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LUKE 4:14-30 - part two
Series:  Released - Part Two

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
December 7, 2008

Please turn with me to Luke 4 - starting at verse 14.

Does anyone remember what day Friday, November 28th was?  Black Friday.  The day after Thanksgiving when stores have all those huge sales.

Black Friday was pretty intense for some retailers - with the economy the way it is.  Around here - Mervyns - Linens & Things - Circuit City - are closing.  Right?   This for ad for a Circuit City Midnight Madness Fire Sale kind of puts things in perspective. 
“Join us at all our Maryland stores for our black Friday midnight madness fire sale, where we actually set the buildings on fire!!  There will be carnival rides for the kids, and fire fighters challenges to win prizes and get a chance to meet a real fireman and arson inspector!!”  “Save up to $750,000 on all our stores!” 

Do  you all know who Jdimytai Damour is?  I’m probably butchering the pronunciation of his name.   You recognize this place.  Jdimytai Damour was the stock clerk hired by Wal-Mart - Green Hills Mall - Valley Stream, New York.  4:55 a.m., Black Friday - 2,000 plus shoppers who’d been waiting in line since the day before - crushing up against the doors of Wal-Mart.  The glass doors shattered - were literally blown off the hinges.  The crowd - frenzied - surged forward.   As Mr. Damour fell - gasping for air - hundreds of shoppers stepped over him - around him - literally trampled the 34 year old man to death.  

When shoppers were told that someone had died.  That they’d have to leave.  Shoppers screamed back,
“I’ve been in line since yesterday morning.”  And kept right on shopping.

A lot of people ask the same question. 
“What is there for sale at Wal-Mart that’s worth a human life?”

We’re shocked by this.  Outraged.  But it really isn’t all that surprising.  In a culture that promotes self above anything else. 
“Life is all about me.”  Gratifying our wants regardless of the consequences - unrestrained consumerism - is the American way.

One blog made this statement: 
“...we have encouraged, and our economy has become dependent on, unsustainable levels of growth in consumer spending for products and services whose net value is questionable.  We have generally proven that beyond basic necessities, more money and more consumption do not increase happiness, yet our addiction is overwhelmingly enabled by billions of dollars and stimuli demanding that all we need to solve our deepest psychological needs is one more product.”  (1)

Last Sunday we began a look at Luke 4:14-30 - and thinking about the society that we’re living in - which is becoming increasingly anti-God - and anti God’s people.  Where family and marriage and the core values of a healthy moral society are increasingly non-existent.  A society - with its focus on self - that seems bent on self-destruction.

We’ve been thinking about how all that effects us.  So often we’re tempted to allow what we see going on around us - tempted to allow all that to effect us spiritually - and emotionally - physically.  Rather than the reverse. 
Who we are in Jesus - our relationship with Him - should effect how we respond to what we see taking place around us.

What we’re been focusing on - what we’re coming to here in Luke 4 - is to think through together the reality of Immanuel - God with us - who Jesus is - the implications of His coming for our lives - the encouragement - the perspective - the strength He offers us as we respond - and live in the midst of times like these.

Look with me at Luke 4 - starting at verse 14: 
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 - or praised - by all.

As Jesus is beginning His ministry - empowered by the Holy Spirit - teaching in these synagogues - Jesus is getting a reputation.  People were saying good things about Him.  They’re impressed - favorably.

Verse 16: 
And He - Jesus - came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up - born in Bethlehem - raised in Nazareth - And as was His custom - meaning that this wasn’t just a staged photo-op.  Going to synagogue was what Jesus normally did - as was His custom, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and He stood up to read.

Probably - on that Sabbath - the synagogue - the one Jesus probably attended growing up - the local synagogue was packed - 400 plus people crammed in - people hanging around outside - to hear Jesus - the local boy Rabbi made good.  At the appropriate time in the service Jesus stands up - because that’s what you did.  You stand up to read and sit down to teach.  Jesus stands up to read.

Verse 17: 
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 - to teach - 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.”  And all spoke well of Him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from His mouth.

Last Sunday we focused on what it means that Jesus is God’s Anointed One.  That God didn’t go “eenie meenie minie moe catch the Messiah by His toe” and by chance or dumb luck Jesus - out of all the people wandering around the earth - somehow Jesus got chosen to be the Messiah. 
“Hey, why not Him?  The carpenter’s Son.”

“Anointed” means that God Himself is purposefully working in human history - purposefully entering into human history - purposefully has entered into our lives.  The apex of God’s work - the focal point - is the coming and ministry of Jesus the Christ - Immanuel - God with us - who has come, and is, and is coming.

In coming Sunday’s were going to come back to this passage and even move on through it to verse 30.  But today - thinking about the significance of Jesus’ coming for us - where we live our lives today - I’d like to have us focus on verse 18 and the purpose of Jesus’ anointing.  These words, “He - God -
has anointed me to - purpose - to proclaim good news to the poor.”

That is a tremendous purpose with huge implications for our lives.  
Jesus Is Anointed To Proclaim Good News.  Say that with me, “Jesus is anointed to proclaim good news.”

“To proclaim good news” is the Greek verb “euaggelizo.”  Same word used by the angel - back in Luke 2.  The stars are brightly shining.  Shepherds washing their socks by night.  The angel appears and says,
“I bring you good news - “euaggelizo” - of great joy that will be for all the people.”  (Luke 2:10).

“Euaggelizo” is the Greek verb behind “euaggelistes” which where our English word - what?  Evangelist - comes from.  One who’s called by God - to give their life - proclaiming the Good News of what God offers to us in Jesus Christ..

Verses 18 and 19 - the verses that Jesus reads from Isaiah - are a description of what that Good News is.  Good news to the poor.  Liberty to the captives.  The blind recovering their sight.  The oppressed set free.  The year of the Lord’s favor.

There are two ways to understand this good news - what Jesus is anointed to proclaim.   First -
The Good News is Physical.  Say that with me, “The good news is physical.”  The Good News effects how we experience the world and society that we live in.

In the synagogue - when Jesus stood up to read - the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him.  Jesus unrolls that scroll - almost to the end - to Isaiah 61:1,2 and probably Jesus also added Isaiah 58:6.  Jesus reads these verses to this hometown Jewish audience that would have immediately connected with Isaiah and the context of those verses.

Its important for us to understand that connection for ourselves today.

Isaiah is perhaps the greatest of the prophets.  His prophecy is beautiful literature to read - great poetry - comforting - powerful.  Well known.  If we went around this room many here could quote passages from Isaiah.  His words touch our lives - deeply.  Same as in Jesus’ day.

Isaiah was a man that lived life with the living God.  He had an intimate relationship with God.  God used Isaiah to communicate His message to His people.  The book of Isaiah is sometimes called a miniature Bible.  The great themes of God’s word are there - especially the Gospel.  700 plus years before Jesus, Isaiah wrote prophecy after prophecy looking forward to the coming Messiah.  Prophecies that have been fulfilled in Jesus - His birth and life and death. 

Isaiah lived from about 740 to 700 BC - primarily around Jerusalem.  He was a prophet to Judah - the southern kingdom.  Isaiah lived during the reigns of possibly five kings of Judah:  Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and possibly Manasseh.

That time frame is important for us to grab on to.  The times - what was happening - what God’s people were up against.  During the time that Isaiah was writing the ten tribes that formed the northern kingdom of Israel were carried off into captivity by Sennacherib of Assyria - God’s announced judgment on His people because of their sin.

During that time - Israel being dragged off into exile - Judah - the southern kingdom - where Isaiah was - Judah was sinking into an ever deepening mire of hedonism - of depravity - of immorality - of spiritual idolatry.  Until 587 - when the Babylonians came - conquered Jerusalem - and hauled off Judah into exile.

That exile didn’t happen when Isaiah was living.  But you could see it coming.  Not the end of the beginning.  But the beginning of the end.  God’s people are watching the kingdom deteriorate around them - prosperity turning to poverty - morality turning to depravity - godliness turning godlessness.  They were seemingly powerless to stop the descent.  Sound familiar?  Isaiah’s proclaiming God’s message to mostly deaf ears.

There’s a tradition that Isaiah was martyred under the reign of Manasseh - one of the most wicked kings of Judah.  Isaiah - knowing the king was after him - hid in a hollow tree.  The king’s soldiers - knowing Isaiah was in the tree - sawed the tree in half - sawing Isaiah in half at the same time.

People didn’t care about God.  The only thing they cared about was themselves.  Sound familiar?  How are God’s people to live?  What hope is there for the nation?

So these words about good news for the poor - freedom for captives - the blind - living without hope while everyone is trying save their own skin - the blind seeing - God miraculously working - the oppressed being set free - the year of the Lord’s favor - the time when God will set all things right and rain down judgment on all His enemies - those are words of hope to cling on to in a very real physical fearful time.

A realized hope placed in the sovereign God who did restore His people - brought them back from exile in Babylon - restored Jerusalem and the Temple - just as He said He would.  Hope in the sovereign God Who has proven over and over again to His people that He is the gracious and merciful and loving God. 

Imagine those listening to Jesus - there in that synagogue - 700 years after Isaiah - again in a conquered nation - under the yoke of the Roman Empire - how powerful would those words be?  Is God going to restore our nation today as He did when He brought our ancestors back from Babylon?  Maybe now is the time?

There’s a very real physical understanding of Isaiah’s prophecy that is valid for us to latch on to.  God caring for His people - for us - even in times like these - today.

Bottom Line:  God is still sovereign.  God’s got it under control.  God will bring about the end that He has purposed.  
God will take care of us.  Say that with me, “God will take care of us.”  Even in times like these.    

The second way to understand the good news that Jesus is anointed to proclaim is
Spiritual.  Say that with me, “The good news is spiritual.”  The Good News effects our relationship with God.

God cares about the physical needs that we have.  But, more important - God deals with the matters of our heart - the cores issues of our lives - especially our relationship with Him.

The poor - are those who are spiritually impoverished.  The captives are those bound by sin - condemned by the law - waiting eternal judgment.  The blind live in the darkness of this world - the philosophies and religions and empty reasonings of man.  The oppressed - groan in endless slavery to impurity - to immorality - to addictions and patterns of life that weary us - defeat us.

In Isaiah 61:3, Isaiah writes that Jesus comes to give
“the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”  In Jesus, God Himself comforts us. (see also Matthew 11:4-6; Luke 4:18-21; 7:22)

Paul declares in Romans 8: 
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”  (Romans 8:1,2)

John announces that Jesus is the true light which enlightens everyone.  (John 1:9)

Paul writes in Romans 7,
“Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  (Romans 7:24,25a)

Jesus proclaims good news:  liberty - recovery - freedom - the arrival of the time when God is putting all things right.   Bottom line: 
God has come to us.  Try that together, “God has come to us.”  God comes to us to offer us life with Him that we could never obtain on our own.

In thinking through what this means for us today - I’d like to have you turn with me to Matthew 5.  Starting in Matthew 5:1 - Matthew records Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus up on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee teaching about the Kingdom of God.  Familiar passage?  Right?

Matthew 5 - starting at verse 2: 
He - Jesus - opened His mouth and began to teach them saying,  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 

“Blessed” is the Greek word “markarios.”  It has the idea of a profound sense of essential well being - of being rightly aligned at the core of who we are.  Being centered on what’s important in life and experiencing a peace - a settledness in our hearts - as a result. 

In the midst of what this world tries to abuse us with - conform us to - beat us down with - in the midst of the self-focused survival mentality of this world - God offers each of us something tremendously different.  His approval - His provision for our lives - His healing - His purpose for us - life in His kingdom - knowing God and being known by Him.  Good news.  Yes?

Jesus begins: 
“Blessed are the poor in spirit - those who are spiritually impoverished - Luke 4:18 - Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”  

Jesus is talking to
a crowd of diverse thousands - multi-ethnic - multi-cultural - from every economic strata - the suffering and sick - average people just trying to get by - people from different religious backgrounds - religious leaders proud of their piety and traditions.

o Jesus’ listeners - there on the mount - and there in the synagogue - life with God meant sacrifices - regulations - traditions - impossible standards of holiness - condemnation and ostracism for failure - hundreds of laws imposed by the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Who’s Jesus talking to?  He’s talking to those who are
“poor in spirit” who’ve been told all their lives - that spiritually - you don’t have what it takes.  You’ll never measure up.  Ever feel that way?  And yet, Jesus says the poor in spirit are blessed by God.

Hear this: 
To be poor in spirit means admitting that we don’t measure up.  That we’re powerless to control our penchant for doing the wrong thing.  Jesus says of the poor in spirit, “theirs is the kingdom of heaven” - present tense.  God has already brought His kingdom down to those who realize they can never measure up to God.

Jesus goes with this - verse 4: 
“Blessed are those who mourn - those who cry and weep over their sins - for they shall be comforted.

Jesus enters into Jerusalem on what we celebrate as Palm Sunday.  At some point - in the midst of all that confusion - Jesus comes to a place where He can see the whole city of Jerusalem laid out in front of Him.  Luke writes,
“When Jesus saw the city He wept over it.”  He mourned. (Luke 19:41)

In one instant of time Jesus is confronted with the sin of Jerusalem - their hopeless situation.  He sees all the sins the people have committed - the spiritual poverty of the people - their coming judgment because of sin - His crucifixion and carrying of their sin - and ours - and Jesus mourns over the city.

That’s what Jesus means by mourning.  Feeling the depth of our own spiritual bankruptcy - mourning the cost and depth of our sin. 
Feeling the spiritual poverty of those we live with - those around us - who like us are crying out - in the same ways that we cry out.  Who have the same needs and struggles - and who sin as we sin - and desperately need to know God’s comfort and healing - His blessing.

Jesus says, God blesses - comforts - those who mourn - who realize their need - their spiritual poverty - and are open and ready and crying out to God for His comfort.

How many of you have seen the movie Ice Age?  The movie’s about a mammoth, a saber toothed tiger, and a sloth - that are trying to take this human baby back to his tribe.  At some point they realize they need to feed this human child - give it food - which is when they come across a flock of Dodo birds hoarding food for the coming ice age.  It’s a cartoon.  Okay? 

Watch this.  And while you’re watching think about how often we focus on hanging on to what is useless in order to pursue what is worthless.


How often do we try to hang on to what’s useless in order to pursue what’s worthless? 
Sin does that to us.  We pursue the stuff of this world.  We hang on to our pride.  We cry out to God to heal parts of our lives while we cling on to the rest.  We have our rationalizations - our solutions.  We’re preserving the Dodo way of life.  Ultimately - sin is self-destructive.  The dodos are extinct.

Jesus is anointed to proclaim good news
.  News we need to hear and respond to.  How often do we cry out to God because of our spiritual poverty?  How often do we mourn over the depth our sin?   What are we pursuing - clinging on to - that we need to let go of?   


1. Jack Turner, http://www.jackandjillpolitics.com  11.19.08

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.