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LUKE 4:14-30 - part three
Series:  Released - Part Three

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
December 14, 2008

Last Sunday was what day?  December 7th.  The anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  It’s a day when we remember those that’ve stood on the line to defend the freedoms that we enjoy - those that have died on that line.  It’s a day when we remember that those freedoms come with a cost.  Those freedoms are very unique in this world - and very easily lost.

In 1886 - this statute named what? - “Liberty Enlightening the World” - in 1886 this statue designed by Frederic Bartholdi - was erected near the entrance to New York Harbor.  How many of you have been to the Statue of Liberty?

On a plaque on the pedestal are the familiar words of Emma Lazarus - words that are symbolic of why people - our families - why they’ve come to America.  “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed, to me:  I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”  Masses yearning for liberty.

On the Tablet of the Law held in the statue’s left hand is what date?  July 4, 1776 - Reminding us of the words of The Declaration of Independence:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Hang on to that word liberty - being free.

Over the last few Sundays we’ve been looking at Luke 4:14-30.  If you haven’t yet turned there please do so and join us there - Luke 4 - starting at verse 14.

We’ve been thinking about the society that we’re living in - which is becoming increasingly indifferent to God - anti-God - and anti God’s people.  Where the core values of a healthy moral society are increasingly non-existent.  We’ve been thinking about how all that effects us.  Often times - effecting us negatively - spiritually - physically - emotionally.  And yet our relationship with Jesus should be what drives our attitudes and actions - how we respond to what’s around us.

What we’ve been focusing on - what we’re coming to here in Luke 4 - is thinking through together the reality of Immanuel - God with us - who Jesus is - the implications of His coming for our lives - especially as we live life where we live our lives.

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 people were saying good things about Him.

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 - something Jesus normally did every Sabbath - as was His custom, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and He stood up to read.

As we’ve shared before - on that Sabbath - the synagogue - the one Jesus probably attended growing up - the local synagogue was probably 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 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 - who has God anointed?  Jesus - God’s Anointed One - to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty - there’s that word liberty - to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty - set at what?  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.

As we have been making our way through this passage over the last two Sundays we’ve seen the significance of Jesus being God’s Anointed One.  That is 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.

We’ve seen that 
Jesus is anointed by God to proclaim good news.  What is on one hand good news for the physical needs of God’s people.

The poor - hanging on to the bottom rung in tough economic times - the poor have their needs met.  In a time of Roman occupation - the captives are set free - liberty.  The blind are healed - God miraculously working.  The oppressed - beaten down and wearied by the circumstances of life - the oppressed are set free - liberty.

On the other hand - Jesus proclaims good news which is spiritual.

Those who are spiritually impoverished - God meets the deep needs of their hearts.  The captives are those bound by sin - condemned by the law - waiting eternal judgment - the captives are set free - spiritual liberty.  The blind who live in the darkness of this world - the philosophies and religions and empty reasonings of man - the spiritually blind see God’s truth - Jesus the true light - shining in the spiritual darkness of this world.  The oppressed - who groan in endless slavery to impurity - to immorality - to addictions and patterns of life that weary us - defeat us - the oppressed are set free - spiritual liberty.

Physically and Spiritually - in the midst of what this world tries to abuse us with - to conform us to - to beat us down with - in the midst of the self-focused at any cost 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.  The freedom - the liberty - that is ours the moment we come to put our trust in Jesus - God’s Anointed One - our Savior and Lord.

All that good news is what we so deeply need today.  Yes?  Liberty in Jesus.

Then this phrase in verse 19 - that we want to focus on this morning - Jesus is anointed to proclaim the good news - and - “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

That phrase has huge ongoing implications for our lives today.  
Jesus Is Anointed To Proclaim The Year Of The Lord’s Favor.   Say that with me, “Jesus is anointed to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

To grab the implications we need to understand what this means:  “The year of the Lord’s favor.” 

The first thing we need to understand about the phrase - the year of the Lord’s favor - is what Jesus read.  Try that together, “What Jesus read.”

Follow me on this.  For the Hebrew people - the way God had set up their calendar - every seven days the seventh day is what?  The Sabbath.  Right.  God works six days - rests on the Sabbath.  God’s people are commanded to rest on the seventh day.  It’s a weekly opportunity to remember who God is and to get right with God.

Every 7th year was a Sabbath year - a year of rest.  Every seventh year there was no cultivation of the land.  The point was to remember that the earth was God’s.  The land was God’s gift to His people.  That land was what God used to provide for His people.  The Sabbath year was an opportunity to remember who God is and to get right with God.

At the end of 49 years - seven Sabbath cycles - 7 times 7 years - the 50th year was the year of the Lord’s favor.  It was known by two names - the year of Jubilee - or “The Year of Liberty.”  The year of what?  Liberty.

On the 10th day of the 7th month - what on our calendar comes in October - on what is called the Day of Atonement - the 10th day of the 7th month - the Day of Atonement was a day set aside every year where special sacrifices were made to atone for the people’s sins.

The idea being that all the regular ongoing sacrifices took care of all the regular sins.  But, there were probably sins that hadn’t been sacrificed for.  So once a year on the Day of Atonement - everything else that was wrong between God’s people and God was taken care of.  God’s people being made right before God.

Still with me?  On the Day of Atonement - in the 50th year - the year of what?  Liberty.  A horn would be blown announcing the year of the Lord’s favor.

During that year three major things took place.  First:  the soil was rested - no cultivation.  Second:  land that had been sold because of debts or poverty - land was returned to the original owner.  Third:  all the men and their families that had been hired out to another family because of poverty or debt - people who had had to hire themselves out as slaves were set free.  Can you imagine this taking place today?  (Leviticus 25:8-17)

Were people jubilant?  Oh yes!  Were people set free?  Oh yes!  Liberty.

The year of the Lord’s favor - was really a year when God’s people experienced God’s favor poured out on them.  An amazing time of restoration - renewal - blessing - deliverance - freedom from oppression and suffering and captivity - being made right with each other and - especially - being made right before God.  All of which was God’s tremendous gift - His favor - to His people.

Grab this:  In the year of the Lord’s favor - whatever was wrong was made right by the command of the sovereign God. 
God redeeming - setting at liberty - His people

Coming back to Jesus and the home town crowd in the synagogue -  people under the yoke of the Roman Empire - longing for a deliverer - the Anointed One of God - the Messiah - the Christ in Greek - to hear these words read - proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor - would have been to renew their hope that one day God would set His people free.

The second thing we need to understand about the phrase - the year of the Lord’s favor - is not what Jesus reads but what He doesn’t read
.  Try that together,
“What Jesus doesn’t read.”

Sabbath services included singing - prayers - a reading from Scripture - probably in Hebrew with an Aramaic translation.  That reading would include a passage of the day - probably taken from one of the 5 books of Moses - Genesis to Deuteronomy.  Then a reading from the prophets - which was a pre-selected passage or a passage the reader would select.  Then there would be a teaching from the Scripture that had been selected.

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 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him.  Jesus unrolls that scroll - almost to the end - and reads Isaiah 61:1,2 - adding to it Isaiah 58:6.

If we were to go back to Isaiah and compare what Luke records here in Luke 4 - the New Testament - what Jesus reads - compare what Luke records with the text of Isaiah from the Old Testament - the Hebrew Bible - there are some differences between the two.

One reason for those differences may be that Jesus was reading a first century interpretation or translation of Isaiah.  We’re going from Hebrew - the language that Isaiah probably wrote in - to Aramaic - what Jesus would have spoken and His listeners would have wanted the Hebrew translated into.  So - from Hebrew to Aramaic - and then to Greek - which is the language the New Testament is written in.  If you’ve ever translated between languages you’ll understand that sometimes things don’t translate exactly.

Another possible reason - a more probable reason for the differences - is that Jesus - who is God - the Word made flesh - Who is at the crux of what this Bible is all about - Who has every right to treat His word any way He chooses to treat it as He’s choosing to communicate His word to us - Jesus uses the text of Isaiah to emphasize certain points He’s been teaching the people.  Which may be why He added Isaiah 58:6 to the reading.

But what is really glaring - really significant - as Jesus is purposefully using Scripture to teach these people - is that Jesus omits the last part of Isaiah 61 - verse 2.

Isaiah 61:2 - starts off with the phrase “To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” - to which the people are saying, “Amen!”  “May it be so!”  “Bring it on!”  “God, we’re with You!”  “We need it now!”

Isaiah 61:2 - goes on to say, “and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.”

God’s people - who are mourning - why?  Because they’re poor - brokenhearted - blind - captives - under the yoke of Rome - longing for the year of the Lord - the time when God will pour down vengeance on all their enemies - all those unclean gentiles who’ve oppressed us for so long.

And that’s always fun.  Isn’t it?  Getting blessed while God makes toast out of your enemies. 
“Stand back from the lightenin’ strikes boys and pass the Bar-B-Que sauce.  God’s gonna burn ’em today!”

But, Jesus doesn’t read the God toast ‘em part.  That’s hugely significant. 

When Jesus sits down to teach - in verse 21 - when Jesus says,
“Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  What’s fulfilled?  The year of the Lord’s favor part.  That He read.  Not the vengeance - toast ‘em - part.  That He didn’t read.

Grab this:  What Jesus is proclaiming is God’s favor - the right now - right here offer of God to set His people free - liberty - from bondage to their sins - to restore our relationship with Him - through His Anointed One - Jesus.  
What’s on hold is God’s vengeance

The Apostle Peter writes - 2 Peter 3 - starting at verse 8: 
“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is a thousand years, and a thousand years as one - what? day.  The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is - what? patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach - what? repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”  (2 Peter 3:8-10)

Peter writes about the day of the Lord.  Which is the way Scripture describes the end time.  It’s the time when Jesus returns.  When judgment happens - vengeance.  When the world as we know it comes to an end.  The evil get toasted.

The word “dissolved” in Greek has the idea of being destroyed - vaporized - poof - no more.  The basic elements - which were to the Greeks:  earth, air, fire, water - poof.  Today we might talk about the basic stuff that’s the fabric of matter.  It all goes bye bye in ball of roaring fire.

Nothing escapes what’s coming.  Revelation 20 - verses 7 to 15 - are very clear that the end coming to the ungodly - those who die without trusting Jesus as their Savior - the end is a lake - not made of water - but fire - eternal fire and brimstone - sulfuric gas - acrid steam - foul odor - a place of eternal burning and choking - unending weeping - sorrow - gnashing of teeth - forever separation from God.  Not very pleasant.  But, very real.

Jesus doesn’t read the second part of Isaiah 61:2 - because there’s a gap - an interval of time - between the announcement Jesus makes - the proclamation of the year of the Lord’s favor - God’s offer of liberty - the time period that we’re in now - an interval between than and the coming day of the Lord - the day of God’s judgment - vengeance.

Point being:  In that time interval God is moving with purpose
.  Peter writes that one day to God is like a thousand years.  God’s not slow.  He’s patient.  Because when the end comes - the end comes - and the time of God’s favor is over.  Judgment happens.  Its God’s desire that all of us - Jew and Gentile - will take Him up on His offer of liberty in Jesus Christ

Thinking about what this can mean for us today - that interval between “favor” and “judgment” is where the church fits - where we fit in.  The theological - been to seminary - name for that interval is “The Church Age.”  Put slightly different:  The church fits between the Rock - Jesus - and the hard place - God’s judgment.

God has a purpose for us being here - standing in that gap.  To enjoy His favor.  But more so - to proclaim His liberty to those who are desperate for it.

I’d like to show you a short clip.  Some of you will recognize this.  To some it will be ancient history.  Some of you will think I’ve lost my mind.


Do you all feel warm and fuzzy inside?  How many of you will admit to watching that program?

The Love Boat promises something for everyone.  That’s the expectation.  On a cruise ship people sit on deck on comfy chairs and relax and other people serve them - take care of their needs.  People gorge themselves on all kinds of great food.  Performers entertain us.  If the temperature isn’t right in the stateroom - just complain to the steward and it’ll get fixed.  Its all about being satisfied with the cruise - enjoying myself - what pleases me.

Sadly - would you agree with this? - sadly - many Christians seem to think that the church is a cruise ship.  Serving others - following Jesus example of sacrifice - serving our Lord and Master - is way too often replaced by expecting Jesus’ body to serve us - to entertain us - to have programs that meet our needs.  We participate when it fits our schedule or makes us feel good about ourselves.  Showing up when it suits our needs to be here. 

And if the church fails us - as it must fail - with those kinds of expectations - we either whine and complain - or check out - find another cruise ship - or both.  To many - the purpose of being a Christian is to enjoy God’s favor.

Jesus’ listeners wanted the favor of God.  And, they wouldn’t have been too sorry to see the Romans get toasted either. 
“Well, they’re gentiles.”

The church is one of these.  A battleship.  On a battleship - everyone has an assignment.  Every person realizes that they’re crucial to the survival of the ship and crew.  No one complains about the chairs - the room temperature - the food.  They’re in a battle.  Orders must be obeyed.  Commitment is essential.  Sacrifice is expected.  They’re on the line - proclaiming and defending liberty - with their lives.

Paul writes in Galatians 5: 
“For you were called to freedom, brothers.  Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  For the whole law is fulfilled in one word:  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” 
(Galatians 5:13,14)

Being set free in this interval - between favor and judgment - is not about us.  Its about God’s great purpose for His church - to proclaim His love - His favor - His liberty - to those around us - our neighbors - who are facing God’s judgment - beginning right here - and out into our community. 
We’re set free to proclaim the Lord’s favor.  Try this with me, “We’re set free to proclaim the Lord’s favor.”  To proclaim God’s offer of liberation in Jesus Christ.

Some of you may have heard this before.  I assure you I’m not loosing my memory - too badly.  If fact if you remember this it means your memory is still there.  Thank God.  This account fits to what we’re talking about.

On the morning of December 7, 1941 - Jacob DeShazer - this man - was doing K.P. duty - peeling potatoes - when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  On April 18, 1942 - Bombardier Sergeant DeShazer - full of hatred for the Japanese took off from the aircraft carrier Hornet - with Colonel Doolittle's bomber squadron - on the first American bombing run over Tokyo.

When his bomber ran out of fuel - DeShazer was captured by the Japanese - taken to Tokyo - then Shanghai - and brutally - brutally - tortured.  His bitterness and hatred toward the Japanese only increased.  His hatred for his Japanese captors was so violent and so vicious that they were afraid of him and kept him in solitary confinement.

In a remarkable way he was given a copy of the Bible and he began to read through it.  Reading through the Bible - in the loneliness of his cell - DeShazer came to understand God’s gracious offer of salvation.  He repented and accepted Jesus as his Savior.

DeShazer - liberated by Jesus - DeShazer changed.  His hatred of the Japanese changed completely.  He began to love his captors and to show grace towards them.  The Japanese were astonished by what had happened to him.  Instead of resentment and viciousness - he became the most cooperative prisoner and prayed for them.  After the war - DeShazer's testimony was printed in a tract and distributed in Japan.

In 1948 - DeShazer and his wife Florence - returned to Japan as missionaries.  In 1959 - DeShazer and his wife moved to Nagoya to establish a church in the city he’d bombed.  For 30 years the DeShazer’s were missionaries in Japan. 

On December 7, 1941 - this man - Mitsuo Fuchida - led the Japanese air raid against Pearl Harbor.  Fuchida was the man who gave the command,
“Tora! Tora! Tora!”
- the command to drop the bombs.  Mitsuo Fuchida was a hero in Japan after the war because of his military service - but his heart was empty.

In this book - “From Pearl Harbor To Golgotha” Fuchida tells how one day he was given DeShazer’s tract, “I Was A Prisoner Of Japan” - a tract that told of DeShazer's change of heart.  From somewhere Fuchida obtained a New Testament.  He began to read it with growing interest.  Finally, he came to the account of the crucifixion and the words of Jesus, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" - Jesus praying for the soldiers who were about to thrust a spear through His side.  (Luke 23:34)

Fuchida realized that this Jesus - who could love His enemies and pray for those who persecuted Him - those who abused and spitefully used Him - this Jesus was showing a quality of life - a grace - that no natural human being could possibly show.  Fuchida's heart broke and he accepted Jesus as his personal Savior.

Fuchida - liberated by Jesus - became a missionary - shared his testimony all over America.  Which is how this book ended up autographed by Fuchida.  He signed it - years ago - while speaking here in America - sharing God’s love - God’s favor with his former enemies.

Fuchida and DeShazer met in Osaka and on different occasions preached together - proclaiming together the reality of what God can do in a life that He sets free.

God is patient toward us that we might be saved. 
To know God’s favor in our lives - to be liberated by God - is something to desire - to rejoice in.  But, may we not stop there.  May we see God’s great purpose for us - the privilege of proclamation.  The desperate need of those around us. 

God loves our family members and friends - our co-workers - who have not trusted Jesus.
  He is patient - working through us - to proclaim the good news that they might be saved.



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.