Saturday, 26 October 2013

Sermon for Sunday 27 October 2013 – Luke 4:16-26, Isaiah 45:22-25 and Romans 15:1-6, Kim

Today is Bible Sunday and all the readings are for today. I could talk about The Bible and it is importance and I could talk about the important work that the Bible Society does but you may already know these things. I want to share with you one particular message that comes out of the Gospel passage and links with the other readings.

 In order to understand all the significance of Luke 4: 16-24, we must understand the Jewish synagogue system of worship. In the synagogue, sacrifice was not done. The synagogue was a place for teaching and reading. The temple in Jerusalem was the place for the priests to offer sacrifice to God, but in the synagogue, men came to learn. In the temple the priests were in charge; in the synagogue there was no priest, no preacher. Each man had an opportunity to participate in the time of reading and learning. A man would volunteer to read a passage from the scrolls of the Old Testament, and then afterwards, he would sit down and explain what those passages he read meant to him.

So on this day, Jesus was taking his turn in the synagogue to read the lesson and then to explain it. He picked a lesson that was very familiar to the Jews and contained a message that the Jews were passionate about.   The passage was from Isaiah, chapter 61, verse 2 - a passage of hope, of deliverance, that reminded the Jews that God was indeed still with them, still caring for them.  A passage that everyone in the world needs to hear today.

After he had finished his reading Jesus handed the scroll back to be put away.  He returned to his seat, and proceeded to explain the passage to them. Jesus begins his sermon with the most amazing sentence, saying, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Jesus is saying that today he has fulfilled this scripture, and today he is God’s salvation to the world. The Bible shows me that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.

Isaiah 61:1-2 was written 700 years prior to the moment when Christ read it.  The people had returned from captivity in Babylon. They were trying to rebuild their temple, but things weren’t going very well. The people were getting discouraged: they thought God had abandoned them. Times were hard, food was scarce, and hope for the future was in short supply. The people were so desperate so full of mourning that they even covered their heads with ashes, and wore sackcloth, the garment of mourning.  But Isaiah came and said to the people, “God is here; He will deliver; He will save; He will make you a mighty nation. Through you, God will keep his promise to bring salvation to the world”.

This passage is one of hope, of freedom, of release, and of salvation. But up till that time it was only a message of hope.  People dreamed about the day that hope would be realised.   So when Jesus said, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Jesus was saying the same thing. Jesus is saying to the people and to us that He is the one to bring God’s salvation to the world. Jesus is dropping a bomb shell on this congregation.  He is telling them/us that he is God’s salvation in the world. Through him God’s deliverance, God’s promise of hope, of freedom has come to his people.  Jesus is was revealing something about himself; he was making clear his mission, his calling, his task as he goes about his ministry on this earth.  Jesus is telling them that he is the one to bring hope and salvation to all people. We have been given this ministry.

We all acknowledge that we believe that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Saviour but I sometimes wonder if we have  got so used to the terms ‘Lord’ and ‘Saviour’ that they mean very little to us?  And this is why we have to be reminded of them over and over again. We need to know why Jesus came into the world. Verse 18 gives us some answers.  Jesus came into the world:

To share the Good News of the Gospel to the poor.  People who do not yet know the riches of life in Christ.  Not just to preach to them but to speak to their hearts. Sometimes "the poor" can be really hard to talk to, especially those who are looking for something else to make their life meaningful.  So we are to bring the Good News to them in any way we can.

God has sent Jesus to heal the broken-hearted. Jesus is the Great Physician not just to our bodies but to our souls as well.  There are thousands of broken-hearted people around us... most don’t understand why they are broken-hearted and they are helpless to deal with their problems. The question is, How can we heal them?  We are called to tell of the Good news of repentance and forgiveness.  Our task is to help people know what is wrong with them, and help them to understand that the way to God is a humble spirit.  Jesus said in Matt 5:3 says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven “. And in Ps. 147:3 says, “He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds”.  

To give freedom to the captives. Captives are not just prisoners of war.  They are also people who are in need of forgiveness and deliverance: those with destructive habits and addictions, or hearts filled with anger, hatred, unforgiveness and revenge.  To put it plainly; not believing in Jesus puts you in the worst captivity ever.  This is why we are needed in our community – to share the Good News.

To bring recovery of sight to the blind. We all know that Blindness can be a handicap.  In those days the only means of survival for the blind was to beg for money and food.  So to be blind in those days was to be a nuisance for others, and very often suffered rejection.  But Jesus accepted the blind whenever he came across them, healed them and set them free from their prison of both poverty and blindness.  And because of what he did, blind people were able to live normal lives.   What does this mean to us today?  People are not just suffering from physical blindness but there are also people who are spiritually blind. And like when people are blind, people who do not know the true God, they too grope about in darkness.  They need their sight to be restored so that they can know the true God.   Another reason why we should share the Good News.

To set free those who are oppressed. As Christians we cannot be possessed by evil spirits, but they can still influence our lives.  And I have seen with my own eyes how the Devil can control a person physically and emotionally, I can tell you it is a sad sight because the person does not even know it or admit it.  There might be times in our lives when we have given up on our dreams, our hopes. BUT Jesus never quits on us. Jesus is always there waiting and wanting to set us free. There will always be those times in our lives when we feel broken-hearted and life seems hopeless and we look for the day that Jesus will lighten our burdens and free our spirits. But 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “… where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”. 

To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD. This is the year of Jubilee, the year when we are restored and set free.  What year is that? Well you may have already had your Jubilee but there are many who have yet to have their Jubilee year. It is the year when you know the Lord and see the truth.  It may be right now. All those/these years you were or may be wandering in the dark.  Your prejudice with people may or may have put you in the dark. Your anger at your predicaments has or may have blinded you. Or you may or have been blinded by your wealth and position and life of comfort.   It all starts with the year you accept your condition without Christ;
the year you accept the fact that you need a Saviour;
you accepted that the blood of the Lamb of God has atoned for our sin;
you accept that your life is no longer your own but brought at a price;
you accept that you are going to serve, praise, worship, honour, seek and obey Him for the rest of our life.
That is your jubilee, the year of your release.   And we should proclaim it everywhere we go. Another reason why we should share the Good News.

The Isaiah reading it says ‘Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.’ Unless we share the Good News, people who don’t know God won’t know this. The Romans reading said that we should bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. We should please our neighbours for their good, to build them up. We don’t know what God will do when we share His character with others, I do know from my experience, it is very good.

We come to Church every Sunday, just as Jesus went to the synagogue each week, to hear God’s word for our lives.  But we need to hear the message of the Bible so that we may be filled with it to carry the message of hope and grace into the world around us, as well as into our lives.  We are Christ’s instrument in this world, but before we can be effective instruments we have to be sharpened by the Word of God. We have to be living the freedom Jesus brings us. How can we bring freedom to others? – next door – down the street – in our town – in our world? By showing others what it looks like to live in the freedom that Jesus died to give us. In all aspects of our lives we can make decisions that show we are living free from fear of death, anger and jealousy. Our words and actions can either enhance or detract from other people’s freedom. So let’s live in such a way that brings the true freedom of Christ to those around us by the words that we use, the things that we do and the way in which we live. Jesus also gave us His blessing,
‘May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind towards each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice (God’s mind and voice) you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Amen.

1. How often do you read the Bible? If not often, what stops you from reading it?
2. We all acknowledge that we believe that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Saviour but I sometimes wonder if we have  got  so used to the terms ‘Lord’ and ‘Saviour’ that they mean very little to us?  Is this true or false for you?
3. How do you feel about being God’s instrument today in the community, world?
4. Are you able to communication in whatever manner (talk, action etc.) is comfortable to you, Jesus to others?
5. What stops you doing so? How can we help?

For Extra Study:
Freedom people  - Here are just some of the things Jesus gives us freedom from:
• Freedom from sin, death, condemnation, guilt and shame – Romans 8.1-17
• Freedom from our weaknesses (anger, jealousy, gossip, bitterness) – Galatians 5.1
• Freedom from fear - Romans 8.15

He gives us:
• Freedom on the inside – see Psalm 40 1-3
• Freedom to live life to the full – see John 10.10
• Freedom to know God – see Hebrews 9.15
• Freedom to be God’s children and to call him “Abba” – Daddy. – Romans 8.15
• Freedom to be the friends of God – John 15.15
• Freedom to be filled with His Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – Galatians 5
• Freedom to do the things that Jesus did – John 14.12

Who is this freedom for?
The Jewish people were longing for political liberation from the Romans. But Jesus came to bring spiritual freedom for everyone today and in the years to come.

Just sometime to smile about.

They lie on the table side by side, The Holy Bible and the TV Guide.
One is well worn and cherished with pride.
Not the Bible, but the TV Guide.
One is used daily to help folk decide.
No, not the Bible, but the TV Guide.
As the pages are turned, what shall they see?
Oh, what does it matter, turn on the TV.
So they open the book in which they confide.
No, not the Bible, but the TV Guide.
The Word of God is seldom read.
Maybe a verse before they fall into bed.
Exhausted and sleepy and tired as can be.
Not from reading the Bible, from watching TV.
So then back to the table side by side, Lie the Holy Bible and the TV Guide.
No time for prayer, no time for the Word,
The plan of Salvation is seldom heard.
But forgiveness of sin, so full and free,
Is found in the Bible, not on TV.

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