January 24, 2016

Rev. Mark F. Bartels

Old Testament Lesson; Isaiah 61:1-6

Epistle Lesson; 1 Corinthians 12:12-21, 26 & 27

Sermon Text; Luke 4:14-21

The text we are going to look at this morning is taken from Luke, chapter 4, verses 14 through 21. This is really one of the gem, standout texts of Luke. In this text, what is going to happen is the ministry of Jesus is going to be summarized. So, this is a really standout, important text.

On the basis of today's text, I am going to do three things.

       -First of all, I want to talk about something called Prophetic Christology, which sounds pretty complicated.

       -Then, I want to talk about where the word 'jubilee' comes from.

       -And then, I want to end by looking at the fact that Friday happened to be January 22nd, and look at an example of 'jubilee', because of something that happened on January 22nd forty three years ago.

Let us hear this text in honor of our Savior. This is His Word, and it is about His life.

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about Him went out through all the surrounding country. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as was His custom, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath Day, and He stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “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.” And He rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

These are your words, Heavenly Father. Lead us in the way truth. Your Word is truth.



Today's scripture reading happened in a church service, in Jesus' home church. So, Jesus went to church in the synagogue in Nazareth for thirty years. That was His home church. Just like if you went to church here for thirty years. You would know the ushers, and you probably would eat snacks with people during coffee hour. You would know who sat where, and you would really get to know people. Jesus had a home church, since he was little boy. He went to church in Nazareth, His home church, and everybody there knew Him. He was, to some of them, a brother. To some, He was a cousin. To some, He was a neighbor. Maybe some of them went to Him to take some carpentry work to have it done. They all knew Him, and they all knew there was something pretty special about Him.

Just to put today's scripture reading into context, I am going to refer to our hymnbook. If you were to open it up, to the front part, on page 163, you would notice something called a Lectionary. And, if you would count down the left hand side you would count 52 Sundays. They are assigned readings for every Sunday of the Church Year. You would also notice the first lesson is an Old Testament Lesson. The second lesson is an Epistle Lesson, which is from one of the letters in the New Testament. Then, there is the Gospel Lesson, which is from one of the four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Often we also use a Psalm. And, that takes you through the whole year.

Again, if you were looking at our hymnbook and you flipped the page, you would see it is actually a three year series. So, there is Year A. Then, on page 164 is Year B. Page 165 is Year C, and we happen to be in Year C, currently. And, if you would run your finger down the column on page 165 to Epiphany 3, that is actually what today is. And, we are using what is called The Assigned Text For the Day.

The reason I point that out is because this is not something new. It was around in Jesus' day, too. When Jesus went to church, when He went to synagogue on Saturdays, there were assigned readings for the day.

They had assigned readings for every Sabbath of the church year.        -First of all, they would read something from what is called the Pentateuch, the first five books – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, or Deuteronomy.

       -Then, their second reading was from a Psalm.

       -Their third reading would have been from one of The Old Testament prophets.

So, the particular day of today's scripture reading, when Jesus went to church, to synagogue, at His home synagogue, on that Saturday, He knew what the assigned readings were for that particular Saturday of the Church Year.

I want to put this into a little broader context.

       -He had gone to church there for thirty years. He had heard those readings every year, as had everybody else. It was His custom to go to church. They knew Jesus was going to be in church on Saturday. That is what He does.

       -He had left Nazareth, and He had gone down south to the region of the Jordan River. He had been baptized by John in the Jordan. At that point, we say He was anointed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came upon Him without measure, upon His human nature. Now, He had been ingratiated into His public ministry.

       -From there, He went out into the wilderness where He was tempted by the devil for forty days and forty nights. The weapon He used, when He fought against Satan, was simply, purely just Old Testament passages. He would say,

“It was written”,

and He quoted the Old Testament, as the authoritative powerful Word of God that could drive away Satan.

       -Then, the Bible tells us after He had defeated Satan, and those temptations, He went with the power of the Spirit into Galilee. He began to preach in the synagogues. He began to do miracles. The people up in Nazareth, in His hometown started to hear about this person who used to go to their church.

       -On this particular Saturday, Jesus was back in town. This Saturday He was back in town. Everybody knew, “It's Saturday. Jesus is going to be in church.” They probably all wondered, “Is He going to preach here in our church?”

And so, our passage tells us Jesus did. He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath, as was His custom. (I bet the church was packed that particular Saturday!) Somebody got up, and read from the Pentateuch. Then, somebody got up, and read from the Psalms. And then, it came time for the assigned reading from the prophets, for that day. Any qualified, Jewish man could stand up, and read. It was at that point, Jesus stood up in the congregation.

The job of the person who was the attendant was to take the scroll out of the box, because they considered the Bible the Word of God, and they really treasured it. And so, he took out the scroll from the book of Isaiah, because that is where the reading was for the day. Jesus took the scroll. He unrolled it, and He found the reading for the day. It was from Isaiah chapter 61, verses 1 though 6.

That is the context of what is about to happen.

Then, listen to what Jesus reads. This was written seven hundred years earlier, by the prophet Isaiah. It is telling The Old Testament people, “Someone is coming. The Messiah. He is going to free us. He is going to free us from oppression.” Jesus stood up, unrolled the scroll, found the place where it was written, and here is what He reads.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon


because He has anointed


to proclaim good news to poor.

He has sent


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.”

Then, He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and the Bible says He sat down.

Now, when I was a kid, I thought that meant He sat back down in the pew, and the service kept going. But, in the Jewish synagogue, when someone got up to read the reading for the day, if they wanted to teach on that reading, they would sit down on a platform in front of everybody, and they would preach a sermon from a sitting position, while everybody else was sitting.

When He began to preach, the first thing He said was,


today this Scripture has been fulfilled

in your hearing.”

This is something we call prophetic Christology. In The Old Testament, there were prophets. The prophets were to faithfully speak the Word of God, faithfully write the Word of God. It was the Word of God. It stood as the authoritative Word of God. One of the things the prophets did was foretell the coming Messiah. The people knew The Old Testament prophets' word, their word, was authoritative. It was God's Word. And, some day the Messiah would come.

Now, Jesus, quotes authoritatively from this Old Testament passage. He reads it, the prophetic Word of God, and begins to preach. Listen to what He says His job is. You will notice He repeats the word “proclaim” over, and over, again.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because He has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives

and recovery of sight to blind,

to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

When He says, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”, what He was saying was, “I am the One who is anointed by the Holy Spirit. I am the Messiah. I am the Christ. My job is to preach. My job is to proclaim the Word of God.” He was claiming what His words said were powerful. They were authoritative. They were the very Word of God.

Then, He tells us in summary what the substance of His prophetic ministry is going to be. You will notice, if you look at those words, He proclaimed good news to the poor, liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, liberty to those who are oppressed, and proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. These all have to do with this announcement that if you are oppressed, if you are feeling hard pressed, freedom is here. Liberation is here.

I want to look at a little phrase Jesus used. It is a very significant little phrase. He talked about proclaiming the year of the Lord's favor. What in the world is that? If you would go back 3,500 years ago, to the book of Leviticus, (so this was written 1,500 years before Jesus), there was something called The Year of Jubilee. When we think of 'jubilee', we think of shouting“Yeah!”, happy, and jumping up and down. The word 'jubilee' actually means 'rams horn'. It was a year in which the ram's horn was blown. When it was blown, all of a sudden there was some super jumping up and down, and excitement. Here is why. Everybody in Israel, when they had entered into the Promised Land, every single family was allotted a piece of land, of the Promised Land. It was theirs. It belonged to their family. They finally got to have the Promised Land. It was theirs. Whatever was given to your family, that was in your family for generation, after generation, after generation. It didn't belong to anybody else. That was your family's promised land. It was such a treasure to the Israelites to have their promised land, and have it belong to their family.

Once in awhile, people would get themselves into situations where their circumstances were so dire, so financially dire, or economically dire that they had to do the most unheard of thing. There was no other way they could come up with money, than to sell their promised land. It was one of the most difficult things in the world to do, to sell the land that belonged to your family. That meant your kids would not have it anymore, and your grand-kids wouldn't have it. Somebody had to be really oppressed to be in that situation.

Generally, when they were in that situation, they were so oppressed they even sold themselves into slavery, because they just needed food and clothes. They didn't need an income. They just needed food and clothes. So, they would sell themselves, their land, their family, their children into slavery. These people were really oppressed.

The Lord proclaimed, in the book of Leviticus, that once, every fifty years, every fifty years the ram's horn would blow. The 'jubilee' would sound. And, everybody's land would revert back to their family, back as your family's land, free. You didn't have to buy it. You didn't have to pay for it. It went back to your kids, and your grand-kids. And you, if you had been a slave, your kids had been slaves, your grand-kids slaves, you are free. It was called The Year of Jubilee. It happened once every fifty years. The Year of the Lord's Favor. The oppression was over, and everything was restored back to the way it was supposed to be.

Jesus is saying to everybody in the synagogue that day, “Today, today this is coming to fulfillment. I am here to restore everything to the way it is supposed to be, especially to those of you who are oppressed.”

Which takes me to a real day example, as we go to January 22nd. January 22nd, happened to be the 43rd anniversary of something called Rowe verses Wade. It was 43 years ago, that the Supreme Court of the United States of America declared abortion was legal. Since that time, there have been over

58,000,000 abortions

in the United States of America.

       -That dwarfs all the people who have been killed in all of the wars that the United States has ever fought!

       -It is one fifth of all the population in the United states today. For each of those abortions, there is a mom who often really wrestles about what she did. I want to read about one of them. There is a blog that I follow sometimes, that a Lutheran pastor writes. He is pretty wise, and he has a lot of wise stuff to say. I want to read you a question he got from somebody who reads his blog. When you consider this, you can tell this woman feels oppressed by her own guilt, her own conscious, and she feels blind like, “I don' know where to look, to get freed from all of this”. Here is what she says.

“I had an abortion. I was young and naive. Now, it tears me apart on the inside. If I could do it all over again, I would have my child. Now, all I have is heartache that I suffer for what I did. Now, I worry God will punish me, and He won't give me other children. Can God forgive me for failing Him, for failing myself, for failing my baby? Will God stay mad at me for taking a life? Please! Help! I don't know if God will forgive me.”

That is oppression. That is oppression.

You may not have had an abortion, but whatever sin you have committed that may be weighing on your conscious, (and even if it is just a whole bunch of little sins), all of those things weigh on our conscious.

Now, I want you to consider this pastor's answer. The first thing he is going to do is he is going to talk about her conscience, and how her conscience is keeping her captive. Here is what he says.

“We do things in life that turn on a voice in our head. That voice never seems to stop talking. Sometimes that voice is like a scream. Sometimes it is like a whisper. But, it is rarely ever silent. You have heard it. The words you write are painful proof. It is a voice that has no mercy. When it speaks, it always has the tone of accusation. It won't let your mistakes die. It shoves them in your face, again, and again, and yet, again That voice says, 'God won't forgive you. He will punish you. He is angry with you. He will always be angry with you.' Sometimes, well-meaning people try to help silence that voice by telling you what to do. They say, 'If you do this, or that, that voice will go away.' They say, 'If you get your life back on track, the voice will be silent.' But it isn't is it? They tell you, 'If you commit your life to God, He will make that voice go away.' But, it still accuses.”

Now consider what he says next.

“There are things too big for us to change. The voice is too loud, too persistent for us to silence. Guilt is one of them. Heartache over what you have done is one of them. When you are torn apart on the inside, you can't do surgery on yourself to repair the damage. You need someone else to do that. You need someone else to make the voice go away.”

Then I want you to consider what he does next. He is going to announce what Jesus called The Year of the Lord's Favor. He is going to announce freedom for the captive. He is going to announce liberty for the oppressed. Consider this.
“Let me tell you about another voice. It is bigger, and better, and it is a more merciful, and loving voice of a Father who thinks the world of you. In a voice rich with compassion, He said to His Son, 'Jesus, will you go, and take care of my daughter's sin?' And, in a voice equally rich with compassion, Jesus said to His Father, 'Gladly I will go. I will, in fact, take that sin away from her, and not give it back. I will not make hers, not even hers and mine, but mine only. I will become the one who had the abortion. I will transfer the guilt, and regret, and heartache she feels onto myself. I will make that voice that accuses her, direct its accusation against me. Once and for all, dear Father, I will become the ocean into which every river of wrong empties itself. No sinner will be left in the world except me. I will be everyone. The guilt, the punishment, the anger, the judgment will all be mine, and mine alone. Yes, Father, I will take care of your daughter's abortion. And, once I have, we will not speak of it, again. We will not remember it, again. It will cease to exist.”

So he goes on and says,

“It is not a question of whether God can forgive you, or even if He will forgive you. He already has. When you see a cross, you see the smile of your Father. He is not mad at you. He is overjoyed that you are His daughter. He is happy you are part of His family. He talks of you to the angels. 'Look at my daughter', he says, 'She is beautiful. She is pure. She is the apple of my eye. She is just the way I want her to be'. All of Heaven resounds with angelic voices that sing songs of how dear you are to the Father's heart, and how precious your life is to Him. You are His princess. Your Father will not punish you for something He doesn't even remember. Even if He did remember it, He would remember only that Jesus took that abortion as His own, that Jesus paid the price for that abortion, that Jesus has taken care of everything. You are loved by God more than you will ever realize. His love is the voice that drowns out all other voices. It says, 'You are my daughter. I love you. I do not see a speck of wrong in you. I see you, through the prism of my Son, your Savior. In Him you are forgiven, perfect, and clean, and without shame. In Jesus you are everything I want you to be.'”

That is the Year of the Lord's Favor. That is the announcement,

“You are free.

No more guilt.

No more oppression.”

And, whoever you are, whoever we are, Jesus says,


today this Scripture has been fulfilled

in your hearing.”

Wow! Forgiven! Let's dedicate our lives to living for Jesus. Let's dedicate our lives to hearing His Word, because His Word gives life, gives forgiveness, and it gives guidance. Let's dedicate ourselves to spreading His Word, to know it is The Year of the Lord's Favor, and there are some people who are still oppressed, and don't know that. Let's dedicate ourselves, as a congregation, to spreading that message.


Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. World without end.