorite Son.

He doesn't leave it there.  He reminds them that God gives grace sovereignly.  Just because they're His homeboys doesn't mean He owes them salvation.  In fact, citing the history of Elijah and Elisha, He recalls that the former helped a widow in Zarephath (Jezebel's home town, by the way) and the latter healed a Syrian lepers-and not the many who were in Israel.

When they heard that-that they don't have a right to God's grace-a special claim on His love, they

"were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill.that they Might throw Him down over the cliff".

But not so fast.  He would die at their wicked hands, but not now, "Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way".

THE MESSAGE

The message is pretty clear.  Jesus Christ offers His help to sinners.  Only He can bind up the broken hearted; only He can deliver the captives, only He can recover the sight of the blind, only He can set at liberty the oppressed, only He can announce the Year of Jubilee.

Only He's chosen to do these things.  He's not one of the anointed, He's the Only One.  God never chose anyone else to do these things; He never equipped anyone else to do these things; he who pins his hopes to anyone else is doomed to crushing and eternal disappointment.

But not only can the Lord do all these things, He will do all of them.  Potential is good, but it's not the same thing as doing it!  I once heard a college football coach say, "Potential means you ain't done nothing yet".

But the Lord Jesus Christ has done something already.  Millions have had their broken hearts stitched up by our Holy Savior.  He's set them free; He canceled their debts to God; He's liberated them from the oppression of men and devils.

What He did for them, He will also do for you.  The offer is real and sincere.  "He who comes to Me, I will in no wise cast out".  But the offer has to be taken.  Faith is the gift of God, but it is not God who believes.  You do that; you do it by His grace and power, but it's you believe.  Believe in Christ right now.  And receive the blessings He has won for you by a sinless life and a sacrificial death.

What He will do for unbelievers, He's already done for those who believe!

But have we forgotten what He's done for us?  We have-if we're not rejoicing in Christ.  We have if--we're not trusting Him.  We have--if we're looking for solutions anywhere else.

Christians, our Lord was not only your Savior five or fifty years ago when you first believed.  He's still your Savior, right now.  Don't forget that.  Go back to your first love.  Do it now, no matter how cold you've gotten or how far you've slipped away.  Do it now.

The love of Christ be with you.  Amen.

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